EEEEWWWW! TN Goes Wrong, Again!

The Network Gone Wrong
Goes Wrong… Again
by Christopher A. Ferrara
September 12, 2012

One of the realities that prompted me to write EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong six years ago is that EWTN’s roster of celebrities is curiously prone to scandal. Here is a list of major EWTN celebrities who have bitten the dust since 1998, which I have discussed elsewhere:

In 1998, Father Ken Roberts, a hugely popular EWTN celebrity and an avid promoter of the phony apparitions at Medjugorje — misleading countless souls — was removed from the network and all material related to him was expunged from EWTN’s website after his suspension from the priesthood on account of allegations involving the sexual molestation of minors.

In 2002, Father John Bertolucci, another EWTN superstar and proponent of the pan-Christian “Catholic Charismatic Renewal” — a clear threat to the integrity of the Faith — was expunged from the network without comment after he was identified by the infamous Bishop Hubbard as one of twenty child-molester priests in the Diocese of Albany.

In 2007, Father Francis Mary Stone, the immensely popular host of EWTN’s crass and often morally offensive, rock-and-roll-themed youth show, “Life on the Rock” (discussed extensively in Chapter 15 of my book), left the network in disgrace and then the priesthood after announcing his love affair with a widow. When last seen on the Internet, he was peddling a nutrition drink called Zrii under the name Dave Stone, shamelessly using the slogan “living life on the rock.”

In 2009, the aptly named Father Alberto Cutié, EWTN’s telegenic Hispanic heartthrob who “reach[ed] millions of households throughout the United States, Canada, Spain and Latin America on EWTN Español,” left EWTN and then the Catholic Church after photos of him groping a married, bikini-clad woman on a beach surfaced in a Spanish-language tabloid. He married the woman and became an Episcopalian priest.

In 2010, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, former head of Human Life International and a fixture in EWTN’s video and audio programming, left the network and resigned from HLI after he admitted to “violating the boundaries of chastity with an adult female who was under my spiritual care” — meaning his “exorcism ministry.” Euteneuer maintained that the “vast majority” of his decisions and conduct had been “morally sound and consistent with all standards of pastoral care of persons.” The parents of the young woman Euteneuer admitted to violating, however, say they are aware of two other victims.
Then, in 2011, Fr. John Corapi, perhaps the single biggest celebrity in EWTN’s history, was removed from the network after an investigative panel appointed by his order alleged continuing sexual improprieties, drug abuse, and a lavish lifestyle contrary to his vow of poverty (to which the order, it must be said, had previously failed to object). As I noted in a column for The Remnant, in response to the report Corapi “issued an evasive non-denial and purported to ‘resign’ from the priesthood rather than contest the charges against him. ‘That era of my life is sadly ended,’ he said, speaking of his sacred priesthood as if it were a job opportunity that had reached an unfortunate dead end.” I further noted that “Shortly thereafter Corapi appeared in a video on his [now defunct] website wearing a leather Harley Davidson jacket, his head shaven and his gray beard dyed black, to announce that he would pursue an Internet career under the bizarre moniker ‘Black SheepDog.'”

Now, as John Vennari has put it, “another one bites the dust.” As Catholic News Agency (CNA) has reported, Franciscan friar Father Benedict Groeschel — whose heterodox ramblings before EWTN cameras were the subject of Chapter 8 of my book on the “Network Gone Wrong” — has “stepped down as host of EWTN’s Sunday Night Prime television show following his apology for making comments about the sexual abuse of minors.” Groeschel was sacked after he declared during an interview in the neo-Catholic newspaper National Catholic Register (published Aug. 27) that “a minor is ‘the seducer’ in ‘a lot’ of sexual abuse cases” and that “he was inclined to think that abusers on their first offense should not go to jail ‘because their intention was not committing a crime.'”

EWTN president Michael P. Warsaw told CNA that “It should have been obvious to the editor [of the National Catholic Register] that Father Benedict’s physical condition and mental clarity have deteriorated and that the comments were completely inconsistent with his life’s work and witness.”

Well, we are all subject to the frailties of advancing age, and it is certainly true that Father Groeschel’s performance on EWTN has been declining since my book appeared. But there is nothing to indicate that what Fr. Groeschel said did not reflect what he actually believed at the time he said it. A lack of mental clarity is not the same as a loss of reason. Unless EWTN is going to claim that Fr. Grosechel has lost his mind and does not even know what he is saying at this point in his life, what is their explanation for the scandal he has caused? Indeed, if this was merely an inadvertent misstatement, why was Fr. Groeschel sacked?

