Thursday, 19 November 2009

Don't believe everything you read: the myth of archiepiscopal ignorance?

Sitting around feeling sorry for myself with a cold bug incubating quite nicely, I read that The Times has this story today:

The Archbishop of Westminster has blamed Church of England bishops for keeping their leader in the dark about the Pope’s attempts to entice Anglicans to Rome………………
……..In an interview with The Tablet, Archbishop Nichols declined to comment on the accusation from the Anglican Bishop of Southwark, Dr Tom Butler, who accused the Holy See of discourtesy in failing to consult Dr Williams.
Archbishop Nichols said: “While approaches had been made to the Holy See, I don’t think that had been conveyed to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Frankly it was the duty of the Anglicans to do that.”

It will be interesting to read the full interview to see if the Times is just playing its usual troublemaking role here and reporting, how shall we say, somewhat selectively. The only problem I have is that I don’t really want to be seen buying the Tablet (an organ not above a bit of mischief-making of its own) in order to find out.

But surely the real question is not that at all, but concerns the myth of archiepiscopal ignorance. Put simply, the meetings of Anglican bishops and the CDF was the worst kept secret in the Church. If I had heard about them here, I simply cannot believe the Archbishop of Canterbury was completely in the dark. Someone, somewhere, would have made it their business to let him know. He may have not been officially informed or consulted, or have been handed a power of veto, but that’s another issue altogether.
In any case, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet had made an open, public appeal for the Holy Father's help in the pages of the national press. What more notice was he expected to give?


This is the relevant extract from today's (Friday) Tablet - the interview, by Catherine Pepinster,  is free to read online:

“The leader of the Anglican Communion is here and that is a difficulty. While approaches had been made to the Holy See, I don’t think that had been conveyed to the Archbishop of Canterbury,” he said, intimating that it was the Anglicans interested in crossing to Rome who should have kept Canterbury informed. Asked if the CDF could have been more courteous to Dr Williams, he says: “I can’t answer that.”

That's it.  That's all. It answers the above questions about mischief making. Another gratuitously sly comment from The Tablet; another journalistic coup by The Times! Journals of record both.........

There is also a much more balanced, sensitive and sympathetic article (not free online) by Mark Woodruff which is well worth reading, particularly on the subject of patrimony.

1 comment:

  1. Myth is the right word.

    The Archbishop was perfectly well aware of what had been going on, and had been kept informed by the relevant bishops.


Anonymous comments will not be published