Catholic paper drops Michael Coren after pro-abortion piece – but he wasn’t the real problem

Dropping Coren was good, but it's time to clean ship at the Prairie Messenger.
Tue Jun 2, 2015 - 3:13 pm EST
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Former sex-ed critic Michael Coren placed himself just behind the speakers' platform and near the media during an April 14 rally outside Queen's Park to criticize parents outraged over Wynne's explicit sex-ed program. Lianne Laurence / LifeSiteNews

June 2, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- It appears that the ‘Catholic’ Prairie Messenger has reluctantly been compelled to turf ex-Catholic Michael Coren just days after it vigorously defended a piece in which he openly advocated for abortion in the case of rape.

In his May 20 piece titled "Seamless garment," Coren — who recently left the Catholic Church to join the Anglican Church of Canada over Catholic teaching on homosexuality — had written that the 10-year-old Paraguayan girl who seized international headlines last month should be legally allowed to abort her baby since she became pregnant by rape.

“A terrified little girl victimized by those around her and forced by a government to give birth to the child of her rapist? That is not justice, that is not life, that is not right. God must be weeping,” he wrote.

While for any serious Catholic it’s clear that a pro-abortion piece has no place whatsoever in a newspaper supposedly dedicated to “reflect upon [...] political and social processes in the light of the Gospel and of the teachings of the church,” staff at the Prairie Messenger actually defended publishing Coren’s article, telling me last week that Catholic readers have “much to gain by listening to the voices of others.”

In fact, spokesperson Maureen Weber went as far as saying that Catholics live in a “diverse society” where “nothing is black and white.”

While I’m glad that Prairie Messenger will no longer be a mouthpiece for Coren’s misplaced notions of compassion and love, the problem remains that Coren wasn’t actually the problem here. Running his article was merely a symptom of a much bigger problem at Prairie Messenger, namely that its staff outright disregarded Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life while defending the publication of a position totally contrary to the rudimentary Catholic morality of “Thou shalt not murder.” 

When I brought Prairie Messenger’s defiance of Catholic teaching to the attention of Bishop Donald Bolen of Saskatoon — the diocese of the Benedictine monastic community at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, Saskatchewan where Prairie Messenger is published — I was told by Vicar General for the Diocese Fr. Kevin McGee that “Bishop Don is responding to the situation internally.”

It looks like the bishop exerted his rightful authority in his diocese by making the correct decision that Prairie Messenger somehow was not able to make for itself. All good so far, but more is needed.

It is not enough that Prairie Messenger should quietly drop Coren and then continue with business as usual. Staff should issue a public apology for running the piece, especially to those conceived in rape. They should then publish a retraction with a pledge of allegiance to the Catholic faith, promising never to depart from Catholic teaching in choosing which pieces to publish.

While Coren is gone, his article nevertheless remains online to pervert the mind of any young Catholic happening to accidentally stumble across it after doing a Google search about what the Catholic position is on abortion in the case of rape. The piece should be deleted with a redirection to the apology and retraction.

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Of course none of this will happen, because it would mean the collapse of the entire ethos currently animating all that goes on at Prairie Messenger. Because of this, quite frankly, the editorial staff should be turfed and the Prairie Messenger handed over to those who have the competence to weed out and discard articles that trash the faith while publishing those that truly benefit a Catholic readership seeking to be faithful followers of Christ and his Church.

If publishing a piece like Coren’s was a first time offense, perhaps one could be persuaded to be more lenient, but Prairie Messenger has a lengthy history of running articles opposing Catholic teaching.

In a July 2004 Catholic Insight article titled “A flawed stewardship,” Joe Campbell of Saskatoon, SK, called the Prairie Messenger’s editorial stance “disappointing” for taking what he called a “cafeteria approach to teachings on faith and morals, accepting some while rejecting others.”

Campbell criticized then-editor Rev. Andrew Britz, OSB, for failing to support Church teachings on issues such as the male priesthood, contraception, fornication, and homosexuality.

“Not only has Fr. Britz failed to support certain teachings, but he has repeatedly challenged them. He has managed this in three ways: through his editorials; through regular columnists he has retained; and through unbalanced coverage of certain events and issues,” he wrote at that time.

Running Coren’s piece looks like just more of the same-old, same old. It’s clearly time to clean ship or have Prairie Messenger drop ‘Catholic’ from its claim to be the "official Catholic newspaper for western Canada."

  abortion, catholic, michael coren, prairie messenger

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