The Guardian gets Williams, even if the Catholic hierarchy doesn’t
This morning the BBC will broadcast [Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams] recorded remarks on the Irish Catholic crisis, in which he says, quite in passing, that the church there has “lost all credibility”. This perception is so widely shared, and so close to the truth, that to say it out loud has provoked an enormous row. After the interview was made public, Williams produced an uncharacteristically political apology – which is to say that he regrets the offence he has caused, but not the offending remark; the Roman Catholic archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, could be heard on Radio 4 yesterday biting back the word “insult” when he was asked about it.
No one can blame Williams for pointing this out, nor indeed for getting his own back for years of patronising comments and aggressive behaviour from the Roman church. The official Vatican observer at the last Lambeth conference appeared to say that the Anglican communion was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Pope Benedict has personally encouraged the schism in the Anglican churches over homosexuality and most recently announced, to the consternation of even his own church here, a scheme to allow the Anglican opponents of women priests to convert in groups.
Both the conflict, and absent clear-eyed Catholic confrontation with the real circumstances, the decline to which Williams correctly alluded will almost inevitably continue.
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