Australian pastor Michael Guglielmucci, who had evoked worldwide sympathy for his cancer, has confessed he had faked illness to conceal his porn addiction.
He was stripped of his credentials after his confession before the national executive of the Australian Christian Churches Saturday.
Edge Church International's executive pastor Jonathan Fontanarosa said Mr Guglielmucci had "made it clear that he is not sick".
"But we're waiting on further investigation to find out the full truth," he said. "The church is in shock . . . we were totally unaware of the situation."
A statement from Edge Church International General Manager Steve Hilder stated that Guglielmucci is an "itinerate minister who held a credential with the Australian Christian Churches."
"His credential was immediately suspended," it said.
"The National Executive of the ACC is taking this matter very seriously and is awaiting the results of the medical tests before determining the full extent of the discipline that will be imposed upon him.
"Edge Church is committed to the truth and honouring the people of our church. Our history has been one of integrity and openness. We love the people of our community (who) have been actively involved in trying to bring life and hope to the hurting and the needy and will continue to do so."
In a statement, the fallen priest said, "For over 16 years, I have struggled with an addiction to adult pornography. As a result of this secret life of sin my body would often break down."
Appearing on a TV show Tuesday along with his father, Guglielmucci
said, "This is who I am ... I'm addicted to the stuff, it consumes my mind.''
"... I'm sick and this is why I had to come up some sort of explanation of what was happening in my body.''
The shame of his addiction manifested itself physically, resulting in him losing his hair and purging his body.
"I don't know how you can fake vomiting all over yourself night after night after night, I'm not that good an actor,'' he said.
To conceal the two-year cancer lie which he hid from his wife and family, he sent phoney emails to his loved ones from non-existent medical practitioners.
"I've been living a lie for a long time,'' he said.
"I've been hiding who I am for so long. "I can honestly say to you that the last two years have been hell for me physically, emotionally, but I never sat down and said ... let's try and fool the world.''
Guglialmucci also promised that all monies received via the sales of his "inspired" song Healer would be returned.
"I don't have any desire to attain any financial gain from that, we're already making stages to sign those royalties over,'' he said.
"I'm so sorry, not just for lying to my friends and my family even about a sickness, but I'm sorry for a life of saying I'm something I'm not ... from this day on I'm telling the truth.''
Guglielmucci had worked with one of Australia's biggest youth churches, Planetshakers and inspired hundreds of thousands of young Christians around the world as he performed with an oxygen tube in his nose. Healer
became an anthem of faith for believers and money came pouring in.
In a YouTube video, he tells how the news from the hospital that he had "quite an aggressive form of cancer" inspired his song. "I just went home. I knew I had to go home and needed to get alone with God," he says in the video.
"I walked into my studio at home and for some reason. . . I sat at a piano and began to worship.
"I sang that song from start to finish. I was crying. I just realised that God had given me an incredible gift and I realise that song was going to be my strength."
Church community sources said Guglielmucci attended his medical appointments alone.
Guglielmucci's wife and family were unaware of the deception. The Melbourne-based preacher is in Adelaide, and it was his parents, who founded Edge Church International, an Assemblies of God church at Reynella. They are by his side, assisting him. He is receiving psychiatric counselling.
While many in the church were embarrassed by the betrayal, others showed support on Facebook, where a page titled "We are STILL praying for you Mike Guglielmucci" has been up.
Danny Guglielmucci, the father said that the first he knew of his son's web of lies was on August 13.
Three days later, a meeting of the national executive of the Australian Christian Churches was convened at which his son confessed because of a dream of Jesus on the cross looking down at him saying "the truth will set you free."
Danny Guglielmucci stood before 1200 people packed into the former indoor cricket arena for forgiveness, but maintained that he and the church had acted ethically.
"I have led you with openness and integrity and declare that we have not lived a lie before you," he said, before receiving a rousing ovation.
Despite the betrayal, forgiveness was the catch-cry for an overwhelming majority of those at the service.
"Obviously it was the wrong thing to do, but I'm proud that he's come out and admitted it," said 18-year-old student Daniel Sutherland.
Porn addiction among priests is nothing new. A few years ago, Martin K Miller of the US was convicted for murder of his wife, confessed he was addicted to porn.
His ever-escalating addiction, Miller said, caused him to participate in an online adult dating service, which led to his having an extramarital affair with a Eudora woman that included role-playing, bondage, spanking and explicit photographs.
Prosecutors argued that Miller, a carpenter, wanted his wife out of the way so he'd be free to pursue sexual relationships with other women and so he could collect more than $300,000 in life-insurance money.
During the trial, Miller said he was receiving counselling from Rev Darrell Brazel who himself had had a history of addiction.
Christian men, Brazell said at the time, are especially susceptible to becoming addicted to pornography and, consequently, masturbation.
"As a Christian, you believe that pornography and masturbation are morally wrong," he said. "And yet, because of so many issues that we grow up with, you're attracted to it, which causes all kinds of shame and guilt you're in pain."
As this pain intensifies, Brazell said, so too does the attraction to pornography.
"You wind up in this downward spiral that after a while, you can't get out of," he said. "The addict within you does things the rational self would never do."
Non-Christians, Brazell said, may be less vulnerable to pornography addiction because they experience less shame.
And yet another US pastor David Erik Jones has written a book entitled, My Struggle, Your Struggle: Breaking Free from Habitual Sin of his battle with pornography.
A Christian website argued, "Fifty percent of Christian men and 20 percent of Christian women admit that they are addicted to pornography (Christiannet.com June 07). Fifty-one percent of pastors say cyber porn is a possible temptation; 37 percent say it is a current struggle (Christianity Today> Leadership Survey, December 2001). Of Promise Keepers attendees, one of the largest Christian men's conferences in the U.S., 53 percent admitted to viewing pornography regularly (Internet Filter Review, 2006). Forty million adults in the U.S. regularly visit porn sites on the internet (Internet Filter Review). Forty-seven percent of families say pornography is a problem in their home (Focus on the Family Poll, October 2003)."