20 February 2007

“Did too!” “Did not!” “Did too!” "Did not!”

I don’t know a whole lot about Ruth Gledhill except that she has been the Religion Correspondent for The Times of London since 1989. She can’t be a stupid woman to have achieved that position, but in this case she certainly writes like one.

Maybe she was just being like the child who can’t resist poking a stick into an ants’ nest when she wrote her recent article, “Churches back plan to unite under Pope.” There was no plan, nor could there be, given the present state of Anglicanism. The churches in question haven’t even discussed the document on which she based her story. In fact, her irresponsible surmising has caused Catholic Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane, Australia and Anglican Bishop David Beetge of South Africa, the co-chairmen of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, to issue a correction of the misunderstanding her report has caused. By their own admission, the theological barriers to such an assertion as Mrs. Gledhill’s haven’t even begun to be settled.

Why would she, a person placed in a public and responsible role, do something like this? She has caused embarrassment to the bishops serving as co-chairmen of the Commission, although she should be the one who feels embarrassed. Did she just want to ride the wave of interest in the Anglican Primates’ meeting which was taking place in Dar es Salaam? If so, all she managed to do was to emphasize the disarray being exhibited there. Did she want to make the Catholic Church appear to be ungenerous by not opening wide the doors to all Anglicans to come aboard the Barque of Peter, no questions asked? If so, she failed in that, too, because the whole world knows that Rome is not about to embrace women clergy or “bishops in committed same-sex relationships” or the host of other baggage which seems to be defining Anglicanism these days.

This kind of thing isn’t a game. Ecumenism is a serious and important business because it is the desire of Christ Himself that we all be one. Mrs. Gledhill had her moment, but she really should put a cork in it. She knew perfectly well that what she claimed was not true. She’s been around the world of religion long enough to know that. And The Times has, too. They should all be ashamed. And if this sounds harsh, it's because this kind of irresponsiblity makes me angry.