Riazat Butt of the Guardian has managed a feat that so far has proved difficult for some of her colleagues on the religion beat at London’s major daily newspapers, eschewing sensationalism about the Ordinariate that the Vatican has created to receive disaffected Anglicans.
Here is the key paragraph in Butt’s story: Up to 900 Anglicans, including 60 clergy, are preparing to be received into the Roman Catholic faith in special services during Holy Week.
You read that correctly 900 people.
The British press continues to cover the development of the Ordinariate as though each person who leaves the Church of England for Rome deserves his or her own personal news story. But in the normal course of things, much larger numbers of people go back and forth between denominations all of the time. I am guessing that within the last five years at least 900 people have left the Catholic Church for the Episcopal Church in the handful of dioceses within a three hours drive of my house in Maryland.
It isn’t so much that this coverage makes the Church of England look bad–It takes a lot to make me feel sorry for Rowan Williams–but that is presents a distorted picture of the incredibly fluid character of post-modern religious life.