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EWTN logo.svg
Launched 1981
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Headquarters Irondale, Alabama, United States
EWTN Radio Network station list
Shortwave radio frequency list
DirecTV Channel 370
Dish Network Channel 261
Sky Angel Channel 143
Sky Digital UK Channel 589
SKY Italia Channel 965
Galaxy 17 Transponder 11, 3920Mhz - QPSK Digital Multiple Channels
Galaxy 15 Transponder 11, Analog Master Feed
Available on many cable systems Check local listings for channels
Satellite radio
Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 160
Verizon FIOS Channel 285

The Eternal Word Television Network, or EWTN, is a United States-based broadcasting network that carries Roman Catholic-themed programming. The programs include a daily Mass from its Birmingham, Alabama monastery and studios, talk shows such as EWTN Live and Sunday Night Live, Daily Rosary, Benediction, doctrinal instruction programs, entertainment/variety shows, children's programming, live coverage of world Roman Catholic events such as bishops' conferences and papal travels, music shows and youth programming. It is an independent charitable organization based in Irondale, Alabama, USA. The network has trustees but does not have shareholders or owners.[1] It is also a member of the World Catholic Association for Communication, or SIGNIS.[2][3]


Mother Angelica's first television series

Mother Angelica began receiving requests for speaking engagements, which led to the development of a video series of her talks taped at a local CBS affiliate Birmingham television station WIAT (then known as WBMG). Her shows aired on CBN Cable (now ABC Family) as well as TBN. She decided that she wanted her own television station after appearing as a guest on a Christian network talk show in Chicago. About that appearance, she has said:[4]

I walked in, and it was just a little studio, and I remember standing in the doorway and thinking, it doesn't take much to reach the masses. I just stood there and said to the Lord, "Lord, I've got to have one of these."

In 1980 she built a TV studio on monastery property in Irondale, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham. This developed into the worldwide broadcast center that is currently known as "EWTN" or the "Eternal Word Television Network."

Development of EWTN

EWTN's main studio.

Mother Angelica purchased satellite space and EWTN signed on in August 1981 with 4 hours a day of programming, including talk shows, Mother Angelica Live (aired two nights a week), Sunday Mass once a week, and re-runs of older Catholic programs such as Life Is Worth Living with Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. The remainder of the time was filled with shows produced by Catholic dioceses across the country. Other programs occupying the schedule included Christian drama shows produced by the Lutheran Church; This is Life and Patterns for Living, some other Protestant teaching programs that Mother Angelica determined were in agreement with her understanding of Catholic principles, and children's shows such as Joy Junction and The Sunshine Factory. About a third of programming time consisted of secular content, such as re-runs of The Bill Cosby Show, public domain movies, and cooking and western-themed shows.

Secular content was gradually dropped from 1986 to 1988, and in 1987 satellite distribution was expanded to a more desirable channel and EWTN went to 24 hours a day. At this point, the channel began running prayer of the rosary daily and added a number of Catholic doctrine teaching shows. Program production gradually increased at the station.

The Mass which aired weekly became televised daily in 1991 and their production approached nearly half the day. At this point all shows from non-Catholic sources were dropped. A more conservative image gradually developed, which remains to this date.

Viewership statistics

EWTN's own promotional information states that it has become the largest religious media network in the world. It transmits 24-hour programming to more than 123 million homes (146 million homes as of February 2008) in 127 countries and 16 territories on more than 4,800 cable systems (5,200 cable systems as of February 2008), wireless cable, direct broadcast satellite (DBS), low power TV and individual satellite users. According to a 1994 cover story in the National Catholic Reporter, “Mother Angelica claims to reach 38 million homes in 49 states, and every Latin American capital 24 hours a day, though EWTN has made no scientific studies to measure who really watches. The network does this with a staff of 124 for about $8.5 million a year, while raising about $25 million a year in donations.”[5]


In 1992, EWTN established the largest privately owned shortwave radio station, WEWN, in the Birmingham area. The station broadcasts Catholic programming 24 hours a day in English and Spanish. In 1996, EWTN launched a free satellite-delivered AM/FM radio network to stations worldwide, also in English and Spanish.

In 2004, EWTN announced an agreement with Sirius Satellite Radio, which allows Sirius to carry EWTN programming.

In April 2008, EWTN broadcast for six days on XM Radio to cover the papal visit of Pope Benedict XVI.


