From Renew America Website
Article by Matt C. Abbott
March 7, 2006
To view entire article
Christopher Ferrara's response to Father Trigilio's
statement is as follows (slightly edited):
Tradition is not a matter of taste. Tradition is the sum
total of what has been handed down to the Church intact over the
centuries to be protected and nurtured by the leadership of the
Church. It is not a question of being 'traditional enough' but
rather traditional period.
One reason I wrote the book was to avoid precisely what Fr.
Trigilio's comments suggest: the acceptance by Catholics of a
'sliding scale' of Tradition that corresponds to the sliding
scale of 'conservative' in secular politics.
Anyone who reads this book with an open mind will agree that
since Mother Angelica's resignation in March of 2000 from the
EWTN board, her surrender of her veto power over network
decisions, and her turning over of all management to lay people
— which had nothing to do with her strokes — EWTN has been
purveying a great deal of content that would have horrified a
Pope like Saint Pius X.
What would Saint Pius X think, for example, of a live TV
broadcast in which an 'expert' on Catholic marriage urges
viewers to imagine Our Lord engaging in marital relations
through one's spouse as the 'incarnation' of His love? What
would he think of a 'conservative' Novus Ordo Mass that features
every one of the basic liturgical changes demanded by the
Protestant rebels of the 16th century, including a dogged
defense of communion in the hand by multiple EWTN 'experts'?
What would he think of EWTN's active promotion of an association
of 'Hebrew Catholics' whose leader says that the Church has been
'sociologically Gentile' for 1800 years, and that Jews cannot
live their 'collective vocation' properly in the Church? These
are just a few examples of the problematical and indeed
scandalous content of the network's programming and Internet
material that the book documents.
In the beginning of the book I stipulate that much of EWTN's
content is quite good, but I also stress that it is no objection
to the book to point this out without addressing the serious
problems with many other elements of EWTN's content. Again and
again and again I have heard from Catholics, including former
EWTN celebrities, that something was seriously wrong with a lot
of what the network was broadcasting on TV and the Web. That is
the main reason I decided to undertake this book project.
Television is a powerful medium, and those who take it upon
themselves to provide the 'Eternal Word' by that medium have a
duty to be sure that everything they broadcast is wholly
consistent with Catholic doctrine, dogma, decency and modesty.
And those who undertake this mission voluntarily can hardly
object if their fellow Catholics make legitimate criticisms of
what they broadcast to the world.
What is more, EWTN does not confine itself to purveying a
great deal of objectionable content. Its theological 'experts'
take the offensive against so-called 'traditionalists' merely
because they cling to the Faith of our fathers. And EWTN does
this at the very moment the Vatican itself is conceding that the
Society of Saint Pius X is not in schism, that the traditional
Latin Mass was never prohibited by Paul VI, and that (as
Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos recently put it) criticism of
the changes in the Church since Vatican II 'can be a treasure
for the Church.'
Why does Fr. Trigilio not protest the branding of
traditionalists as 'disobedient,' 'schismatic,' and so forth by
EWTN's lay experts, who have no authority to issue such
pronouncements. At least the book presumes that those
responsible for EWTN are in good faith.
I am disappointed that Fr. Trigilio has played 'the Pope
card' in objecting to the book. He writes: 'Now, EWTN is no
pope, but the criticisms and attacks leveled against it are
often similar to those thrown at John Paul II or Benedict XVI.'
Have we not had enough of this draping of the patently
objectionable in the papal flag? Instead of a demagogic
invocation of papal authority, why not discuss the real concerns
that many Catholics, not just this author, have with EWTN? If
what some call 'the most Catholic thing out there' would have
sent the great pre-conciliar popes into apoplexy, should
Catholics simply shrug their shoulders and say, 'Well, EWTN is
at least better than what the local bishop provides'? I think
more is expected of us than acceptance of a sliding scale of
Finally, I want to stress that the book, as it states, was
written in a fraternal spirit. No one would like to see EWTN
become a force for ecclesial restoration — of true opposition to
Modernism in the Church — more than I would. Indeed, the book
notes that back in the 1990s, traditionalists, myself included,
were applauding the courageous stands of Mother Angelica and
were hoping she would become an ally in the cause for restoring
everything that has been overturned since the Council.
I sincerely hope that EWTN becomes what it could be: the
vanguard of a movement to restore the Church, rather than a
'conservative' adaptation to the post-conciliar revolution. I
sincerely hope that instead of attempting to update Roman
Catholicism with rock music and other elements to suit what Fr.
Trigilio calls the 'taste' of present-day Catholics, EWTN will
come to recognize the disaster that even Msgr. Klaus Gamber,
writing with the approval of the former Cardinal Ratzinger,
noted in his Reform of the Roman Liturgy:
'Is this the spring people had hoped would emerge from the
Second Vatican Council? Instead of a genuine renewal in our
Church, we have seen only novelties. Instead of our religious
life entering a period of new invigoration, as has happened in
the past, what we see now is a form of Christianity that has
turned towards the world.'