Thursday 29 May 2014

The Convenient Catholicism of Michael Coren

"Is there perhaps duplicity in me, like that of the one who sold our Lord for thirty pieces of silver, who was once called Jesus “friend”, and yet ended up by betraying him"? 
Pope Francis

Michael Coren has always been a controversial figure in Catholic circles. There are those of us who will be Catholic until the day we die, for whom there is little choice because it is part of who we are. It is the air we breathe and the lungs which breathe it. And then there is Michael Coren...

We remember a conversation with an old friend on the porch of a house while we waited for a discussion group to begin. She related some of Michael Coren's history and concluded by saying "I just don't trust the man." She was talking about an incident involving some remarks made by the late Cardinal Ambrozic which were subsequently quoted by Michael Coren.
What had left Ambrozic “scorched” and deeply suspicious about the press was a 1993 Toronto Life profile written by the controversialist journalist Michael Coren. In it, Coren quoted Ambrozic as using the words “frigging” and “bitch” and calling the late Spanish dictator Francisco Franco “a conservative Roman Catholic and not a bad fellow.” The Church circled its wagons around Ambrozic and Coren was deluged with hate mail. Though a faithful Catholic who struggled with printing the remarks, Coren stuck to his guns, saying Ambrozic had been “vulgar” in their talks, and he rebuked his co-faithful for expecting him to “lie.”  Globe and Mail, Sept. 2,2011
No, we did not expect him to lie, but subsequent to this incident and the flurry of controversy surrounding it, he left the Church. This is the source of our own mistrust of Michael Coren. There are many of us, who, though we may be dissatisfied and hurt by some of the things we see happening in the Church, could not conceive of leaving Her. We are in full agreement with Anne Roche Muggeridge's comments in The Desolate City...
Catholicism is not just a religion: it is a country of the heart and of the mind. No matter how resolutely they turn their back on it, people born within it never quite shed their accents. And there are a great many who cannot emigrate, no matter how uninviting living conditions become. We may freeze within it; we would die outside it. "I belong to the race of people," wrote the great Catholic novelist Francois Mauriac, "who, born in Catholicism, realize in earliest manhood that they will never escape from it, never leave it. They were born within it, they are within it, and they will be within it for ever and ever". To this race I belong.
The Church's teachings on homosexual behavior can be a hard thing to hold.  It is especially hard if someone close to you, perhaps a family member or close friend, is affected by this behaviour. The knife edge of expressing love while acknowledging profound disagreement is uncomfortable at best. At worst, it cuts to the very heart of a person. It is easy to hold the Church's teachings on homosexuality if one never has to encounter it in the ones we love, if one never has to look into the face of someone struggling with it. This extraordinary balance between love and truth can only be resolved in the cross. We are not at all surprised that some fall on the side of demonizing and hatred (e.g. Fred Phelps), while others accommodate, hide the truth for fear of causing hurt (e.g. OECTA). The cross is a painful place to be, but it is the only place for someone who tries to be Christian. 

On April 22,2014, Coren broadcast on SUN TV a monologue entitled, "Catholic teachers to march in worldpride". Coren informed us that a Catholic group, Parents as First Educators (PAFE) had organized an online petition to request that OECTA reverse its decision to participate in the world gay pride parade that supports actions and positions that are intrinsically evil (c.f. Persona Humana, Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC]). OECTA, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, a strident union, has recently been denounced by Cardinal Collins as  un-Catholic.

Coren proceeded thus: with reference to PAFE president, Teresa Pierre, "she's also an old friend, I'm very fond of her.... but come on Theresa, I know you, I know this group, and while I really do admire your efforts and your activismya don't speak for that many people who really have much of an influence". 


Coren then showed a very brief, edited video snippet of Pierre. We were not told where, when or before whom this speech was given. However, a bit of research, by Ursula - dear friend of ours - revealed that it is nearly three years old. Of his "friend's" presentation, Coren stated: "I mean, with all due respect, that, that was hardly big time, that was a bit amateurish, wasn't it? You can hear the four or five people clapping in the background" Coren derisively applauded at this point. Watch the entire video; it is neither amateurish nor sparsely received. Coren then addressed the issue of OECTA and conceded that OECTA is un-Catholic. He lamented that his lectures on Catholic moral issues, were not attended by OECTA members. 

We have carefully read PAFE's position papers, and they are in accord with the Church's Magisterium. So why the condescending and insulting critique of PAFE? Coren asked: "Would you, Teresa, I mean, come on now; would you not oppose OECTA marching if everyone in the Parade was fully dressed? I think you would..." What's the point here? 

As a writer and seller of books on Catholicism, surely Coren is aware that a Catholic should oppose any action that promotes what is intrinsically unnatural (c.f. CCC, 2357-59). Perhaps Coren would do better if he answered his own question. However, it is a red herring. This is not about nudity or inappropriate behavior, - or even "same-sex marriage", but the advocacy of the homosexual lifestyle. 

