Page 4, 19th December 1997

19th December 1997
Page 4
Page 4, 19th December 1997 — Beware of (or welcome?) the TV evangelists
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Organisations: Catholic Church
Locations: Birmingham, Surrey

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Beware of (or welcome?) the TV evangelists

YOUR REPORT (5 December) and profile of Mother Angelica (12 December) reminded me of the television film screened some years ago called The Vision, starring the late Lee Remick. In it was revealed a nightmare scenario of fundamentalist evangelical manipulative horrors (as is commonplace on American television) which would be unleashed on the British viewing public if the wealthy sponsors had their way.

The authorities at the time assured us that such a proposect was impossible, and that the sort of televangelism represented by Oral Roberts, Jim Bakker (also Mother Angelica, the evangelicals not having it all their own way) et al. would never be allowed.

Now we learn that it may come to pass. Indeed with cable and satellite now and with digital on the way, the future looks alarming. How long before the cult gurus of the David Koresh (of Waco infamy) type will have access to our screens?

D F O'Neil

Liverpool

THE PROSPECT of a 24 hour Catholic television channel makes the hermit's life look more attractive.

Having viewed religious broadcasting in the U.S., I am persuaded that television evangelists need us far more than we need them. Filling 24 hours with quality viewing will be a mammoth task in a culture unreceptive to this media.

Those responsible for religious broadcasting would do well to look at what the missionary/religious orders are doing.

Kairos Communications run by the Divine Word Missionaries in Ireland produce excellent, watchable programmes. Free us from negative images of religious people.

Fr John V Bettison SVD Birmingham

YOUR REPORT that a Catholic TV Channel could open here in 1998 is the best news Catholics in this country could have. What a pity that Fr John Wijngaard should be so scathing about it. To admit that Mother Angelica dominates American Catholic television and then to claim that it consists of "Bible thumping fundamentalism" and to claim that it represents "a narrow conservative viewpoint undesirable here" is so far from the truth that one wonders where

he obtained his facts. Earlier this year I was privileged to spend some time in Birmingham, Alabama, where I saw many of the Eternal Word TV Network programmes being made and transmitted. I saw several interesting discussions on topics important to Catholics, interviews with professors and theologians, thoughtful helpful talks from holy priests and Mother Angelica passing on the fruits of her deep spirituality with compassion and good humour to over 40 million homes across America. Never once did I see a Bible being thumped, but I did see a reverent, beautiful Mass being transmitted daily, the Rosary recited in various settings and other devotions helping people in America and many other countries come closer to God.

As for being conservative, on the contrary, Mother Angelica is right up to date with Vatican Two and post Council documents. For instance, every Monday evening her own bishop, Bishop Foley, reads and discusses a section of The Catechism of the Catholic Church and then takes questions on it, live.

Daphne McLeod Gt Bookham, Surrey




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