This is not the end of the line of EWTN celebrities who are prone to fall from scandal. Consider, for example, EWTN celebrity Father Robert Sirico, who managed to be ordained a priest in the 1980s despite his openly acknowledged and publicly reported past as a “gay Protestant minister,” following his apostasy from the Catholic faith of his youth. On April 21, 1975, Sirico “made the annals of ‘gay’ history as a pioneer ‘gay rights’ activist when he performed the first same-sex ‘marriage’ in the United States of two male homosexuals with a civil marriage license at the First Unitarian Church of Denver, Colo.”

Fr. Sirico’s militant homosexual past is meticulously documented here, and is essentially admitted entirely by Sirico himself here, yet today he is a regular political commentator on Catholic social issues for EWTN. With supreme irony, Sirico’s commentary was solicited by EWTN talking head Raymond Arroyo during the same episode of The World Over — EWTN’s pretentious, simulated “big time” news show — during which Arroyo announced the removal of Father Corapi from the network.

Has EWTN lost its collective mind? Sirico may have repented for his sins, but how could those responsible for EWTN’s content think that a network that holds itself out as the gold standard of conservative Catholicism can simply overlook his utterly abominable past? No one whose résumé includes a career as a militant homosexual activist and “gay man” should have been ordained to the priesthood in the first place. Of all the intelligent priests available for commentary on affairs of the day, this is the man they choose? What is going on here?

Since my book was published, I have had communications from EWTN insiders who warned me that I don’t know the half of what has gone wrong at the network. I suspect that they are right, and that my book only scratched the surface of the problem. Yet the propagandists of the neo-Catholic establishment, led by EWTN, cluck their tongues at Father Nicholas Gruner, who has honored his vows and kept the Faith unswervingly. Such is the “diabolical disorientation” that afflicts the human element of the Church today, to quote Sister Lucia of Fatima once again.

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15 comments on “EEEEWWWW! TN Goes Wrong, Again!

  1. Poor Mother Angelica she meant soo well but was decieved by the spirit of Vatican 2 crowd.

  2. I love EWTN, this is our favorite channel my family and I watched at home. There will be always bad apples in any place and there will be always people that want to bring it down because it spreads the Word of God. I pray for EWTN and Fr. Gruener. God Bless them both

    • Absolutely fair enough, Margarita! There ARE some fine programs and that has always been the case.

      What Chris was writing about is the internal problem ( which can haunt any type of organization ) and how it has led to spectacular Whooops! moments for an otherwise nobly oriented enterprise.

      Nevertheless, Catholics need be wary of all the ecumenism, dumbed-down, golly-gee-bob-howdy trendiness and the very invidious “pathology of the bawdy” ( JPII’s novel “theories” taken to the limit by more than one EWTN “expert” ) programming that also goes out over the airwaves.

      I sincerely hope you will read Chris’ book, titled in the OP on this thread. EWTN is no longer “Mother Angelica’s Network.” Not by a long shot.

      For all the good it does contain, I doubt St. Pius X would have tolerated the evil it does for even one second. One case in point, Ferrara quotes ( which he does all through the book ) actual transcripts of actual broadcasts and in one show the host told parents NOT to let their children see or hear the program. Chris rightly asks how it is that a network that alleges to be Catholic would EVER broadcast anything so lurid and offensive that children needed to be sheltered from it?

      And that is his whole point: Is everything that network broadcasts Catholic?

      FWIW, I answer absolutely not! And the situation is actually worse now than back when Chris’ book was first published.

  3. I am so grateful to EWTN for assisting me when I was reading up for conversion. I got to see what Mass was and should be, at least the very close approximation of it, which was in HUGE contrast to the ruined Mass in my Diocese, long run by one of the most liberal bishop (but politically careful) in the country. I thank God for EWTN.

    You know, Jesus had a bad apostle, even though He was the most perfect most loving and fully omniscient teacher, and He and His Mother prayed constantly for him. If Judas came to my town I feel sure (like plenty of his contemporaries) I woudl have seen who he was. But I (like many of his contemporaries) would not generalize about Jesus’ teachings and church because of him.

    Is this became I am a highly intelligent extremely well read* published author who had an excellent long thorough Catholic formation and I becasue I am versed and Latin and Greek and have the catechism memorized?? Nope. Its discernment and a gift of the Holy Spirit not just to the mentally gifted.

