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NY Times makes a fix

NY Times makes a fix

I’d like to thank The New York Times for printing the following correction this morning, and for the thoughtful exchanges of emails that led up to it.

An article on Jan. 2 about the Roman Catholic church’s formation of a new diocese-like entity for breakaway Episcopal priests and congregations misstated the role of the Episcopal Church within the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church is the sole official branch of the Anglican Communion in the United States, not “the main American branch.”


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Jim Naughton

I don’t have a problem with the use of the word branch. I think it submits to many interpretations. Member might have been better, but the distinction between the two would have been lost on the vast majority of readers.

While I am on the subject–and this isn’t directed at Juan– church people have a tendency to think that reporters are in the wrong if they don’t use church language. But church language isn’t understood by the overwhelming majority of readers. So reporters are just doing the best they can to communicate difficult concepts to a mass audience.

I can’t tell you how many times I have asked church people what they thought about a certain story which brought the church favorable attention before a large audience, and been told that the reporter was obviously uneducated because he had written that a rector was “hired” instead of “called.” So all of the work and luck that goes into getting someone into a major newspaper, or on television is greeted with complaints about usages that are of no concern to the audience one is trying to reach.

This, as you might imagine, gets up my nose.

Juan Oliver

Not to quibble, but TEC is not a “branch” of the AC, for the AC is a federation of independent churches, each in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. NO MORE. The Episcopal Church is a constitutive member of this federation, which is NOT a centrally managed corporation with “branches.” One could say that of the Roman Catholic Church, but not of the Anglican Communion.

John B. Chilton

Jim’s right. The Anglican Communion is tough for a reporter to comprehend in the best of times.

It doesn’t help that one has to plow through a morass of cotton candied Rowan Williams rhetoric to give get to the truth.

A pointer to the Anglican Communion Office statement about process for becoming a member might be slightly easier to understand, or directing a reporter to the the Anglican Communion website directory of Provinces and their constituent dioceses, as listed there!, might also.

But what would help most is if a reporter, who is being asked to make a correction, could simply contact the Anglican Communion Office and get a direct yes or no answer. I wonder if they can.


I agree with Jim – it is hard for reporters to understand these issues. Several years ago a good friend and seasoned reporter called me up for background help when she was covering Akinola’s visit to Virginia. Her observation was that reading up on this was like listening to twins talking to each other: they have their own language and their own world that we just don’t have access to.

– Anne LeVeque

Jim Naughton

Leslie, I think it is a little complicated for reporters new to the issue to understand that even though ACNA has relationships with churches in the Communion, this does not make them members of the Communion. Also, some components of ACNA claim that they are both members of ACNA and of other churches within the Communion, and that therefore, somehow, ACNA is a member of the Communion. But this argument, when spelled out, doesn’t hold, and it isn’t recognized by the Communion, as evidenced by the fact that when the Church of Uganda attempted to send an American as its alternate representative to the Anglican Consultative Council, he was not seated.

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