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Position of Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) and Mother Angelica on Caritas of Birmingham, Alabama

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Question for Bill Bilton, Ph.D.

Caritas of Birmingham - Question from Roberta on 6/18/2001:

Is Caritas of Birmingham a legitimate place to get Our Lady's messages? This group mails out blue post cards with the monthly message. The disturbing part is the coomentary by the "Founder", who will not reveal who he or she is. The group claims to have an inside line to the happenings at Medjugorge. Some of the commentary seems overly strict and somewhat outlandish. Can you let me know whether I should continue receiving their mailings?

Answer by Bill Bilton on 6/19/2001:

Caritas of Birmingham is a controversial organization. Our local bishop has stated in the daily newspaper that it is a "business" and his priests do not have permission to celebrate Mass there. With such a negative standing with Church authority in the Diocese of Birmingham, I believe you can reach your own conclusion about the wisdom of pursuing any interest in the organization.

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Question for Colin B. Donovan, STL

Caritas Birmingham Planned Apparition - Question from Mary Sonnier on 7/23/2004:

I was wondering how EWTN and Mother Angelica felt about Caritas. When I called the Birmingham Diocese about it they said stay away they did not support it. But while at the temple or the shrine not sure which one I picked up some pieta books and it has Caritas in the book. I was just wondering if the Church or the Pope (someone told me he approved it) approved it, and how yall fill about it. Thanks Mary SOnnier.

Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 9/13/2004:

Caritas has no ecclesiastical approval, local or Roman. Successive bishops have forbidden the celebration of the Mass there. Despite its proximity, whenever anyone asked Mother Angelica about Caritas she never encouraged anyone to visit it. If it is mentioned in a book sold at the Shrine it is purely coincidental and most definitely NOT an approval.

I might note, there are groups called Caritas other than Caritas of Birmingham, including a Catholic charity, Caritas International, supported by the Church in Italy.

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Question for Colin B. Donovan, STL

Cults - Question from Craig Adkins on 7/18/2005:

What is EWTN's position on the pre-planned apparition of the supposed Our Lady of Medjugorie in early August 2005 sponsored by the Caritas group? The apparition is to take place in your backyard Birmingham, AL. The apparition is to celebrate Mary's birthday. The church has always celebrated Mary's birthday September 9th, but I guess according to the Medjugorie people that Mary told the children in the early 1980's that her real birth was in August. Seems as more desperation to prove a false apparition?

Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 8/2/2005:

Actually, the Feast of the Birthday of Mary is September 8th, not the 9th. That is a liturgical celebration by the Church, not an assertion of an historical date. The association of Mary with August 5th historically is the apparition of Our Lady of the Snows, a day on which, as promised by a vision, snow fell in Rome to mark the place where the Pope was to build a "temple" to the Blessed Virgin. That "temple" is the Pontifical Basilica of St. Mary Majors (the highest ranked Marian church in the world), the dedication of which is celebrated each August 5th. Could that be the actual day of Mary's birth? Who knows? One could even argue that snow better signifies her Immaculate Conception than her birth. In any case, an unrecognized apparition is no proof of anything.

As for Caritas of Birmingham, the recent bishops of the Birmingham diocese (Boland and Foley) have done nothing to favor this site, and have forbid the celebration of Mass there (though not confessions).

The position of Mother Angelica has always been to discourage people from going there. That is also EWTN's position.

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Question for David M. Gregson, Ph.D.

Caritas of Birmingham - Question from Sandy T. on 5/23/2008:

I am reading a book titled "Look What Happened While You Were Sleeping" by a Friend of Medjugore. It is published by Caritas of Birmingham. Do you know anything about this book or publisher? There was no Church approval imprimatur nor nhil obstat names in this book. Thank you for your attention!

Answer by David Gregson on 6/30/2008:

No, I don’t know the book. Caritas, Birmingham, a religious group claiming Marian apparitions, has no ecclesiastical approval, local or Roman. Birmingham’s two previous Bishops, Boland and Foley, forbad the celebration of Mass there, but allowed confessions. Our present Bishop, Robert Baker, has continued the same policy. Mother Angelica always discouraged people from visiting there.