The EWTN News department produces a daily news service for the television and radio network, featuring news sources including Vatican Radio. They also produce a show combining worldwide topics of current interest and politics along with Catholic teaching, entitled The World Over, hosted by Raymond Arroyo. The program is consistently conservative in its political orientation and generally conservative in its religious orientation: well-known guests have included Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, George Weigel, Laura Ingraham, Pat Buchanan, Robert Novak, and others.

History of programming

In its early history, EWTN ran Catholic-produced programming from a wide variety of Catholic sources. This ranged from Catholic charismatic programming such as Fr. Michael Manning, to shows focusing on social reform and social justice, such as Christopher Closeup, to doctrinal teaching shows hosted by various priests and bishops.

In the early 1990s, EWTN began producing more of its own shows and broadcasting the Mass daily. There was a distinctive conservative shift in the network's overall orientation, with programs featuring topics on social reform and justice gradually being phased out and replaced with general doctrinal teaching and discussion programs. This shift was apparent in the daily televised Masses, which in 1992 began incorporating Latin into the liturgy and no longer featured contemporary music or guitars and drums. On Christmas Eve of 1993, Mother Angelica and her order of nuns changed their habit to a more traditional style.

EWTN has programs discussing non-Catholic beliefs from its Catholic perspective, such as The Journey Home in which converts to Catholicism, usually from other Christian denominations, indicate their former beliefs, state their reasons for converting and discuss the spiritual journey that they traveled to reach the Catholic Church (hence the program's title). Guests are usually former Protestant pastors and ministers and occasionally include laypeople who are converts to the Catholic faith, as well as "cradle Catholics" who fell away from their early faith and later returned.

Sunday Night Live with Fr. Benedict Groeschel hosts religious discussions which often include participation from callers of many different faiths, (i.e. Catholics as well other Christian denominations, usually Protestants, and includes other religions such as Jews, Muslims, Hindus as stated by individual callers on the show). Viewer questions can be answered from both a spiritual and a psychological perspective, as Fr. Groeschel is not only a friar and a priest, but also a trained psychologist.

The network also airs coverage of Church events worldwide, documentaries, music specials, Eucharistic Adorations, the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and other devotional segments.

EWTN HD, a high definition simulcast of EWTN, became available to affiliates on December 8, 2009. Network CEO Michael P. Warsaw said "We chose to launch HD in December so we could bring our viewers all the beautiful images of the Christmas season using the most advanced technology. We are proud to say that we are the only Catholic television network available in this format."[6]

Confrontations, controversy and criticism

EWTN has been the target of criticism for its social, political and theological stances and positions, and has engaged in controversy with persons, organizations and ideas on both the left and right.

In her live show on EWTN, Mother Angelica criticized a mimed Stations of the Cross performance that featured a woman playing Jesus which was viewed by Pope John Paul II at World Youth Day in Denver, Colorado, in 1993. Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee, Wisconsin responded in an editorial to Mother Angelica’s criticisms about the pageant and other post-Vatican II issues in the Roman Catholic Church, saying: "It was one of the most disgraceful, un-Christian, offensive, and divisive diatribes I have ever heard." Mother Angelica’s responded to Weakland's criticism by saying, "He didn't think a woman playing Jesus was offensive?", "He can go put his head in the back toilet as far as I am concerned."[7]

In 1997, on her live show on EWTN, Mother Angelica publicly criticized Roger Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles for his pastoral letter on the Eucharist entitled "Gather Faithfully Together: A Guide for Sunday Mass".[8] Upset by the perceived lack of emphasis on transubstantiation, she said, "I’m afraid my obedience in that diocese would be absolutely zero. And I hope everybody else’s in that diocese is zero".[9] She later issued a conditional and reluctant apology.[10]

In 1999, Bishop David Foley of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama issued a decree prohibiting priests in his diocese from celebrating Mass in the ad orientem position (literally "to the east", with people and priest facing in the same direction) under most circumstances.[11] Though the decree never specifically mentioned EWTN, both supporters and critics of EWTN agreed that it was directed at Mother Angelica's Roman Catholic television network, applying the prohibition to "any Mass that is or will be televised for broadcast or videotaped for public dissemination." Bishop Foley stated that the practice of having the priest's back to the people "amounts to making a political statement and is dividing the people."[11] The network eventually complied with Bishop Foley's order.[12]

As a result, the Holy See appointed an apostolic visitor to examine the situation of Mother Angelica's monastery. To prevent the Holy See from making changes in the way her network was run, Mother Angelica resigned her positions on the EWTN board. This action cut all official connection with her monastery, bringing EWTN under an entirely lay management, none of whose members were directly dependent on the bishops or the Holy See.[13][14]