Coren also claimed that the Church is not "enormously accepting" of homosexual persons:

"Safe and accepting schools legislation demands that gay children be; yes, safe and accepted. Yet the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual behavior is - and I'm quoting here - intrinsically disordered and a grave depravity; that's not really enormously accepting, is it? But, Catholics have a right to believe this, and to teach this; of course they do.  Just as gay people have the right to not hear it, and oppose it if they want to. So what are we going to do?  Now, if you want me to stand here and preach intolerance and triumphalism and pretend we all live in the 1950s, you've got the wrong person. You really have. We have to accommodate and we have to coexist..."

Coren's (apparent?) belief in the abolition of the separate Catholic system is not the issue. The issue is Coren's position on homosexuality and whether or not he adheres to the Catechism. As he himself has stated in a column for SUN media:"It’s all rather pertinent to me right now because in the past few months I have changed many of my views on gay issues". Again, as a man who writes and sells books on Catholicism, he should explain himself. What views, and why? 

That homosexual activity can never be approved is universal. 
"This question relates to the natural moral law, the arguments that follow are addressed not only to those who believe in Christ, but to all persons committed to promoting and defending the common good of society." (CDF). 
 "Homosexual orientation is an objective disorder and evokes moral concern"(CDF)
"True love will flow from a correct understanding of the truth of the human person". As such, "true love is the capacity to open oneself to one's neighbour in generosity, and in devotion to the other for the other's good". (Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education).
Sexuality and love must always be seen within the truth of the human person.

Coren's bullying seems self-evident, but his positions on gay issues are - at best - extremely evasive and ambiguous. The CCC contains three concise, short paragraphs; it should be quite easy to to say either yes, or no. 

The CDF released a document in 2003 which provides a summary of Catholic teaching: 
Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts “close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”.(4)
Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts “as a serious depravity... (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”.(5) This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries(6) and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.
Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”.(7) They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity.(8) The homosexual inclination is however “objectively disordered”(9) and homosexual practices are “sins gravely contrary to chastity”.(10)

Now, consider the following from SUN columns: 

"I also argued most gay people do not choose their sexuality and we must appreciate the love and affection that exists between gay men and women." 

"No compromise on truth, but no compromise on love" 

"Just as a gay person has a right to be gay, a Christian has a right to oppose same-sex marriage".

"My position was that while I oppose gay marriage, I believe we must, in a pluralistic world, work out a co-existence of respect between people of goodwill around the issue of sexuality, based on tolerance, empathy and even affection".

"Sexuality and love are complex issues and we should also learn to evolve, understand, empathize and respect"

Coren also stated to Fox News that Catholics may be"faithful", who "don't accept church teaching on sexuality and life issues". 

We, at Toronto Catholic Witness, wish to unequivocally state that this blog completely supports and endorses PAFE. 

The Witness "Team"
Reference: Ryerson Review of Journalism, Cloak and Dagger, Spring 1994


Brian said...

Yes, inconvenient Catholic truths, Mr. Coren will increasingly ignore or marginalize. It may not be too long before Coren will be welcomed on the OECTA professional development day circuit. There, he can expatiate on his "evolution" and "maturity" concerning, not only the "gay" issue, but others as well and then be lionized, by dissident educators, acting like giddy school girls. Coren, works in an industry, which, in the final analysis, is still a form of "entertainment". Ratings are important. The entertainment quotient on his current Arena program is considerably higher than that of his old TV program, at the Christian Network. In today's pop TV climate, to be clearly Catholic, vis-a-vis the homosexual agenda, is simply a no win position in the news (opinion making) industry, even at the conservative (so called) Sun News. Like most "neo-Catholics", Coren is a conservative/liberal hybrid. The liberal progressive side is now coming out of the closet.

Luciano said...

Extremely disappointed in Mr. Coren's condescending on PAFE and Dr. Pierre a truly orthodox organization.
He has really bought into the politically correct homosexualist agenda of the MSM. It must the allure for more money and popularity that affects most people who work in this pseudo news/entertainment industry.
So sad but so predictable.

Lawrence and Susan Fox said...

EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT PIECE THANK YOU! Anyone who condones, supports or encourages actions contrary to God's law have committed the same sin.

Saul stood and witnessed the stoning of St. Stephen, while holding the coats of the people who were stoning the faithful witness to Jesus Christ. Saul agreed in his heart to the murder of Stephen. HE WAS JUST AS GUILTY AS IF HE HAD THROWN a DEATH-DEALING STONE HIMSELF. SO Jesus met him on the road to Damascus and asked him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" Michael Coren's conscience is disordered if he doesn't realize by his positions he accuses himself of homosexuality -- not the physical act, but agreeing with the sin in his heart.

Of course, the reason I know this is from personal experience, so let me not throw the first stone here. Let's pray the man meets Jesus Christ on the Road to Damascus just like I and many others did.

In the meantime, thank you WITNESS for defending PAFE! Susan Fox

Veronica said...

Pope Francis has stated that same gender ideology is demonic (lifesitenews). That should make any real Catholic very concerned.
Coren is identifying the current lack of power of a small group of parents who evidently have little influence. The applause for Dr. Pierre was cut off on the video, you only hear the end of it, the part he chose to ridicule.
But I wouldn't be too worried about Coren, who just likes the sound of his own voice in his job in the "Arena". Dr. Pierre's influence will be felt soon enough.