The last few days have seen a flurry of stories heralding the imminent demise of Catholic religious orders. The stunning statistic that was reported in the years 2005-2006, the Church had seen a decline of 94,790 religious constituting a whopping 10% percent decline in a single year. This figure would mean that we lost more religious in a single year than we had in the previous decade. Dozens of news stories followed on the the heels of this shocking L’Osservatore Romano story.

The only thing is, it isn’t true. Not just little not true, a whopping not true. The actual figure is a decline of 7,230 which constitutes less than 1%. That is one big oops! L’Osservatore Romano has now corrected the figure but we all know that the damage is done. All the stories written in the last few days trumpeting the massive decline in vocations will not be unwritten.

People make mistakes so I am not going to call for the author and editors at L’Osservatore Romano to be excommunicated for this blunder, but something should be done. This should have raised many, many red flags before being published.

Perhaps, following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s lead, we can temporarily institute sharia law at the newspaper and give them all a good lashing (With a wet noodle of course!). Perhaps we can ask for 7,230 lashes but ‘accidentally’ give them 94,790 instead. Oops, sorry! Our bad. That should make the point.