I have just come across an article published in Britain's The Daily Mail following Rowan Williams recent visit to Lourdes.
It asserts two things. First, it claims +Rowan is the first archbishop of Canterbury to accept visions of the Blessed Virgin as historical fact, with a claim that he thereby accepts the RC doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and also criticises him for acknowledging the BVM as the Mother of God.
Secondly, it asserts that he "praised the lives of the saints, another devotion seen as distinctively Roman Catholic."
The latter assertion is patently false, but I am wondering whether the claim about ABCs and the BVM is true.
A final observation. I know nothing about Simon Caldwell, the author of this piece, but he would do well to become a regular reader of one of our featured blogs, Get Religion, which critiques journalistic coverage of religion. He has shown himself to be woefully ignorant of Anglican theology, and seems to be taking guidance on it exclusively from the Protestant Truth Society. The result is to portray the Church of England as nothing more than another Protestant denomination, therefore setting up the straw man of +Rowan as having drifted from the right path. (Heaven knows there's already enough evidence of that without using straw men).
Following is part of the article:
"The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was yesterday branded a 'papal puppet' after he became the first leader of the Church of England to accept visions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes as historical fact.
"He asserted that 18 visions of Our Lady allegedly experienced by Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 were true.
"His words shocked millions of Protestants worldwide because they not only signified a break with Protestant teaching on the Virgin Mary but also Dr Williams's personal acceptance of the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which is explicitly linked to the apparitions.
"The archbishop made his remarks during a three-day visit to the shrine in the French Pyrenees - the first ever by a leader of the Church of England.
"In a homily he preached at an international Mass there, Dr Williams spoke about the apparitions without any qualifications.
"'When Mary came to Bernadette, she came at first as an anonymous figure, a beautiful lady, a mysterious 'thing', not yet identified as the Lord's spotless mother,' Dr Williams said.
"'And Bernadette - uneducated, uninstructed in doctrine - leapt with joy, recognising that here was life, here was healing,'" he said.
"'Only bit by bit does Bernadette find the words to let the world know; only bit by bit, we might say, does she discover how to listen to the Lady and echo what she has to tell us.'
"He also praised the lives of the saints, another devotion seen as distinctively Roman Catholic.
"'It may be when we encounter a person in whom we sense that the words we rather half-heartedly use about God are a living and actual reality,' he said.
"'That's why the lives of the saints, ancient and modern, matter so much.'
"Afterwards he was severely criticised by the Protestant Truth Society, a group of Anglicans and nonconformists committed to upholding the ideals of the Protestant Reformation.
"The Rev Jeremy Brooks, director of ministry for the group, said: 'All true Protestants will be appalled that the Archbishop of Canterbury has visited Lourdes, and preached there.
"'Lourdes represents everything about Roman Catholicism that the Protestant Reformation ejected, including apparitions, mariolatry and the veneration of saints.
"'The archbishop's simple presence there is a wholesale compromise, and his sermon which included a reference to Mary as 'the Mother of God' is a complete denial of Protestant orthodoxy.'"
"He added: 'At a time when our country is crying out for clear Biblical leadership, it is nothing short of tragic that our supposedly Protestant archbishop is behaving as little more than a papal puppet.'"