Saturday, 3 April 2010


There has been massive coverage of the Archbishop of Canterbury's perhaps less than welcome intervention into the affairs of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Was he being naive? Was he simply unaware of the furore his broadcast remarks would be likely to cause? One very much hopes so; in fact, we have something of a duty to interpret such remarks in the best possible light unless there is any reason to believe otherwise. Having said that, it is hard to consider that these observations from someone who is an outsider (along with other recent comments on the need for the papal primacy) could be in any way helpful or constructive in the present situation in Ireland or beyond. We all make gaffes and mistakes of all kinds, but we don't all live our lives in the media spotlight or, for that matter, employ press officers and PR experts to help us get things right. When dealing with professional broadcasters whose job is to get a good story it's not a bad idea to adopt a professional approach onself. It may be regrettable, but at this level radio broadcasts by their very nature can't simply be an interesting exchange of ideas among intellectual equals around a dinner table or in a lecture room. That's an indulgence best left until retirement.

It was interesting to see the crypto-Anglican Catherine Pepinster of The Tablet lining up to support Archbishop Williams, whereas the Church of Ireland (Anglican) Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Neill  said he had listened to the remarks of Dr Williams with "deep regret".
He went on to say, "As one who... acknowledges the pain and deep suffering of the victims of abuse, I also feel for the countless priests and bishops who daily live out their Christian vocation," he said.
He said he supported the Roman Catholic Archbishop Diarmid Martin "as he works for the proclamation of the Gospel and the healing of hurt, including that of the faithful and their clergy whose ministry has been undermined by those guilty of the abuse of children."

Is there any communication at all between Anglican primates these days? One would have thought 'the man on the spot' would have a more informed view. Or are we being asked to exchange an infallible (and carefully and restrictively defined) Catholic universal primacy  for a  fallible, undefined, foot-in-mouth, Anglican one? Or is all this fuss only about some random observations of the Primate of All England who just happens to be a guest on BBC national radio's Start the Week?

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