|Slogan||The Global Catholic Network|
Live Truth. Live Catholic.
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)16:9/4:3|
|Owner||Eternal Word Television Network Inc.|
|Launched||August 15, 1981|
|WEWN (Eternal Word Radio Network)||Shortwave radio frequencies|
|Available on nearly all cable providers||Consult local listings|
|Dish Network||Channel 261|
|Verizon FiOS||Channel 285|
|AT&T U-verse||Channel 562|
|Sirius XM Satellite Radio||Channel 130|
The Eternal Word Television Network, more commonly known by its initials EWTN, is an American basic cable television network which presents around-the-clock Roman Catholic-themed programming. It was founded by Mother Angelica, PCPA, in 1980 and began broadcasting on August 15, 1981, from a garage studio at the Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale, Alabama, which Mother Angelica founded in 1962. She hosted her own show, Mother Angelica Live, until suffering a major stroke and other health issues in September 2001. Repeats now air as either the Best of Mother Angelica Live or Mother Angelica Live Classics. From then until her death on Easter Sunday of 2016, she led a cloistered life at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama.
Regular network programs include a daily Holy Mass and sometimes Tridentine Mass format, the traditional Stations of the Cross, a taped daily recitation of the Rosary, and daily and weekly news, discussion, and Catechetical programs for both adults and children. Christmas and Easter programming; the installation Masses of bishops and cardinals; coverage of World Youth Days; and papal visits, deaths, funerals, conclaves, and elections are also presented. Spanish language broadcasts are available on all platforms. On December 8, 2009, EWTN began broadcasting high-definition television.
The network's current chairman of the board and chief executive officer is Michael P. Warsaw. While the network has trustees, it does not have shareholders or owners. A majority of the network's funding is from viewer donations about which it advertises 100% viewer supported, which keeps it from advertising secular or non-Catholic programming. Its traditional plea for donations is "Keep us between your gas and electric bill".[note 1]
EWTN owns the National Catholic Register newspaper, which it acquired in January 2011, and Catholic News Agency. The network maintains an online presence through its primary site, EWTN.com, and it has a dedicated commercial site, EWTNReligiousCatalogue.com. EWTN also has a 24-hour radio network, offering Catholic talk and worship programming to about 350 radio stations around the U.S. as well as SiriusXM Satellite Radio and shortwave radio. Some of the schedule is the audio from EWTN television shows and some is original programming for radio listeners.
Mother Angelica made her profession of vows in 1953. In 1962 she established Our Lady of the Angels monastery. During the 1970s, she was an in-demand lecturer and produced pamphlets and audio and video tapes. She had been a guest on local station WBMG (currently WIAT, Channel 42), and on shows on the Christian Broadcasting Network and the Trinity Broadcasting Network. After she gave an interview on then-Christian station WCFC (Channel 38) in Chicago, she decided she wanted her own network. "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'".
Mother Angelica purchased satellite space and EWTN began broadcasting on August 15, 1981, with four hours of daily programming, which included her own show, Mother Angelica Live (aired bi-weekly), a Sunday Mass, and reruns of older Catholic programs such as Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's Life Is Worth Living. The remainder of the time was filled with shows produced by dioceses across the country, shows from Protestant sources which Mother Angelica determined were in concert with Catholic teachings, and children's shows such as Joy Junction and The Sunshine Factory. About one-third of programming time consisted of secular content, such as re-runs of The Bill Cosby Show, public domain films, and cooking and western-themed shows. EWTN eventually increased its broadcast schedule to six hours per day and then to eight hours per day by 1986. Secular content was gradually reduced from 1986 to 1988, and satellite distribution was expanded late in 1987, after which EWTN acquired a far more desirable satellite channel and began broadcasting around the clock. At this point, EWTN began broadcasting the praying of the rosary on a daily basis and added a number of educational shows. In-house production of original programming gradually increased. The Mass became televised daily in 1991 from a chapel on the monastery grounds. Most shows from non-Catholic sources were eliminated and a more theological image gradually developed.
In 1999, programs included Mother Angelica Live and "Life Is Worth Living" with Fulton J. Sheen. WGSN in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was an affiliate. Current radio programs include Open Line in which callers can have their questions regarding the Catholic Faith answered.
In January 2011, EWTN acquired the National Catholic Register, a newspaper founded in Denver, Colorado, in 1924 as a periodical for local Catholics, and which became a national publication three years later. EWTN officially assumed total control on February 1, 2011. EWTN also owns Catholic News Agency which is a Catholic news service with bureaus across America, Latin America and Europe.
The EWTN news department produces a daily news service for television and radio, featuring news sources including Vatican Radio. It also produces The World Over Live, which reports relevant current events. Journalist and author Raymond Arroyo, who is EWTN's news director, hosts the program. The program is conservative in its political orientation and generally conservative in its religious orientation. Notable guests have included Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation, author and activist George Weigel, political commentator Laura Ingraham, conservative political commentator Pat Buchanan, and the late columnist and commentator Robert Novak, a Jewish convert to the Catholic Faith.
EWTN was founded by Mother Angelica, PCPA, in 1980 and began broadcasting on August 15, 1981, from a garage studio at the Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale, Alabama, which Mother Angelica founded in 1962.
