Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 25, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).
For the second time in less than two years, EWTN’s affiliate in Poland has had its YouTube channel suspended, reported Father Piotr Wiśniowski, general director of EWTN Poland.
Without any warning or explanation, on Oct. 22 YouTube shut down the Catholic programming channel, which features a live broadcast from the adoration chapel in Niepokalanów Monastery in Teresin, Poland, which was founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe. Almost one million viewers visit the channel each month for what is known as the world’s most popular televised eucharistic adoration.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the chapel was a lifeline to the faith for those who could not leave their homes to go to Mass. Apart from the adoration chapel, the content of the channel is not unlike EWTN’s English-language programming. There is Catholic news along with 4,500 videos of devotional content, movies, lectures, and homilies.
To Wiśniowski, the move smacked of censorship.
“I am disappointed by the politics of YouTube, which, after all, was born in a country for which freedom of speech and respect for dissenting views is a benchmark for the growth of prosperity and security of its citizens,” the priest wrote in a statement issued to the media.
The first time it happened, on April 10, 2021, the channel was notified that it was suspended for “violation of community rules.” The channel was restored after 24 hours and many complaints from loyal users.
After it happened again last Saturday, Wiśniowski and the staff at EWTN Poland appealed to get the channel started up again and were told confusing and contradictory reasons for the shutdown.
At one point there were told the channel was suspended because of a “violation of community rules”; then that there was a “takeover [by a third party] of a Google account that was sending SPAM”; and then they were told that there had been a “takeover of the YouTube channel.”
“What rules of the YouTube community are violated by, for example, the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from Niepokalanów?” the priest asked.
“I kindly ask all Catholic circles, especially media circles, to stand in solidarity with our TV EWTN Poland, to support it spiritually, and to express their dissatisfaction with the situation,” he wrote.
Three and a half days later, after much prayer and many complaints from viewers directed to YouTube’s parent company, Google, the channel was restored. Still, Wiśniowski was left none the wiser for the reason why the channel was shut down in the first place.
When asked if the company offered any explanation, he told CNA: “No. Simply no. Never.”