    I can see EWTN is not perfect and I ignore what is not. For example, I am not a great fan of Fr. Pacwa but I see he has some gifts and I admire his loyalty to Our faith and his calling. People do their best and EWTN is not “EEW” just because some of them are. Nor were all the Apostles “eew” just because of Judas.

    Jesus came for sinners and messy imperfect people. Some sinners have deeper messier issues than you but maybe Jesus loves them more because they need Him so and likely they know it! Conversion to old ways of life does not happen over night. So all those regular not super special people that Jesus loves are blessed to have EWTN for a great Catholic example, right on their TV and radio.

    I bet you have flaws, too. If not, you are in danger of pride. Do you know what God hates? A proud look. Its hard to avoid that when you have problems with pride. I hope you don’t.

    I got to this site because I was curious what happened these days to David Stone. I hope he still goes to Mass. I hope he is raising that woman’s kids Catholic. It makes me sad that he left. I feel that woman must have pulled him away; she saw a good man and wanted him for herself. How very sad. But I don’t know.

    None of these EWTN celebs are Saints. Coropi’s demise shocked me, but as it unfolded, it made sense. I was fascinated by his vigorous defense of faith at first; he is an impressive personality. But I soon stopped listening because there was no “meat” there. Like the Protestant Sunday sermon that never got deeper than “You must accept Christ”…

    Father Groshel had a traumatic accident, was not all the same after, and he spoke wrong. God bless him. He is not perfect but he is a fallible human like most of us. He poured his fallible self out in service, fallibly, but with God’s grace evident.

    EWTN is a “new” network and takes time to work out the kinks. Kinks will always be there because like the Church you just cannot pull ALL the weeds. It will always be a temptation to Narcissists.

    Don’t you worry about tearing down parts of the Body of Christ?
    * (I have read pretty well though! Converts steeped in other theology often need to)

    • Pride? Narcissists? You just want to walk in here and pick a fight? Good grief.

      Should I feed the trolls, or give this “highly intelligent extremely well read published author who had an excellent long thorough Catholic formation” the benefit of the doubt?

      How many poisonous, heretical hosts can you tolerate before you shun a so-called Catholic TV station? A few bad ones, here and there? Nope. It’s the whole enterprise. It’s like “saint” JPII who gave us Cardinals Bernardine, Mohoney, Casaroli, de Lubac, Law, Keeler, Congar, Schönborn, Kasper, McCarrick, Bergoglio, Dulles, Tauran, etc. When do you begin to suspect the judgment of the management?

      My dad loved to watch Groeschel because he confirmed my dad in his Lutheranism, i.e., no need to change. So he didn’t change. Now he spends eternity with Luther. Should I have a problem with EWTN letting that horror of a priest destroy souls on an international scale? You bet I should.

      So, Eliza the well read, try to get the whole picture together before spot-checking the web to throw up some not-so-well-considered remarks.

    • I always love it when I see the “How can you possibly criticize (insert heterodox person/organization here)? They were responsible for my (conversion/return to the Church/going to the TLM)!” God can and does use bad things for the cause of good. If I had an epiphany that led me to the Church while I was at a Justin Bieber concert, does that mean that His Biebness should be revered by all Catholics? Or, having found faith when in the sewer, argue that feces smells great? EWTN is a cesspool, and should be avoided.

  4. Eliza:

    A, welcome to AQ and to the world’s most followed Trad website.

    B, Keep reading – especially Christopher Ferrara’s book on EWTN.

    C, Yes, as we all made a point to acknowledge, there ARE good things there – but, etc., etc. (see comments from others, above).

    And, D, Fr. Pacwa is actually a very orthodox Jesuit possessed of enormous intellectual accomplishments, especially in linguistics. He speaks at least seven languages and, last I heard, was studying Aramaic.

    Oh, and E, if we don’t have at least four dozen serious faults we can’t post here. This is, after all, a CATHOLIC website.

    : – )

  5. Btw, “Dave Stone” was last seen hawking vegetable juice on the internet and wearing an Hawaiian shirt, although I think he hasn’t completely gotten over being a Franciscan priest since he still had his sandals on.

    You might try contacting any Gold’s Gym outlets in Medjugoogoo Land. He was into weights in college, I recall. And Bosnia-Herzogovina is famous for the liberties it will allow Franciscan clerics to get away with. Since the boys in brown have already posted a $$$ multi-billion bonanza in that region, it looks like a target-rich environment for a young, earnest guy with an MBA and definitely on his way to bigger and better things…

  6. Father Gruner was sanctioned and had all of his faculties removed as a priest.
    I would hardly call that “faithful and unswerving” service. :(

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