Damian Thompson: Oxford professor throws hissy fit over Ordinariate

Historians in the News

[Damian Thompson is Editor of Telegraph Blogs and a journalist specialising in religion. He was once described by The Church Times as a "blood-crazed ferret."]

From behind the Times paywall, the muffled sound of a High Table explosion. Quick, someone send for help! Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford, has suffered a devastating failure of scholarly objectivity. His face is getting redder and redder as he struggles to come to terms with… eeeek! … the Ordinariate!

Now you might say I’m a fine one to talk about objectivity. But, then again, I don’t hold a chair in church history at Oxford. Prof MacCulloch, author of the definitive biography of Thomas Cranmer and a bestselling history of Christianity, is known to identify more closely with 16th-century Protestants than with the Counter-Reformation Catholic Church. That’s fair enough: the judgments in his books are elegant and nuanced. Not so his axe-grinding oped for the Times.

MacCulloch tells us that the concept of “flying bishops” is “absurd”. I agree – but he then pours scorn on those flying bishops who are resigning precisely because they have lost faith in the concept and now recognise that they do belong in the Roman Catholic Church....

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