Some traditionalist Catholics have alleged EWTN is too willing to embrace modernistic aspects of post-Vatican II Catholicism.[15]

Papal award

Pope Benedict XVI has awarded Mother Angelica the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, also known as the Cross of Honor, given for distinguished service to the church. In commenting on the award, Bishop of Birmingham Alabama Robert J. Baker said the medal is "a significant acknowledgment by our Holy Father, of Mother's labors of love in support of our Church. By giving awards the Church is not saying people or institutions are perfect, but we are saying that Mother Angelica, through this network, has made a significant contribution to the new evangelization heralded and promoted by recent Popes."[16]

Program titles

A partial listing of EWTN programs:

  • Mother Angelica Live Classics
  • Daily Mass
  • Life on the Rock
  • My Little Angels
  • We Are Catholic
  • The Carpenter's Shop
  • Adventures in Odyssey
  • The Joy of Music, starring concert organist Diane Bish
  • EWTN Live - Fr. Mitch Pacwa SJ
  • The Journey Home - Marcus Grodi
  • Pope Fiction - Patrick Madrid
  • Pequeño Jesús
  • Now That We Are Catholic
  • Jesus Christ - True God/True Man - Raymond D'Souza
  • The World Over Live - Raymond Arroyo
  • Web Of Faith - Fr. John Trigilio & Fr. Robert Levis
  • G. K. Chesterton: Apostle of Common Sense - Dale Ahlquist
  • Household Of Faith - Kristine Franklin & Rosalind Moss
  • The Abundant Life - Johnette Benkovic
  • Does The Church Still Teach This? - Fr. Shannon Collins FME
  • Sunday Night Live - Fr. Benedict Groeschel
  • Catholics Coming Home - Msgr. Frank E. Bognanno
  • Threshold Of Hope - Fr. Mitch Pacwa S.J.
  • Defending Life - Fr. Frank Pavone and Janet Morana
  • EWTN Bookmark - with Doug Keck
  • Catholicism on Campus - with Msgr. Stuart Swetland
  • Finding God Through Faith and Reason - with Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D
  • The Pure Life - with Jason and Crystallina Evert
  • Crash Course in Catholicism - with Fr. John Trigilio and Fr. Ken Brighenti
  • Father Corapi and the Catechism of the Catholic Church - with Fr. John Corapi
  • The Quest for Shakespeare - Joseph Pearce
  • Reasons For Our Hope - Rosalind Moss
  • Reclaiming Your Children For The Faith - Fr. Robert J. Fox
  • Super Saints - hosted by Bob and Penny Lord [1]
  • The Friar

See also


  2. ^ "Board of Management". SIGNIS. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  3. ^ "Members". SIGNIS. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  4. ^ Applebome, Peter (October 8, 1989). "Scandals Aside, TV Preachers Thrive". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Raymond A. Schroth Angelica, EWTN push Disneyland church: smiles hide anger, yen for the old certainties Cover Story, National Catholic Reporter, July 15, 1994.
  6. ^ Multichannel News October 20, 2009 EWTN Plans HD Launch In December - Global Catholic Net Says Feed Will Be Available to Affiliates Dec. 8
  7. ^ Raymond Arroyo, Mother Angelica: the Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve and a Network of Miracles. (pp. 243-244)
  8. ^ Gather Faithfully Together: A Guide for Sunday Mass
  9. ^ Margaret O'Brien Steinfels Liturgical confusion-criticism over a pastoral letter Editorial, Commonweal, January 30, 1998
  10. ^ John L. Allen, Jr. Mahony sees nun's critique as heresy charge-Cardinal Roger Mahony; dispute with televangelist Mother M. Angelica, National Catholic Reporter, Dec 5, 1997.
  11. ^ a b John L. Allen, Jr. EWTN's bishop says priests must face the people-Eternal Word Television Network-Brief Article, National Catholic Reporter November 19, 1999.
  12. ^ Msgr. Guido Marini, Papal Master of Ceremonies, quoted in Pope celebrates Mass ad orientem, speaks on Baptism, Catholic World News, January 14, 2008.
  13. ^ Mother Angelica: The remarkable story of a nun, her nerve and a network of miracles
  14. ^ article by Robert Sungenis
  15. ^ "EWTN: Vehicle of Neo-Modernism". Good Council Publishing. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  16. ^ Mother Angelica Awarded Top Honor by Pope Benedict XVI

External links

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