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If... you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked man from his way, he (the wicked man) shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. (Ezekiel 33:8)
In my posting of Thursday past, entitled Michael Coren Complicit In Destruction Of Souls Who Practice Homosexuality Part 1, I lodged a serious complaint against Michael Coren, saying he
is contributing to the corruption of our culture by his subtle advocacy on behalf of the "gay" lifestyle (which is based, almost exclusively, on homosexual acts).
I [used to] follow Michael Coren on Twitter and, generally speaking, try to read all his columns, even some of his books that catch my fancy. I used to watch his Sun News program, The Arena, without fail, for the longest time but over the last couple of years I have backed off television in general big time. Coren’s style and intensity is engaging—even irresistible—for some but for others quite rude and unbearable. Let’s face it, Coren has strong opinions and he’s not afraid to speak them (I never held that against him). But because of that, some love him and some hate him. In fact, his most severe critics seem to be quite uniform in characterizing him as a “hater.” I would aver that they very much misunderstand him.
As perhaps Canada’s foremost media culture warrior, he has strong Christian beliefs and emphases. For many traditional minded Christians he’s a welcome relief from the mainstream, liberal leaning media, as is much of the Sun News programming in general. He’s particularly impressive in the area of pro-life opinion and advocacy and that alone puts him light years ahead of any other Canadian broadcaster with a significant reach to the public.
In my previous posting I summed up my concern:
To put it plainly, I have never heard him say, unambiguously, in his books or on air, that he personally believes that the practice of homosexual acts is intrinsically wrong, a moral evil precisely, and that the continued practice of such acts of grave depravity could well constitute grave sin and threaten the eternal soul of the individual involved. My opinion, at this point, is that he really doesn't believe such an "offensive" notion.
My recent exchange on Twitter with Michael Coren precipitated last week’s blog posting and I believe that exchange put a fine point to my concerns. As a result of my posting, Coren blocked me from following him on Twitter. OK, no biggie.
Oops.. 1st time ever blocked on Twitter! according to @michaelcoren I'm a crazy religious fanatic b/c I posted this: http://t.co/qK74W7VVMY
— Contra|Diction (@Contra1diction) February 19, 2014
Furthermore some other conversations which appear in his Twitterfeed greatly reinforce my concerns, raising even more questions. Of course it’s difficult to draw too many conclusions from a Twitterfeed outburst but nevertheless patterns of thinking clearly emerge from such interactions. I’ve since found it interesting to follow Coren’s conversations on Twitter. Give it a go and see what you think. Is he being loving and compassionate?
But am I saying that Michael Coren must always preach fire and brimstone to his audience on the subject of homosexual acts? Not exactly, because, as Coren himself often reminds us, nuance is vital. However, I aim to answer that question more precisely in my comments which follow.
1. First, a definition, because some readers did not like my choice of the word “complicit.” I used the word in the more common and general everyday sense of contributing to a certain outcome. The outcome under discussion is the loss of souls, a dire and dreadful fate with which nobody should ever wish to be associated. I have levelled the same charge against certain Bishops and Priests as well as other higher profile Catholics.
- From: The Free Dictionary
Associated with or participating in a questionable act or a crime; having complicity: newspapers complicit with the propaganda arm of a dictatorship.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
“The recent attacks on the banks, in which politicians on both sides are complicit, hardly seem warranted by the bare facts.”
Perhaps these protesting individuals were thinking more in terms of the legal definition used by courts where “the law requires that in order to be found guilty [of complicity] one must have the intent to commit the crime itself, not simply to assist another person.”
Since Coren himself is no stranger to controversy and controversial statements, I beg from readers their similar patience. Furthermore, I would hazard that objections raised to such words as “complicit” may simply be a deflection from the larger subject of how, and if, any of us can contribute to the destruction of the souls of others. Closely related is the even more basic issue of the reluctance of very many, including clergy, to discuss at all the subject of losing one’s soul, i.e. damnation, Hell, etc., and the associated traditional teaching of Christianity.
2. Secondly, my charge against Michael Coren has to do strictly with the role—minor or major—he plays in sustaining the practice of depraved acts by homosexuals and the resultant judgment of God upon those souls. The immediate context here, I remind readers, is his recent TV show, The Arena, and his recent column for The Sun newspaper chain. By failing to sound a clear warning of the spiritual dangers of this behaviour in the high profile public platform granted to him by God, he contributes to their ultimate destruction, as reinforced in commonly accepted quotes regarding complicity in evil, such as:
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
“The Christian community bears the greatest responsibility for the deaths of these children…Silence is complicity. And children are paying for our silence with their lives.”
Jonathon Van Maren, Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform
"As for German complicity, it had this to say: We declare that, through omission and silence we have, before the God of mercy, become co-responsible for the outrage committed against the Jews by people of our nation.”
3. Thirdly, I do not claim that Michael Coren sets out purposely to hurt anyone, least of all homosexuals. Since, in the general sense, complicity requires only that one’s actions [or lack thereof] contributed to a certain outcome, he might very well be convinced of the rightness of his approach and actions while at the same time being completely wrong due to human limitation or weakness. However, failings stemming from stubbornness, pride, etc. are actual sins and these might be involved in his actions but I make no judgement whatsoever in that regard.
