The cautionary tale of the capricious Michael Coren

How did a former high-profile Catholic apologist and author become a liberal Anglican deacon and the proud bearer of the LGBT flag?

(Images:alchetron.com)

You might remember the name Michael Coren, the British-born Canadian journalist who used to write for some Catholic publications, including Catholic World Report. I interviewed him a time or two on the Catholic Answers Live radio show. The man had something to say and, if a bit abrasively, he said it well.

Years prior, I used to read his column in the Canadian pro-life newspaper The Interim, and caught him once in a while on CFRB radio in Toronto. I was, frankly, impressed by his willingness to debate third-rail issues like abortion in the fulsomely left-wing Canadian media sphere.

There was one odd thing. In 1993, he did a sit-down interview for Toronto Life magazine with Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, the now deceased archbishop of Toronto. Coren obviously gained His Eminence’s trust—the same man who gave Coren a media award for service to the Church the year before—and sat down with him under friendly pretenses. It was a set-up, and Ambrozic got a shellacking. Coren seemed to take umbrage when the unguarded (and un-media savvy) prelate said some unsavory-sounding things, including calling gays in Toronto “poor devils.”

Otherwise, his reputation was as a thinking man’s defender of Christianity. He had joined the Catholic Church in the 80s, but left in the 90s for evangelicalism, citing (in this 2015 interview) his interview with Cardinal Ambrozic and saying, “I just wanted something simpler, a relationship rather than a religion.” His on-air articulate bulldog persona and strong prose style (he wrote biographies of C.S. Lewis, H.G. Wells, and J.R.R. Tolkien) made him a staple as a public speaker and newspaper columnist in Canada.

Then he came back to the Catholic Church, and eventually wrote books like Why Catholics Are Right (2012). I reached out to him to be a guest on the Catholic Answers show to talk about it, flattered that he cited my anti-contraception book. Despite Coren’s hubris-tainted title, I enjoyed his book very much and told him so. Endorsers such as Archbishop Charles Chaput also gave it high accolades, all well deserved. And because of his ability to parry difficult callers on live radio and his seeming grasp of Catholic theology, we invited him back.

Then, the other shoe dropped.

In a 2014 Toronto Sun column, he announced his change of heart regarding “gay issues,” having “been parachuted into clouds of new realization,” and so on. Beyond that it was rather vague. Very surprised, I called him and left a message. Nothing back.

He shot off another column in which he labeled the community he fled “the Church of Nasty,” and went on a tear against his Romanist enemies, real and imagined. Catholics were now “cruel” “ultra-conservative fundamentalists” or otherwise “the far right” and he’s the victim of “hate” now that he’s been “enlightened.” You get the drift.

At this point the management of Catholic Answers and EWTN decided, rightly, to pull his books off the shelves and to ixnay any further appearances on the show.

When some Catholics began posting intemperate things about him for leaving the Church, I left him a voice message expressing regret at the ugly ganging-up he was getting, and that if he ever wanted to talk, he could give me a call. No reply. I followed up with a more detailed email explaining the situation as sympathetically as I could, although agreeing with the decision. Again, no reply.

Fast forward to the day a friend who works in Canadian media let me know sardonically that “our mutual buddy” had made mention of me in his new pro-gay book, Epiphany: A Christian’s Change of Heart & Mind Over Same-Sex Marriage. Huh? Sure enough, Coren had indeed replied to my email: by publishing it in his book as proof of how mean those Catholics were to him.

After retrieving my jaw from the floor, I felt what most of my colleagues in Catholic media felt toward him: not anger, but disorientation as to why this happened, and sadness. Another page from our bulging No Good Deed Goes Unpunished file.

What kind of person publishes an obviously personal email (which I stand by) in a book? It’s rich, too, in light of his insistence to CWR editor Carl E. Olson that their private conversation must remain private. Of course.

Coren’s abandonment (the first one, I mean) of Catholicism for the “read your Bible” Protestantism of the Canadian televangelism show “100 Huntley Street” lasted a decade or so before the ol’ religion door spun round again, and he came back to the Catholic Church—reinvented as an uber-apologist and putting out vehemently pro-Catholic material: defending all the hard sayings in his signature take-no-prisoners style. My friendly interactions with him were during his pro-papal period.