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Question for Dr. Richard Geraghty

Caritas of Birmingham - Question from on 12-23-2010:

Dear Dr. Geraghty, Concerning the upcoming apparition at Caritas of Birmingham with a visionary from Medjudgorje (Marija) March 19 - March 23, 2010, advertised on their website, okay for Roman Catholics to attend? Thank you!

Answer by Richard Geraghty on 01-05-2011:

Dear Anon,

I know that Caritas of Birmingham have no official tie with the Bishop. From what I have seen on the web site, the group sounds to me very much like a cult. I would discourage attending. But I am no expert on this.

Dr. Geraghty

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About Mother Mary Angelica and EWTN experts

Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, PCPA

Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, PCPA (born Rita Antoinette Rizzo on April 20, 1923) is an American Roman Catholic nun who founded the Eternal Word Television Network. In 1944 she entered the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, a Franciscan religious order for women, as a postulant, and a year later she was admitted to the order as a novice. She went on to found a new house for the order in 1962 in Irondale, Alabama, where the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) is headquartered, and in 1996 she initiated the building of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of the Angels monastery in Hanceville, Alabama. Mother Angelica hosted shows on EWTN until she suffered a stroke in 2001. She continues to reside at the monastery in Hanceville.

Colin B. Donovan, STL

Colin Donovan is Vice President for Theology at EWTN. A layman, he has the Licentiate in Sacred Theology, with a specialization in moral theology, from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, where he wrote on the Donation of the Spouses in Marriage. He earned the BTh from the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission, BC, Canada and the BA in Biological Science from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. Prior to coming to EWTN in 1995, he taught Theology at Aquinas College in Nashville.

David M. Gregson, Ph.D.

Dr. Gregson is a member of the theology department at EWTN, working primarily with Online Services. He did his undergraduate studies in English at Penn State University, spent four years in the US Navy, and then studied for his doctorate in philosophy at Temple University in Philadelphia. The topic for his dissertation was St. Augustine’s “Trinitarian Metaphysics of Knowledge.”

Dr. Richard Geraghty

Dr. Richard Geraghty is professor of philosophy at St. Joseph’s House of Studies, the college-level facility of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, at EWTN. Prior to coming to EWTN, Dr. Geraghty taught philosophy for 18 years at the University of Dayton, Providence College, and St. John’s College Seminary. Dr. Geraghty earned his BA in philosophy at the University of Dayton, an MA in English from Ohio State University, and his MA and PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto, where his thesis was entitled "The Object of Moral Philosophy According to St. Thomas Aquinas."

Bill Bilton, Ph.D

Bilton had been with EWTN for more than eight years, beginning his tenure in the Viewer Services Department where he served as Coordinator of Viewer Services. Because of his extensive religious and secular educational background, Dr. Bilton was named the first Dean of the St. Joseph's House of Studies, an undergraduate program serving the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word and located on the Irondale campus of EWTN. In August of 2000, he joined EWTN's Theology Department, where he was a Theology Advisor, answering hundreds of On-Line and written queries about the Catholic Faith, in addition to reviewing programs acquired for airing on EWTN.

Colin Donovan, EWTN's Vice President of Theology, said, "Bill was a valued member of the Theology Department whose meticulous work was greatly appreciated. His colleagues and I will miss him very much."

Bilton received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Journalism from the University of Georgia in 1966. He received a Master of Arts Degree in 1977 from Canisius Jesuit College in Buffalo, NY and a Ph.D. in 1989 from Franklin University in Philadelphia. In 1970 Bilton joined the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, commonly known at the Eudist Fathers and Brothers. During this period, he was for two years in residence at Notre Dame University participating in the university's Religious Leaders Program. He later served for three years as Director of Religious Education for St. John The Baptist Parish in Buffalo, NY and in the same capacity for two years at St. James Parish in Solana, CA. He remained a Eudist Brother until 1984.

Professionally, Bilton held several editorial positions with both Catholic and secular publications. In the 1960s he was News Editor of The Columbus News in Martinez, GA and Entertainment Editor of The Augusta Chronicle-Herald in Augusta, Ga. From 1972-79 Bilton was Director of Public Relations & Development at Cardinal Dougherty High School in Buffalo, NY and from 1980-84, was Executive Editor & Business Manager for The Southern Cross, the weekly newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, CA. He was also a content advisor to the Catholic News Service's weekly religious education supplement, Faith Today.



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