You can always gauge how sensible ones comments are on Europe by the furore they create in certain quarters. The more sensible the comments, the more severe the tongue lashing. The Telegraph’s reaction today to the recent submission from the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council to the Parliamentary inquiry into the UK’s relationship with the EU is no exception.
Rowena Mason, the Telegraph’s political correspondent, covered the submission in her blog this morning. It was an unusually balanced piece of factual reporting from the Telegraph spiced up by a few juicy quotes from Conservative MPs from the more eurosceptical wing of the party. As is the norm today subsequent journalists, like Ian Martin, leap in with secondary comment based on Rowena’s reading of the submission rather than their own.
Martin’s central complaint stems from Rowena’s reporting that the Church has made this submission on the grounds that it was speaking “by virtue of its history as a European Church. “Good grief” Martin writes, “If the Church of England doesn’t even understand the circumstances of its birth, then how can it expect anyone else to care about what it says?” What then follows is a Telegraph version of ecclesiastical history stretching back to the reformation.
If Martin had stayed true to his journalistic profession and actually read the piece that he was reporting on he would have realized that the full sentence that Mason only partially reported read as follows:
“The Church of England is a Church established by law in the UK but it is also by virtue of its history a European Church. It recognizes that to have any influence in Brussels it needs to work in partnership with others. To this end it has invested time, energy and resources inbuilding appropriate bilateral and multilateral relations with key strategic partners across Europe.”
If Martin had spent even five minutes to delve into the folds of the submission he would have learnt that ever since the creation of the Diocese in Europe, the Church of England has been active in all the member states of the European Union. It counts among its worshipping members nationals of all the member states and many others. It is from this broad and diverse grass roots base of relations and contacts that the Church engages with European affairs both here in Westminster and in Brussels. It does so on behalf of all its members – even those who aren’t resident here in the UK.