Then, like a bit of mauve glitter sparkle tossed in the wind, he bolted to…liberal Anglicanism. People leave the Catholic Church for all sorts of reasons. In this case, for at least a year c. 2014-2015, Coren pretended to belong to the same Church as St. Thomas More, took money from conference organizers, and got on radio shows as a Catholic apologist, all the while attending services in Toronto in the church founded by Henry VIII.

This is called lying. Best line from his Church of Nasty screed: “I’m boringly honest and have never defrauded anyone.” This is called chutzpah.

His religion hopping involved reversals on several basic issues, from abortion (he’s now proudly pro-choice) to Islam. Yes, the same author of Hatred: Islam’s War on Christianity can go on to write an article in which he rails against Canada’s “Islamophobia industry.”

There appears to have been an economic motive. His former employer, the Sun News Network, which carried his TV show, was faltering by 2014. It went under in February, 2015—gosh, around the time Coren issued his pro-gay epistles. Seeing the writing on the wall, he attempted to join the upstart conservative Rebel News platform, founded by another ex-Sun News host, Ezra Levant.

Coren lasted a week there. When, inter alia, he penned a National Post article attacking parents who objected to the explicit sex-ed curriculum being pushed on school children by the lesbian then-Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, the canny Levant saw the lack of alignment, and let him go.

A cynical interpretation would say that with no other conservative media gigs left in Canada, a jobless Coren ran mea culpas up the flagpole, hoping to snag work at a place like the state-owned Canadian Broadcasting Company (which worked, albeit not permanently) while putting maximum distance between himself and his former defenses of the natural moral law on sexuality.

This past October, Coren announced, “In Christ’s Church Cathedral in Hamilton, the mother church of the Anglican diocese of Niagara, Bishop Susan Bell laid hands on me, and through her episcopal authority ordained me into holy orders.” The only comparable moment, he insisted, was getting married 32 years prior. So, rebranded as Anglicanism’s answer to Father James Martin, SJ, “Rev. Michael Coren” swapped his pink promotional-photo tie for a Roman collar to indulge an indisputable preoccupation with homosexuality. Understandably, not all Anglicans in Canada are tickled (pink or otherwise) by his latest dupe.

Yes, for the new Anglican thought leader, the Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name became The Thing That Can’t Shut Up About Itself. Why the incessant harping about homophobia? Why decorate your Twitter profile with a glowing blurb from homosexual atheist and actor Stephen Fry? Why describe yourself as “very straight” while waxing enthusiastic about #LGBTQIA issues? (You’re not alone if you have no idea what all that stands for.)

If the past is the best predictor of the future, it’s only fitting that the next crowd to approach when the Anglican thing doesn’t pan out is either sedevacantists or atheists. The best outcome of all—although humanly unlikely—would be to stop with the arrant nonsense and return home to Rome. The good news, which ups the chances? God specializes in prodigal sons.

More good news: If Michael Coren ever wants to refute his new books, all he has to do is read his old ones. They’re very good.


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About Patrick Coffin 13 Articles
Patrick Coffin is a host, author, and speaker at patrickcoffin.mediaand the creator of www.coffinnation.com.

41 Comments

    • Coren tore strips off of many many of his guests. As a Catholic here in Toronto, it use to embarrass me. I never quoted him, his stuff really isn’t scholarly enough anyway. Am glad he is gone, we need fewer nasty people, and unfortunately, he is indeed very ‘nasty. (narcissistic>?.. he doesn’t like to be corrected). Thanks, Patrick for a very well written article, which clarifies this man’s adventures. HAs anyone asked him to pay back monies he received as a newly non-Catholic for his ‘Catholic’ talks? .. there is no doubt about the matter, he admitted it for example on the Steve Paikin show.

    • Mrs. Cracker, I said the same thing to myself while reading the article, what a deeply troubled soul. A frind of mine who never had a father due to divorce at a young age did the exact same thing 20 years ago. He was a deeply religious Methodist and then dropped it 100% because he thought he found love and belonging in the LGBTQ community. Last year he told me he was moving as across the county as far away as possible because that same community because he felt stabbed in the back after he divorced his male partner. My friend is a professional and makes tons of money and his partner who did occassional work got everything. I will pray for them both.

