…there is one item which seems quite extraordinary, which in the UK is leading the reporting of this story: the alleged claim by Francis Campbell, UK ambassador to the Holy See, that Pope Benedict’s creation in September last year of a church structure for the reception of groups of Anglicans risked the worst crisis in Anglican-Catholic relations in 150 years. Even more bizarrely, he is reported to have told the US deputy chief of mission to the Holy See, Julieta Valls Noyes, that the move could lead to “violence” against Catholics.
As I told BBC News this morning — watch here — I knew, reading this, it wasn’t true: not just because I know Francis Campbell, and his reaction to Pope Benedict’s initiative; but because no UK diplomat with any sense — and Francis has more than many diplomats put together — would have said something so lurid and exaggerated.
He would have spoken about the tensions with the Anglican Church which Anglicanorum coetibus occasioned, the difficult position it put the Archbishop of Canterbury in, and the offence caused to Lambeth Palace by the way in which the move was announced — all of which are also reported.
But the remarks about crisis and violence are obviously half-heard, decontextualised, and distorted….