As always, anything the Vatican does receives terrible reporting from the media. It generally receives bad reportage mainly for two reasons. 1) Reporters don’t know a thing about Catholicism. 2) Most reporters hate Catholicism.

They hate Catholicism so much that when Notre Dame plays Boston College they can’t bring themselves to root for either team so they just hope for injuries.

But the reporting surrounding the Church’s accepting of the The Anglican Communion was pretty bad even by media standards. It included wishing metaphorical death on the converts, accusing the Pope of an act of war, predicting this would be a disaster for the Church, and accusing the Pope of an 18th century misdemeanor known as “poaching.”

It’s always a good sign of fiercely independent reporting when all the media fiercely and independently uses the same words and metaphors. For some strange reason, the word “poach” was returned from the island of “Words that hadn’t yet been used in the 21st century” and dragged into stories concerning the Pope this week.

The word was used about 40 times in news reports concerning the Pope accepting the Traditional Anglican Communion into the Church. Was there some kind of memo issued that all reporters must begin using the word “poach.” Stay tuned for the feature next week which accuses the Pope of “hornswoggling.”

So when I went through some of the more ridiculous headlines, ledes and comments concerning this story, it should be no surprise that NPR kicks off the ridiculous coverage. What does surprise me (a little) is that John Allen was part of it.

NPR with John Allen. NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli interviewed John Allen on All Things Considered:

POGGIOLI: But veteran Vatican correspondent John Allen says the move breaks a longstanding gentlemen’s agreement among divided Christian churches.

ALLEN: That they don’t go fishing in each others’ ponds. They don’t proselytize one another’s members.

OK. Firstly, The Church didn’t go “fishing in” the Anglican pond. The Traditional Anglican Communion crawled out of the Anglican Pond because they thought it was getting a little polluted with the stink of heresy (or maybe they just didn’t like Gene Robinson’s choice of bathing suit), they asked to jump into our pond, and after much deliberation the Pope said, “Come on in. The water’s fine.”

Should the Catholic Church have turned away people who were asking to join? Seems kind of un-Christian to turn them away. Oddly, the BBC clearly liked Allen’s sentiments so much they headlined their story: “Rome goes fishing in Anglican pond.”

But the thing that bugged me in the NPR story was that it was assumed to be a given that Pope Benedict broke a gentleman’s agreement. And Allen, of course, didn’t correct that accusation at all. But hey, breaking a gentleman’s agreement is almost nothing compared to Ruth Gledhill of the UK Times accusing the Pope of an act of war.

Rome parks tanks on Rowan’s lawn

What?! Parks a tank? If anything, Pope Benedict drove a bus, honked its horn outside Rowan’s house and a bunch of Anglicans came-a-running.

But on top of those outlandish headlines you then got your prophecies of doom predicting “this could backfire” on the Church in an editorial from the Kansas City Star:

Conversion works both ways.

That was my thought after seeing the news that the Roman Catholic church will try to poach disaffected Anglicans and bring them back to the fold…Seems as though it may be just as likely that the move to pack the Catholic church with even more conservatives just might send more liberal members of the flock looking for the nearest Episcopal sanctuary.

So the logic of that is it’s bad for the Church to accept converts, I guess. That’s the funny thing about the Church. Anyone can come and go as they please. Nobody keeps you there.

This headline from the Christian Science Monitor was great:

Will Vatican lure Africa’s Anglican anti-gay bishops to Catholic church?

Anti-gay? They don’t attempt to prove the anti-gay accusation. It’s just a given.

But this next one takes the cake because it seems to actually wish or at least predict metaphorical death for the Anglican converts. This headline from Libby Purves of the Times Online reads:

“Converts may choke on raw meat of Catholicism.”

Wow! Libby?! Remind me next week to write something about some Anglicans catching the botchulism of liberalism.

But you see Libby smells a conspiracy. She seems to think that Pope Benedict cleverly timed this announcement to take media attention away from the sexual abuse scandal. Well, that might have been a good strategy…uhm…ten years ago! But I don’t know if Libby’s been comatose or living with the Amish for a while but the abuse scandal actually got mentioned a few times in the media.

And if you know anything about the Vatican’s media strategy it’s that…THE VATICAN HAS NO MEDIA STRATEGY! (See: Holocaust denying SSPX Bishop debacle)

But Libby’s clearly not playing it straight. She’s got a bit of an agenda as she calls transubstantiation a “weird doctrine.” Here’s her closing statement.

“Anglicanism was founded on uneasy compromise, and this has, over centuries, made it kindly and even humble: a mixed salad of a faith. Catholicism is older, darker, strong raw meat. It may choke them.”

How sweet. Mind you, she’s not hoping they all choke, she’s just pointing out that it might happen.

So I’m thinking we take the tank that Ruth Gledhill seems to think that Pope Benedict has. We commandeer it for a few hours, park it on the lawns of the media. Steady…Aim…(Now I’m not predicting the tank will fire. I’m just saying it might.)