The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

17 March 2007

Sean Hannity, Human Life International, Talk Radio, Catholicism


Hannity Condemned By Conservative Catholic Group

In one of the stranger controversies to hit a talker in recent memory, criticism from a conservative Catholic group has been aimed at radio and television host Sean Hannity.

Contending he's a mere "cultural Catholic", a group called Human Life International has recently been attacking Hannity in a variety of media venues. Led by Reverend Thomas Euteneuer, the flap began after Hannity expressed qualified support for contraception, which is at odds with official church doctrine.

A lifelong Roman Catholic, Hannity attended parochial schools, including a preparatory seminary on Long Island. More recently, he has remained a devout member of the faith.

From the Washington Times, here's some background on the controversy:

Hannity at odds with Catholic doctrine

On Wednesday, The Washington Times became the first newspaper to report on a conflict that has caused consternation among conservative Catholics:

Conservative commentator Sean Hannity's support for contraception and a segment on his TV show has led to criticism of him as a dissenting "cultural Catholic," led by a priest who heads a major pro-life group and who said Mr. Hannity should be denied Communion.

"I have no problem with birth control. It's a good thing," Mr. Hannity has said, prompting the Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, to send a mass e-mail last week calling the Fox News Channel and talk-radio host's repeated public defenses of contraception "just devastating for the faith of others who may be weak or vacillating in this area."

One thing that angered some Catholics was a TV "debate" in which Mr. Hannity lectured Fr. Euteneuer, saying that the priest was not "facing reality" about the need for contraception. Catholic author Amy Welborn was shocked by Mr. Hannity "running all over" a priest who leads a major pro-life organization, and later criticized the popular Fox News host:

[Mr. Hannity] invited [Fr. Euteneuer] on his show, yelled at him, and allowed him very little time to speak without interruption. Which is par for the course. ... That "talk show" environment of those programs is a lose-lose situation, almost all the time.

Among those commenting online about the Hannity-Euteneuer fracas were LifeSite, Catholic World News, and the Catholic Pillow Fight blog. Lisa Fabrizio of the American Spectator also weighs in:

As badly as Fr. Euteneuer's charge of heresy may have stung, Hannity's response was no less scathing. One is not accustomed to hearing a self-professed "devout Catholic" address a member of the clergy -- albeit one who was attempting to correct a grievous moral error -- in such an angry manner. Yet, at no time did Fr. Euteneuer raise his voice or lose his temper.

But not only would Hannity not admit that his stance was tantamount to scandal, he then sought to correct the good father by suggesting: "Actually if you want to get technical here the Catholic Church does support a form of birth control, a natural method of birth control, is that not correct, sir?"

Catholics will say that there is a major difference between what is called "Natural Family Planning" and what they refer to as "artificial contraception." The Catholic doctrine on this is distilled in Pope Paul VI's encyclical, Humanae Vitae:

Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. ... [A] man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Mr. Hannity's Fox News Channel colleague, the Rev. Jonathan Morris, sees this as a teachable moment:

In a future column we can examine the specific issue of artificial methods of contraception (the original debate), and in particular, why just over 75 years ago, every major Christian denomination opposed their use in marital, sexual relations, and why the Catholic Church still does. This may be a chance for Sean to examine the issue in depth.

On his radio show Monday, Mr. Hannity said -- perhaps jokingly -- that if he were excommunicated for his heretical beliefs on contraception, he'd become a Baptist:

"If that makes me unwanted in the Catholic Church, then I'll have to just call my buddy Jerry Falwell, and Thomas Road Baptist Church, here I come. I will accept that taking this position publicly could result in me being thrown out of the Church. If that's the case and they don't want me, that's fine."

But in a telephone interview, the syndicated radio / FOX News Channel host gave your Radio Equalizer a far more complete picture of his feelings about the Catholic Church and contraception:

"I'm a lifelong Catholic. I've raised money for pro- life groups," Hannity said.

"In fact, I dedicated a month to the Terri Schiavo situation in Florida. My record on the sanctity of life cannot be disputed.

"As for denying communion to me, what about the Kennedys, Cuomos and Kerrys of the left who advocate abortions and yet still receive it? Why not take the same vocal stance against them?

Clarifying his position, Hannity continued: "I merely said that contraception was the lesser of two evils, something that's better than having an abortion for non- believers who are inclined to do so anyway."

In our conversation, Hannity stressed that he was taking a pragmatic view, one that recognizes that relatively few, particularly young people, actually follow church doctrine regarding contraception.

Finally, Sean made it clear that even during the worst of the recent scandals regarding morally corrupt priests, he has held closely to his Catholic faith.