  1. Mr Coffin knows Mr Coren better than me, that is for sure, but in the times I heard him he came across as an opportunist. Getting on whichever wagon was going to serve his purpose and God was only something that was a part of it. Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from other people? Seems so. Continually demeaning, bullying and belittling others. Not always but now that he is pro sodomy he calls anyone who isn’t homophobic and a bigot. Exploiting others to achieve personal gain. Yup. He exploited his relationship with Mr Coffin.
    Canadian broadcaster Daniel Richler observed that Coren loves scandal, but hates having it come his way.
    Pray for his family he have to be in his mist and live with this narcissist.
    P.S. have always enjoyed Mr Coffin’s quick wit and style. Miss him on Catholic Answers.

    • Well said. The man is indeed an opportunistic scoundrel. When he jumps the pews back into Catholicism (as he perceives it) or into another religion he will write yet another book about it.

      He is not a rare bird, though; serial conversion stories are a fashion at present, and (Newark) hath no fury like a man who has leapt at least three churches and furiously denounces everyone in his latest for not agreeing to his moods and whims.

  2. Thank you Patrick. I sent your article to my e-mail list with the following comments:
    Yes, yes, based on my contact with Coren, reading his books, watching his show, and reading about his changes, i can say he is a disturbed con man.  Most probably his next escaped is to become a Muslim imam — a “trophy” for Islam.  What a &%$#=-up this guy is!

    People should stay away from him.

  3. This reminds me of a Catholic writer whose genius I used to admire many years ago, but now that writer goes way-y-y beyond differences Catholics have with Jews and attempts to prove that Jews are a primary cause of all that has gone wrong in The West. E. Michael Jones has done at least one interview with Sven Longshanks (Google that name) for the sort of alt-right audience we used to call, without exaggeration, White Supremacist or neo-NAZI. Check it out for yourself, I provide the link at the end of this comment.

    Yet Patrick Coffin has had E. Michael Jones on as a guest commentator for episodes 88, 124, 130, and 147 of his program (which may be found on YouTube). No, during those episodes of Patrick Coffin’s program E. Michael Jones is not going out of his way to promote hatred and distrust of Jews, but E. Michael Jones’ reputation is well-known and Patrick Coffin has some responsibility to avoid giving public validation of E. Michael Jones which will likely be taken by many as approval of his extreme anti-Semitic hate-mongering.

    Here is that link I promised above:
    https://www.radioalbion.com/2016/07/aryan-insights-e-michael-jones-jewish.html

    • Jones will talk to anyone, left, right, whatever. He’s brought a ton of young men closer to the Catholic Church by his willingness to appear on dissident outlets. If only our priests and bishops had such cottage and evangelical zeal!

      As for you, Mr Mitchell, how about you try sending Jones your own detailed rebuttal of his arguments? I expect he’d be pleased to engage with you. This would be far preferable to your current role as Dreary Internet Scold.

      • Whatever E. Michael Jones has brought a ton of young men closer to, it smells more of burning sulphur than sweet incense. E. Michael Jones is indefensible from any true Catholic perspective. He talks to anyone he might convince to embrace his insane and extreme bigotries, but when he talks with white supremacists and neo-NAZIs it is clear that we are hearing a true meeting of minds, a profound harmony of souls engaged in dragging the naive off to everlasting Hellfire. Since I am not a priest I do not directly engage the devils in dialogue while attempting to exorcise them, all I can do is warn others to keep their distance from such an enthusiastic servant of Satan.

    • James reminds me of the Trump despisers who can’t help themselves — it’s a known syndrome — they make every single thing in the universe about how orange and evil President Trump is, no matter the context in com boxed. This article is about Michael Coren’s troubled pattern of betrayal and flip-flopping, nothing else. If I had to interview only guests who have only appeared on shows I approve of, or said/wrote only things in the past that I agree with, friend, I would have no show whatsoever.

    • If Dr. E. Michael Jones is as disreputable as Mr. Mitchell insists he is, surely he must, at least occasionally, write disreputable things. Let Mr. Mitchell quote him- if he dares. The levelling of baseless, reputation-destroying charges is known as calumny, Mr. Mitchell. Instead, Mr. Mitchell informs us that Jones has been interviewed by one Sven Longshanks. Perhaps Mr. Mitchell can explain to his reader why Dr. Jones should be judged not by what he says but by whom he says it to?
      Because Mr. Mitchell provides zero evidence of Dr. Jones’ “extreme anti-Semitic hate-mongering”, his calumny represents only a stalking of Mr. Coffin in the hopes that Coffin will pull a Michael Coren and ditch the Gospel (with respect to Jones) in favour of succumbing to that irrationality known as “fear of the world”.

