In my tribute to Mother Angelica last month, I asserted that in large part, the network she founded no longer spoke truth to power. I wrote:
It is my belief that EWTN’s growth has come at a serious cost: they have traded the credibility that once came with Mother’s tenacity in sharing the “hard sayings” of Catholic teaching for a more general popularity. Though there are certainly exceptions, in large part, EWTN programming and news coverage has become so conciliatory and anodyne that it fails any longer to speak with its founder’s voice to the very ecclesiastical crisis against which she so passionately fought. Does it reach millions of Catholics today? Undoubtedly. But with what? Safe programming and platitudes? Where are the courageous denunciations of the idea of Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried, the general conduct of the Synod, or of those infamous prelates hand-chosen to run it?
The truth is, with the influence and reach that EWTN has, it could become, once again, a deeply profound voice in the fight for the soul of the Church. And while I will pray for the repose of the soul of Mother Angelica as she would no doubt want, I will also implore her intercession (in the event that she’s already reached her eternal reward) that this very thing will come to pass, even if it takes a miracle. Who, more than Mother herself, would wish to see the work she gave so much of her life to serve such a purpose?
One of those “certain exceptions” — over the past two years in particular — has been Raymond Arroyo. Though Arroyo’s on-air position leans more towards the objectivity of a journalist than the overt bias of a commentator, the stories he chooses and situations he brings to light help to shape an understanding of the ecclesiastical crisis for people who might not ever read a website like ours. (Arroyo did recently mention 1P5 on air, a segment which brought us new and devoted readers.)
Last week, Arroyo brought on Fr. Gerald Murray, J.C.D., a canon lawyer and the pastor of Holy Family Church in New York City; and Robert Royal, Editor in Chief of The Catholic Thing (to which Fr. Murray is also a contributor). Their topic was Amoris Laetitia, and Arroyo asked great questions about the doors the document opens. You can see the entire segment for yourself here:
While this may not be quite the bare knuckles approach Mother Angelica might have taken on this topic, Arroyo and his guests (particularly Fr. Murray) weren’t coy about the problems the exhortation creates for the Church. The segment was perhaps all the better for its careful but not exculpatory handling of the document’s trouble points, inasmuch as it might just reach people who might not ever otherwise consider that a papal document could pose so much danger to the faith.
Certainly, the segment was an answer to prayer that EWTN will again speak unpopular truths that need hearing. It’s an odd day when EWTN takes a stronger stance on the problems in the so-called “Church of Nice” than Church Militant does, but a welcome one indeed.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.