The media are all over the Roman Catholic-Anglican Church
arrangement recently announced by the Vatican, so we should be seeing a
lot of interesting reporting and analysis. But oddly, most of it is
coming from one direction.

GetReligion
comments on that, citing a National Catholic Register article that
cites a bunch of secular media reports. So, it’s a snapshot of a
composite picture of distortions. Sort of…

The relevant snip from the Register:

Venues such as National Public Radio, the London Times,
and the Kansas City Star describe the Church as “poaching.” USA Today
says the Church is “rustling.” Other media outlets used the term
“luring.” Some question whether the move was a “hostile takeover.” And
London Times’ columnist Libby Purves says that “converts may choke on
the raw meat of Catholicism.”

Mainstream newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post
have used the word “bid.” The Boston Globe uses both the words “lure”
and “bid.”

No matter how you look at it, they’re all unsavory terms used by the
secular media to describe the Church’s actions. Even some Catholic
commentators have taken to calling the move “sheep-stealing,” saying
that there’s an unwritten rule that the Church doesn’t proselytize
other Christians.

Since when did the Catholic Church cease to be an evangelizing Church, bringing the Gospel to all peoples?

Terry Mattingly takes this opportunity to, once again, call religion
reporters to a higher degree of aptitude with the issues they’re
covering.

Once again, journalists face a basic question: Do the
facts of this story suggest that Pope Benedict XVI sought out this
contact with Anglican traditionalists or was it the other way around?
Was this an invasion or a rescue mission, at the request of a flock of
Anglo-Catholics who had, for several years, been requesting help?

The Economist writers answer those basics here.

SINCE the Church of England voted 17 years ago to admit
women to the priesthood, disenchanted individual members of the
80m-strong worldwide Anglican Communion have been quietly converting to
Roman Catholicism…

For years, the pope’s officials have been mulling over what to do
about Anglican splinter groups which sought to join the Catholic church
as a body. Foremost among these is the Traditional Anglican Communion
(TAC), led by an Australian archbishop, John Hepworth….

But the papal decree goes much further. It enables not just the TAC,
but any Anglican group—community, parish, even an entire diocese—to
enter into communion with Rome without sacrificing its traditions. The
so-called Apostolic Constitution (the highest form of pontifical
ordinance) creates a new entity that transcends diocesan boundaries:
the “personal ordinariate”, similar to the “military ordinariates” for
Roman Catholics in the armed forces. In charge of each will be a former
Anglican prelate…

Archbishop Hepworth declared himself “profoundly moved by the generosity” of Pope Benedict.

And though the piece makes the one point about Rowan Williams,
head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, that’s circulating most in
media coverage – with Williamson claiming that he was only notified of
this decision at a late stage – its context would be helped if they
reported on what he said next. CWR does in this piece.

In a letter addressed to Anglican bishops, Williams
lamented the fact that he was “informed of the planned announcement at
a very late stage,” but stated that “this new possibility is in no
sense at all intended to undermine existing relations between our two
communions or to be an act of proselytism or aggression.”

Bishop Christopher Epting, deputy for ecumenical and interreligious
affairs for the Episcopal Church in the United States, issued a
statement saying that the Vatican announcement “reflects what the Roman
Catholic Church, through its acceptance of Anglican rite parishes, has
been doing for some years more informally.” Epting is referring to the
“pastoral provision” approved by Pope John Paul II in the early 1980s,
whereby several Anglican parishes in the United States entered the
Catholic Church while continuing to observe Anglican liturgical and
spiritual practices.

So there is great depth and breadth to this story. For more than a few angles.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....