So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Monday, May 11, 2015

Take the money and run. Michael Coren's odd witness.

Given additional revelations of late, it is a little easier—a lot easier actually—to understand why so many in the Canadian blogosphere and elsewhere have posted some (very) hard hitting pieces about Mr. Coren's behaviour.

Mr. Coren stated that he "felt a hypocrite" (National Post/May 1/15), so he bailed from the Church. A lot of Catholics are rightly upset and angry that Mr. Coren, whilst darkening the corridors of a local Anglican parish for the past year or so, continued to draw an income from speaking and writing engagements for Catholic groups. Groups that employed him, no doubt, assuming he was (still) Catholic.

Non-Catholic working for a Catholic institution—say what?!

Why are people getting so bent out of shape by the fact that a non-practicing Catholic has been working for Catholic organizations? Many non-Catholics and Catholics-in-name-only work successfully as teachers in Catholic schools (Re-read the preceding sentences with just a hint of derision.). A generation of milquetoast Catholic and—no offence intended—pagan teachers has produced a lot of lukewarm witnesses. But, I digress.

(Coren) has taken the money of the Interim, Catholic Insight, The Catholic Register, Legatus, the Toronto Traditional Mass Society, Una Voce Hamilton... whilst not believing what he was saying.
Must be nice to play both sides of the tracks. Taking $$ from Catholic World Report, Catholic Diocese of Calgary... at the same time writing puff pieces about Shaun Proulx.
“Everybody” included the editors at The Catholic Register, Catholic World Report and The Interim. None of them had been told by Coren that he had ceased to consider himself a Roman Catholic. They assumed, as they continued to publish his columns, that he was still a Roman Catholic. In these tolerant days, dissent on “the pelvic issues” is not considered a formal act of schism. Coren had continued to describe himself as “orthodox” and “a Catholic.”
Karl Keating at Catholic Answers
I think a man ought to be whatever he says he is. If he is a bus driver, he shouldn’t hold himself out to be a race car driver. If he has a fat bank account, he shouldn’t hold himself out to be poor. And if he’s something other than a Catholic, he shouldn’t hold himself out to be a Catholic. To claim to be a Catholic when you’re not is to lie. When you lie, you aren’t true to your listeners, to your readers, or to yourself. ... .
I don’t know Michael Coren and haven’t followed his career, but I think I’m safe in saying that it no longer will be a Catholic career.
He no longer will write for the National Catholic Register or Catholic World Report, and EWTN won’t go ahead with a scheduled interview of him. He will be persona non grata at websites where he once was persona grata. He no longer will be praised by beleaguered Catholics for speaking or writing in defense of the faith.
Much of Coren’s audience will vanish. He will be distrusted, because he acted distrustfully. People accept a change in religion more readily than prevarication about a change in religion. They may not like the one, but they really dislike the other.
Kinda sorta Catholic

Mr. Coren—crypto-Anglican until his recent reveal—lined his pockets with Catholic cash while still wearing the Catholic lapel pin. Perhaps he needed the cash to pad his transition? He does have a family to think about! However, living a double life never sends a good message to one's spouse and family.

While there is much content in Mr. Coren's books that accurately represents Catholic teaching, purchasers of his books and consumers of his media work are right to be disappointed that his witness was all talk with too little walk to back it up. In a word, Coren's witness was merely a veneer, at least for the year he pretended to be Catholic while attending Anglican services.

Shell shocked?

We've lost someone whose voice we thought we could rely upon to defend the Faith in a public square hostile to people of faith and Catholics in particular. Michael Coren was a warrior to many people, an individual who stood at the front line of the culture war in Canada.

With the admission of his departure to Anglicanism, his life and career are now delaminating. He has alienated his former supporters because, as Mr. Keating has noted, he has acted distrustfully.

Faith in mouth disease?

Mr. Coren shouldn't expect his new home will accept the residual Catholicism that will likely slip out of his mouth from time to time. Recall, for a moment, that Mr. Coren penned the best seller Why Catholics are Right and a later book The Future of Catholicism. A 2012 advertisement for the first book includes the following descriptor no doubt intended to attract the interest of a specific target market.
A practicing Catholic defends the (F)aith and offers a passionate response to current anti-Catholic opinion (Amazon, 2012).
Deprived of any Catholic-minded Anglicans, it is difficult to imagine that the Anglican Church of Canada will have need of a witness invested in Roman favoured and Catholic flavoured apologetics. Those who might have been sympathetic to his work, i.e., small 'c' catholics, have long since fled the Anglican Communion. Coren will likely have to leave his residual Catholicism behind if he hopes to fit in. Given his rejection of Catholic teaching on human sexuality, he'll probably fit into his comfy new Anglican pew quite nicely.

Champion of Relativism

Coren's beef with Catholicism appears to be the Church's teaching regarding human sexuality. He should re-read the Catechism for its expression of authentic love and compassion and return quickly to home sweet Rome. Otherwise, to appease his new hosts he should with all due haste surrender other Catholic teachings he has previous defended.

One such teaching that might attract a look of disapproval from an Anglican priestess might be the following that Mr. Coren defended with verve:
The idea that the Church could contradict Scripture and ordain women as priests, for example — remember, the prime role of a Catholic priest is to represent Christ at the Mass — would simply mean the Catholic Church was no longer the Catholic Church. This is not change but destruction.—Coren. National Post, November 12, 2013. Excerpted from The Future of Catholicism.
Hot on the heels of the citation above comes another paragraph from the same article:
Catholic teaching is not the same as a dinner party opinion or a water-cooler suggestion, and just because it might be difficult to accept does not mean it is impossible to justify or vital to believe. Change, then, is often a euphemism for compromise, if not downright surrender.ibid.
Surely Coren, author of the above passages, has not missed the irony in his decision to change religions. His abandonment of Catholicism is due in large part to his rejection of the Church's teaching on human sexuality, teaching he formerly defended with apparent zeal. If there's one thing Michael Coren's new hosts are likely to appreciate is his ability to compromise. Certainly, his recent actions demonstrate well his ability to compromise his credibility.
Tom Hoopes at Aleteia writes
Coren, I can only guess, is tempted by the sin that every political or religious writer is tempted by — the sin of writing to increase something in my life (money, fame, social media shares, pride) instead of writing to increase something in my reader’s life (understanding, love, conviction, joy).
The sin is both more universal and more banal in the blogosphere than it was in 14th-century Florence.
Ironically, Coren and Dreher both started out as spirited defenders of the truths of the Catholic Church — and ended up inadvertently championing relativism.
Contradiction, hypocrisy,... surrender to the zeitgeist?

If Mr. Coren hopes to find solace in his new Anglican home, does he have any other choice but to severe his tenuous connection to orthodoxy and embrace relativism like so many other drab thinkers of this day and age? Most likely.

It's probably safe to say that Michael Coren will continue to write books. Will his next work be an apology, i.e., a defence of his migration to liberal Anglicanism? Probably.

Mr. Coren is an intelligent fellow. His compass, however, currently points somewhere other than true north. One might hope that at some point sooner than later reason will kick in to prod him to correct the course he seems to have charted using his confused feelings.

The door to the confessional is open.

Pray for Michael Coren.

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.