      • E. Michael Jone’s worst is not so much in print as in audio rants and interviews which anyone may easily find online, but I’d like to direct you to one of the worst ones still available. You may find the link to the audio close to the bottom of this web page -https://www.radioalbion.com/2016/07/aryan-insights-e-michael-jones-jewish.html

    • Thank you for your excellent comment, brother James! I, too, have had my reservations lately about the integrity of the Catholicism and character of Mr. Patrick Coffin. All great at first but then I felt something was weird about some of his work. Yeah, we all wobble here and there in our Catholic journey and sometimes “another one bites the dust” (like the song from Queen), which is why we have the Sacrament of Confession and all the True Teachings of the Church. Certainly, Real Catholics must expose their failings to God’s Burning Light and don’t hide them behind very elaborate intellectualism, self-justifying verbiage, quick wit, etc. Is Mr. Coffin exposing Mr. Coren to de-expose and legitimize himself? I don’t know for certain. Caution is in order. Yellow alert.

      It is our growing determination for holiness/integrity in God’s Grace from total marshmallow to holy Pitbull that puts us into God’s merciful hands, not the sometimes mediocre results of our efforts. It is an absolutely, totally different thing altogether to sing to the Lord and then try at the same time to “dance with wolves”, not as in the Kevin Costner great movie, but as in dancing with satanic wolves. Some do it in a crass, slimy, opportunistic, wishy-washy, loosey-goosey, cartoonish way like Michael Coren. Others take the “more refined”, more slithering, “more Catholic-ish” way (insert Pope Francis picture here) to “gently” prod us (kicks, elbows and hard SLAPS always an option) into the Dark Side (the real one not Star Wars’) with a mixture of solid Truth and gooey, sticky, seductive little oopsie-doopsies.

      All this to fake “flexibility”, “mercy” and “open mindedness” against that pesty rigidity of the absolute demands of Authentic Truth. Example: this Catholic author I read a while ago included “social activists” in the very same sentence and with the very same praise as Saints and Martyrs. Oopsie-doopsie! [no apology was ever issued by him] It’s all part of the “irresistible” Homosexual Core Seduction of Forced-Good-And-Evil-As-One infiltrating everything as the “most fabulous” snake. It is ultimate murder preceded by a “brotherly” kiss on the cheek. Remember that?

        • Then refute the ADL’s claims about E. Michael Jones. Or the Catholic Defence League’s condemnation of E. Michael Jones. It should be easy if he isn’t what they say he is.

          • Carl E. Olson – – You write:
            “How about taking this up somewhere else since it has nothing to do with the topic at hand?”

            Patrick Coffin is probably completely right about Michael Coren.

            But when a professional lay Catholic like Patrick Coffin whose own work has sometimes been a cause for great scandal (and he has continued in this scandalous public behavior in spite of the fact that it has been brought to his attention before by others) then your choice of writers for a piece on Michael Coren’s scandalous behavior becomes very much a part of the “topic at hand”.

        • I’ll admit that Andrew opened himself up to your attack on this one by using the ADL for support of his argument against E. Michael Jones. Nonetheless, the truth that E. Michael Jones goes way beyond real and serious differences Catholics have with Jews into fever-dream paranoia about Jews being behind most evils afflicting The West remains. If Patrick Coffin is still unaware of this after being warned repeatedly by others over time then it can only be due to irresponsible laziness in researching the backgrounds of those he interviews or something much, much worse.

  4. “The love that dares no speak it’s name”? When I was growing up in the 50s it was “the sin that dares not…..” it is and always will be the sin that condemns more souls to hell than any other. Satan gains whenever someone tries to justify or apologize for perversion

  5. EWTN has a long history of giving air time to anyone willing to recite orthodox-sounding spiels on t.v. — only to be embarrassed when the individual later turns out to be a fraud or a scumbag. They could do a better job screening for character.

    • “Anyone”? Really? In my experience, as someone who has been on EWTN several times, you cannot simply wander onto the set. There is a process. Could it be better? I don’t know.

      And how does the percentage of orthodox-spouting-folks-turned-frauds-and-scumbags compare with the percentage of frauds-and-scumbags among other groups? The populace at large?

      And, really, how does one account for the mysteries of the human heart and the often strange decisions made by people?

      • Coren’s rhetoric was overblown when he was Catholic. It’s overblown now. He likes being the center of attention. His allegiances change—his schtik doesn’t.