In its early history, EWTN broadcast Catholic programming from a great variety of Catholic sources, which ranged from Catholic charismatic programming, such as that of Fr. Michael Manning, to programs focusing on social reform and social justice, such as Christopher Closeup, to doctrinal programs hosted by clergy.
In the early 1990s, EWTN began producing more of its own programs. This effort marked a conspicuously conservative shift in its overall orientation, with programs on topics of social reform and justice gradually eliminated and replaced by programs on doctrine and programs of dialogue. The shift was apparent in the daily televised Masses, which, in 1992, began incorporating Latin into the liturgy and gradually eliminated contemporary music. Some untelevised Masses are totally in English and some include more contemporary music. On Christmas Eve of 1993, Mother Angelica and the nuns of her order reverted to traditional habits. From 1992 on, the Latin portions of the Mass included the Gloria, introduction of the Gospel readings, the Sanctus, and the remainder of the Mass after the Great Amen, beginning with the Lord's Prayer.
Among its notable weekly programs are The Journey Home and Life on the Rock. The Journey Home, hosted by Marcus Grodi, presents converts to the Catholic Faith. Grodi is a former Presbyterian minister who converted to the Catholic Faith in 1992. Although most guests are former Protestants, former members of non-Christian faiths (such as Judaism) and former atheists occasionally appear. Life on the Rock is hosted by Rev. Mark Mary, MFVA.
In October 2011, EWTN became available through the Roku streaming player. The player provides six live channels of EWTN at no cost, including English, Spanish, and German languages, thus permitting users to view the channel on their televisions. In addition, select EWTN programs can be viewed through the video on demand option, and a live feed of EWTN Radio is available.
Often, EWTN airs special programming -- holiday-specific programs; coverage of the deaths of Supreme Pontiffs; Papal conclaves, Papal elections, inaugurations, and visits; Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Easter Masses; installations of bishops, archbishops, and cardinals; and World Youth Days.
EWTN's top news program EWTN News Nightly was hosted by veteran journalist Lauren Ashburn, who was previously with Fox News Channel. Ashburn left EWTN in July 2019 to spend more time with her children.
In a 1993 episode of Mother Angelica Live, Mother Angelica harshly criticized a mimed re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross at the World Youth Day in Denver, Colorado, which Pope John Paul II attended. Mother Angelica was angered that a woman was playing Jesus. Archbishop Rembert Weakland of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee criticized Mother Angelica's comment as "one of the most disgraceful, un-Christian, offensive, and divisive diatribes I have ever heard". Mother Angelica responded that "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!"
In 1997, Mother Angelica publicly criticized Cardinal Roger Mahony, then Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, for his pastoral letter on the Eucharist, "Gather Faithfully Together: A Guide for Sunday Mass", which she perceived as lacking emphasis on transubstantiation: "I'm afraid my obedience in that diocese would be absolutely zero. And I hope everybody else's in that diocese is zero". Cardinal Mahony regarded her comments as accusing him of heresy. Mother Angelica later conditionally apologized for her comments.
In 1999, Bishop David E. Foley of the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama, issued a decree prohibiting priests in his diocese from celebrating Mass ad orientem (which literally denotes "to the east", which refers to the priest having their back to the congregation) under most circumstances. Although the decree did not specifically name EWTN, supporters and critics generally agreed that the decree, which applied to "... any Mass that is or will be televised for broadcast or videotaped for public dissemination", was authored specifically to target EWTN. Bishop Foley stated that the practice of the priest celebrating ad orientem "amounts to making a political statement and is dividing the people."
In 2007, Francis Mary Stone, an ordained Catholic priest who hosted the network's show Life On The Rock, was suspended from the network after it was revealed that he violated his vow of celibacy and fathered a child with EWTN employee Christina Presnell. Stone was forced on leave of absence, and Presnell was fired from EWTN. By 2018, he was reported to be suspended from his religious order.
In 2000, Archbishop Roberto González Nieves of San Juan, Puerto Rico, performed an apostolic visitation of EWTN. Nieves focused on three issues -- the actual ownership of the network; the associated monastery's right to donate property to EWTN; and, since she had never been elected, the authority of Mother Angelica. Mother Angelica decided that the future of the network would be in danger if she did not sever all ties to it, which she did, ceding control to a lay board of directors.
EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world, and it says it has a reach of a quarter-billion people in 140 countries. The network is unrated in the United States, though various articles cite millions of viewers watch per month. On YouTube and other social media platforms, EWTN has more than 1,000,000 active followers and online viewers. EWTN is also available on demand on streaming services Roku, Kindle, and Apple TV. EWTN's Internet site is viewed three to four million times monthly, according to SimilarWeb. In the United States, EWTN is available through most cable and satellite providers with a reach of around 70 million households. EWTN had an annual revenue of $64,946,744 in 2019, and has received an 84.3 (our of 100) overall score and rating from Charity Navigator.
EWTN Vaticano, on Sundays and available On-Demand
EWTN's logo has incorporated a globe outline in some form since the network's launch in 1981 to suggest the network's hope of a worldwide reach, usually with an outline of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica within a profile of a satellite dish inside of it. The network had the sub-branding of the "Catholic Cable Network" until 1995, when with the launch of DirecTV and Dish direct satellite broadcasters (where it was a charter network with both providers) it took a new sub-branding of "International Catholic Network", then "Global Catholic Network" in 1996 after uploading its signal for worldwide viewing.