From your Radio Equalizer's perspective, the timing of this controversy seems odd. Why would the group go after a well- known (and conservative) Irish- American Catholic, just before St Patrick's day?

By attacking such an unlikely target, is this an attempt to maximize the headline and fundraising potential of the story? If it were to denounce liberal Catholics, would this group get the same press attention?

Given this, one must wonder whether Human Life International is merely engaging in a publicity- generating stunt.

Beyond that, there's an uncomfortable aspect to this controversy, one that moves a bit too closely toward criticizing one's own religious viewpoints. If there were past examples of Hannity denouncing contraception on his show, he might then be fair game.

As far as we know, however, that hasn't been the case. As a result, is this criticism reasonable?

ELSEWHERE: the Irish language is finally back in vogue!

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  • far more relevant to hannity's hypocritical stance regarding his artificial personal allegiance to the catholic faith is his rabid support of the bush crime family's war on iraq, his blind support of invasion of iran in support of israel, and his hatred of the palestinian people, which sets him in direct opposition with the pope himself

    i do not believe any one has the right to support denying him communion, though

    that is between him and God

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 18 March, 2007 11:21  

  • Hannity has very little credibility on understanding Church doctrine. Although he says; I went to seminary (so what), I learned Latin, I spent a month on Terri S. I, I, I, buying I's isn't a buy into heaven neither does it's a my way or noway on Church doctrine buy you anything. Just like the pedophile priests,and other high and low profile Catholics receiving communion when they disregard Catholic teaching in noway makes them right, and that goes for the priests too, it's not like God is being fooled by anyone? Hannity would do well to head to the Baptist Church, and Jerry Falwell, it might make him feel good and smarmy, but still won't make him right.

    By Blogger railrider, at 18 March, 2007 13:18  

  • First, unless his parents possessed the proper passport, stop this "Irish-American" crap when it comes to identifying Hannity. He's just another punk from Long Island; one with no idea of the definition of the word "devout" in relation to his identified faith. He's just another, fairly typical "A&P" (ashes and palms) Catholic, who ignores the Papal Magisterium when the collar becomes uncomfortable.

    Someone needs to slap Hannity in the head and remind him that if you want to hold the RC ticket, you gotta take the Vatican's ride. You can't treat your faith like a bloody buffet.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 19 March, 2007 09:16  

  • It isn't morning if I haven't read a fresh hatefilled rant of Hash's. I knew hash had to get a dig at the Jooosssssss.

    Will we find a KKK robe in hash's closet?

    By Blogger PCD, at 19 March, 2007 11:37  

  • why, pcd

    are the "jooos" above criticism

    hannity's public views have always owed more to "christian zionism" and a certain flavor of evangelical doctrine that relates to this concept

    "judeochristianity" is a myth at whose altar hannity has always worshipped

    why would you attack a person of true faith who simply questions this profound conflict, especially when it's instigated by someone whose opinions are so ridden by a spirit of foolishness

    unless you have an agenda of your own, fudgie

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 19 March, 2007 20:58  

  • i wonder why this guy is even on the radio, anyway

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 19 March, 2007 23:01  

  • Hash,

    So you wonder why Hannity is on the radio?

    Hint: Talkers Magazine says he has over 12,500,000 weekly listeners.

    By Blogger Chromium, at 20 March, 2007 00:04  

  • well, let me rephrase

    what idiot would waste 3 hours time
    every day
    on such gibberish

    ESPECIALLY, any catholic

    oh, and show me

    who RUNS talkers magazine


    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 20 March, 2007 01:07  

  • Hash, look in the mirror. You qualify as an idiot, and you can't help but listen.

    By Blogger PCD, at 20 March, 2007 10:20  

  • fudgie, don't you need to go buy deodorant or something

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 20 March, 2007 10:25  

  • Hash,

    Follow the links on

    Their source is Arbitron.

    By Blogger Chromium, at 20 March, 2007 23:36  

  • you missed the point
    as per usual

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 21 March, 2007 11:21  

  • Hash,

    If your post is directed at a specific person, please start with that person's ID.

    If your post was to me, the one whose post shows up just before yours, I was responding to this from you:

    oh, and show me

    who RUNS talkers magazine


    I gave you the link to uncover who runs Talkers magazine. There is not much more that I care to discuss on this matter.

    By Blogger Chromium, at 21 March, 2007 17:03  

  • of course you don't

    sunlight is the best disinfectant

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 21 March, 2007 23:17  

  • Hash,

    Thanks for the reply to me.

    By the way, have you heard about adding the words "in bed" to the fortunes? So yours would then be
    "Sunlight is the best disinfectant in bed."

    Watch out for the MSG!

    By Blogger Chromium, at 22 March, 2007 10:20  

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