    • “G. Poulin,” stop digging, brother. “Long history”? Come, come. Every single organization in history (from police departments to day care centers to the priesthood to EWTN to Exxon) has brought in collaborators or employees who end up exposed as bad apples. The worst of these tend to be excellent liars. Welcome to the fallen world where character can’t always be adequately screened for. I notice you have no comment on the article.

    • I too have been on EWTN radio three times since the fall. They are scrupulous as to who they put on. And so is their print journalism. G Poulin: You have no idea what you’re talking about. So stop talking.

  6. What a great example he gives us for working out our salvation in “fear and trembling”. I’m sad for you, Patrick, to be dismissed, betrayed, in such a way. The open door you sincerely offered, slammed in your face, reveals his true character. I haven’t decided if his books will come off my shelves, they may be an excellent reminder of how quick and easy it is to be tempted into …Heresy!

  7. Coren is also now pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia. He even goes beyond the Anglican Church of Canada’s teachings in regard to these issues.

    Despite his constant claim to being more kind and less judgemental blah, blah, blah. He actually hasn’t changed. He is just as pretty and goading as he was when he was a conservative.

    Even his schtick is the same: Poke your opponent right in the eye, publish the most extreme and vile responses, portray yourself as a victim/martyr. He did this as a Catholic/conservative and now he does it as liberal (or whatever he is). It’s a very cheap way to garner “clicks” and create a base of support. It also reveals how facile his writing is. Wether as a conservative or liberal his writing can never go beyond party talking points. He seems incapable of deep nuanced thought. He’s essentially a parrot for whatever cause he’s championing.

    In my opinion there is something very wrong with him. I wasn’t a fan when he was a conservative, back then I thought he was just a curmudgeon. Now, I think he is a person that lacks any sense of integrity. He is just as nasty as he used to be. He hasn’t changed, the only thing he’s done is switched tribes.

    He thrives on attention. It’s best to ignore him.

    PS: he’s a good warning for Catholics. Don’t throw your support behind someone just because he echoes our beliefs. Coren was always a self-promoter, it’s too bad so many Catholics got sucked in by him.

  8. For Christians, there is always the temptation to take the popular, or lucrative, or safe path. How many saints could have bailed when things got ugly? The trial is real in every generation. God help us.

  9. This is a very common story with people who knew Coren back then. He too cut me out of this life after he went to the Anglicans. And I have been appalled at his anti-Catholicism, which he denies. Read his articles in the Star, Globe and Maclean’s and see whether I’m right. I can understand someone leaving but turning around and tearing into the Church he called home. I wrote a glowing review of Why Catholics Are Right when I was the religion reporter at the National Post. It was good but I wish I could undo it. I feel like I was taken.
    https://www.catholicregister.org/opinion/columnists/item/30325-charles-lewis-faith-has-its-place-in-federal-election

    • He duped a lot of people and managed to make a pretty good living off of it. We were going to get him to speak at our church but his fee was too steep. I’m glad now that it never came to pass. He tears into the Church like a jilted, immature child would rip into his parents who demanded obedience as he rebelled.

  10. By the way: I also wanted to wish Michael well after he left the Catholic Church. But he would have none of it. He and his wife and my wife had dinner together several times and Micahel and I were (I thought) friends. Now he’s a minister. And yet he continues to attack the his former church. Is that really the behaviour of a Christian minister? I don’t think so. Frankly I blame the Anglican Church for letting him go on with these attacks against other Christians.

  11. Michael Coren used to worry for the safety of his family from this group (LGBTQrst..) which he now defends. He used to complain about the numerous black pieces of paper that were faxed to him as a protest against what he said against them because of their high degree of “tolerance”. He said that his young daughter changed his mind about the whole gay thing. Imagine being influenced by the naive and immature feelings of a child on something so incredibly culture-killing??? He does need prayers.

  12. I feel deeply sorry for Coren because he sounds as if he is someone who was deeply spiritually adrift even when he was advocating for the right things, the right morals and values, and sound ideas. His mind knew the truth then, and still does today, but his heart is far from it.

  13. Most interesting article and most of the comments. One can only conclude that Mr. Coren does not have a very stable life, apparently because he lacks an anchor to anything that offers safety and certainty in troubled seas. Since I only took one survey course in psychology I can not comment on his thought process but I did learn enough to know that his manifest behavior would benefit from professional intervention. While I would wish him the best, reality intrudes with considerable doubt.

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