4. Nor does Coren deserve to be singled out like this on the basis of the uniqueness of his views as expressed in recent days. Except for the fact that he is an extremely influential media personality impacting the thinking and judgment of tens of thousands of Canadians and Americans on a daily basis, there would hardly be any point in taking aim at him. As I stated previously, he has a quite considerable base of followers who see his broadcasting and journalism as a powerful antidote to much of the progressivist, liberal thought of the day and who count him as one of Canada’s top “culture warriors.” However, many in this group of “conservatives” are also troubled by what they perceive as Coren’s all-too-apparent bias (in the name of nuance) on the subject at hand.
But Mr. Coren is a Catholic
It is because of that very special qualification that I made the serious charge against him that I did. Since the salvation of souls has always been the supreme law of the Church, it means that the highest goal of the Catholic, in his or her duty to glorify God, is to win souls to Christ from a life of sin.
Upon all the laity, therefore, rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all men of each epoch and in every land. Consequently, may every opportunity be given them so that, according to their abilities and the needs of the times, they may zealously participate in the saving work of the Church.
Lumen Gentium no. 33d
My understanding is that this high calling of the Catholic is independent of circumstances, time, rank or employment position. In short, it always applies. The eternal welfare of our neighbour is of preeminence, more especially if we are addressing in our conversation dangerous or immoral behaviours. So why not introduce the subject, even if only in subtle terms? Coren appreciates nuance. But why must his nuance include the language of the homosexual lobby? As long as Coren downplays the welfare of souls he is actually doing these hurting souls a great disservice.
On any moral issue especially, Catholics have recourse to the supreme wisdom of Church teaching and are not forced to hammer out an understanding of the teaching themselves, unlike their non-Catholic Christian friends who have a coarser understanding of homosexuality, although on the basics some of them are spot on. Catholics, then, must inform themselves accordingly and, when in conversation about a particular issue, they must be careful to present the truth in its fullness, not adjusting it or re-molding it to their liking. Of course one must carefully make judgments about how and when to present a truth, or part of a truth, but the Catholic must take special care to never misrepresent the truth, even (maybe especially) by omission. I believe, in the context of homosexuality and specifically in this particular episode of The Arena and his related column, Coren almost constantly makes his own adjustments by purposely avoiding the full Catholic truth on the subject, to the detriment of souls caught in the grip of this evil behaviour.
His ambiguous remarks in relation to homosexuals border on scandalous from a Catholic point of view, in my opinion. They may be compared somewhat, in terms of influence, to public comments made by other very public and well known Christian leaders, including clerics and pastors, and thus they deserve extra scrutiny. Coren’s popularity and reputation for Catholic orthodoxy in his writings as well as in frequent speaking tours also make him a justifiable target of criticism. Could he not have noted just once in his TV show remarks and in his column his personal opposition to homosexual acts and the danger they pose to the souls involved? As a superb communicator I’m sure he could have crafted an altogether compassionate, yet truthful, summary in probably 50 words or so, for essential eternal context. Why did he not? Could it possibly be that he is conflicted on the subject or somehow believes compassion and the truth are at odds with one another?
Having said all this I find it more than a little strange to report that in two of his latest books Coren provides a wonderful defense of Catholic teaching on the subject of marriage, homosexuality and same sex marriage. I have seen no evidence whatsoever of compromise or of ambiguity. In fact his treatment of these subjects is so orthodox that when reading his excellent treatises I wonder if there might not be two Michael Corens in media insofar as homosexuality is concerned. His free use—although often quoting others—of terms such as “sodomite”, “enemies of nature”, “vices”, “vile”, while quoting the Catechism at length in unapologetic terms, seems quite out of character with The Arena’s Michael Coren or the Michael Coren who tweets. Nowhere in his books does he ever touch on his latest arguments against “gay insults” by the fundamentalist haters and the pejorative and clinical language of fanatics and zealots. Playing both sides of the fence maybe? Or is there a ghostwriter lurking in the shadows somewhere? I’ll leave that story—if there is one—to somebody else.
How then are we to explain his one-sided rants on TV and in the newspaper which amount to, practically, an apologetic for warming up to homosexual behaviour? I find the disconnect to be inexplicable. Is it because he judges the readers of his books as such a fundamentally different audience than his TV talk show audience that he can afford a complete paradigm shift on the exact same subject? Or is he simply trying to cultivate (through controversy) yet protect his TV persona in order to secure his future as a broadcaster, while at the same time maintaining his orthodox Catholic bona fides?
Again, considering the condition and needs of the souls tuning in to his broadcasts and reading his recent column, it is an insufferable contrast.
Relevant passages from the Catechism
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They 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.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
b. 1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:
- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
- by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
- by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
- by protecting evil-doers.
c. Relevant also is Section V. The Proliferation Of Evil from which #1868 above is drawn.
A separate posting will follow on the actual transcript of remarks made during the segment of The Arena and in the related Sun newspaper column. I hope to further show in that posting that Coren’s careless one-sided treatment of homosexual behaviour was detrimental to the salvation of souls caught up in that sinful practice. In the meanwhile, be sure to click through on the links and review your homework.