What Is Going On At EWTN?

Christopher White reports:

The Eternal Word Television Network, one of the Catholic Church’s largest media enterprises, is entering 2021 under a cloud of uncertainty with a slate of departures, some forced and others voluntary, among its radio and television hosts and news editors. The changes at EWTN come at a time when the company is also under scrutiny for its often-uncritical embrace of the Trump administration, regular opposition to Pope Francis and questionable adherence to journalistic standards.

On Dec. 30, EWTN announced the cancellation of radio host Gloria Purvis’ morning show, “Morning Glory,” which regularly featured her pro-life commentary alongside calls for Catholics to become more vocal in opposing racism. In June, the Texas-based Guadalupe Radio Network — the largest EWTN radio affiliate in the U.S — pulled her show soon after she consistently expressed dismay over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Despite initially insisting the program was “going strong,” the network cancelled her show without warning.

EWTN also cancelled the “Open Line” radio show with Fr. Larry Richards. While he did not provide a reason for the cancellation, Richards, who is known as a regular defender of Pope Francis on his program, announced his firing on social media. “We will see where the Lord leads me next! His will be done!,” he wrote.

Mike Lewis provides additional context:

Perhaps last week’s news that EWTN had reshuffled its radio lineup, dismissing several longtime on-air voices including Gloria Purvis (who was outspoken this year about the US Church’s failure to address racism) and Fr. Larry Richards (who has been a staunch defender of Pope Francis), shouldn’t be surprising. After all, in recent months, the network’s political sycophancy and journalistic malpractice—which had already been quite egregious—only increased in the weeks following the presidential election. Still, for those of us who held out hope that there would be an intervention to bring the network more closely in line with the Magisterium and less blatant in its opposition to Pope Francis, this is a discouraging sign….

In his book The Outsider: Pope Francis and His Battle to Reform the Church, Vatican journalist Christopher Lamb wrote about the growing concern in the Vatican about the increasing dissent at the network…

Although there certainly are other forces besides rich benefactors at work behind EWTN’s radical turn and the network’s disloyalty to the Roman Pontiff, it seems probable that the influence of figures like Hanna and Busch won’t make it any easier for EWTN to embrace an authentically Catholic approach.