The Vatican’s top diplomat has called on the U.S.-based media conglomerate Eternal Word Television Network, which regularly criticizes Pope Francis, to make “communion with the Pope be the distinctive sign” of the operation’s work.
Catholic media, said Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, can be an active part of church life “first of all by living in a spirit of communion with the Bishop of Rome.”
“This is all the more urgent today in a time marked by overly-dramatic debates, also within the Church, which do not even spare the person and the Magisterium of the Pontiff,” he added.
Parolin, who serves at the Vatican’s secretary of state, delivered his remarks at the invitation of EWTN, as the network is known, at a meeting of its European affiliates in Frascati, Italy, on Oct. 19. His remarks were published by the Vatican on Oct. 21.
“The means of communication, even more so if they purport to highlight their Catholic identity, must strive not to spread hate, but rather, to promote a non-hostile communication,” the cardinal said.
In recent years, EWTN, which also owns the National Catholic Register and Catholic News Agency — and is one of the Catholic Church’s largest media enterprises — has become known for its regular antagonistic coverage of Francis and partisan political focus, often supportive of former U.S. President Donald Trump.
Most notably, one of its leading hosts, Raymond Arroyo, has regularly promoted and interviewed the schismatic former papal ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. Viganò previously has called for Francis’ resignation.
In September 2021, during a trip to Slovakia, Francis himself offered a thinly-veiled criticism of the network, saying that while he may be worthy of personal scrutiny, the church does not deserve attacks such as those regularly made by the media outlet.
“There is, for example, a large Catholic television channel that has no hesitation in continually speaking ill of the pope,” Francis said. “I personally deserve attacks and insults because I am a sinner, but the church does not deserve them. They are the work of the devil. I have also said this to some of them.”
Read Cardinal Parolin’s complete remarks here.
“Communication” contains the root “communion”. Communion is in the DNA of communication, and is fundamentally its greatest aspiration. A communication that instead fans the flames of polarization, or builds walls instead of breaking them down, betrays its very nature. The proclamation of the truth cannot be separated from the exercise of charity. Saint John Paul II already advocated this in his Message for the XXV World Communications Day when, echoing Communio et Progressio published twenty years earlier, he observed that “if the media are to be effective means of fellowship and genuine human advancement, they must be channels and expressions of truth, justice and peace, good will and active charity, mutual help, love and communion”.
I would like to conclude with something particularly close to my heart. Catholic media, as you well know, has an important role in the task of the new evangelization. This is why it is good that they feel that they are an active part of the life of the Church, first of all by living in a spirit of communion with the Bishop of Rome. This is all the more urgent today in a time marked by overly-dramatic debates, also within the Church, which do not even spare the person and the Magisterium of the Pontiff. When Mother Angelica founded EWTN with tremendous courage and extraordinary creativity, she did so primarily to provide an instrument of good at the service of the Church and the Pope. This continues to be your greatest mission and reward – to be and to experience yourselves at the service of the Church and the Successor of Peter. As Saint John Paul II stated, recalling Jesus’ prayer for Peter (Lk 22:31), the mission entrusted to him by Jesus concerns the Church as it extends through the centuries and through human generations (cf. General Audience, 2 December 1992). The devil always seeks to sift us like wheat, but Jesus’ prayer for Peter and his successors is our anchor of salvation.