By Frank Wessling
Well now! Catholic Messenger readers erupted in indignation over Keith Soko’s essay (1/29/09) critical of EWTN, the TV network founded by a Poor Clare Sister known as Mother Angelica. Some don’t understand how Soko, who teaches theology at St. Ambrose University, can even call himself Catholic.
Apparently his points of criticism were felt so sharply by the many readers who wrote to the editor that his main point was lost: that EWTN shouldn’t be seen as the Catholic channel.
Its programming offers a comfortable, conservative sense of Catholicism with emphasis on the devotional and instruction through hierarchy. It’s fair to say that in the EWTN universe, the Spirit is well domesticated.
This meets the needs and desires of a great many people, obviously, since EWTN has had remarkable success. But its audience is short-changed in some areas, two especially: the great restlessness for social justice, along with charity, that has built up in modern Catholicism, and recognition that the Holy Spirit is working through aspirations and competencies in lay people today differently than in the past, especially among women.
As Soko said, EWTN offers one Catholic standpoint. It isn’t the whole story.