Fox repeats that Post error, sort of

One of the problems with journalism in the Internet age is that once a major publication makes a mistake on a major story, that mistake tends to be repeated in the work of other newsrooms -- until someone corrects the error. Thus, we have the following story at Fox News:

The Rev. Mark Lewis now offers a prayer every Sunday morning that centuries ago would have been considered an homage to the enemy. It's a prayer for the bishop of Rome, the pope and all the Catholic bishops and priests.

Lewis chants, "For Benedict our Pope ... Let us prayer to the Lord."

And the congregation sings its answer, "Lord, have mercy."

The distinctly Roman Catholic offering is the outward sign of an inner spiritual journey. St. Luke's Church in Bladensburg, Md., will become later this year the first American Episcopal Parish to convert to Catholicism, Anglicanism's one-time nemesis.

"What really drew us was the apostolic authority, the oneness of the faith of the people," Lewis said "That's what we really wanted, and I don't think you have that in Anglicanism."

Now, one could argue that this is merely a variation on the original mistake made in the Washington Post, and previously discussed here at GetReligion.

But, in a way, the Fox story is worse since it does not even mention the inconvenient fact that another Anglican parish -- Mt. Calvary Church in Baltimore -- had already made the same decision and, on matters of educational preparation, is actually further along the road to Rome.

Then again, the Fox story may -- on the crucial point -- have found a more accurate wording than the original version of this story in Post, which opened like this:

An Episcopal church in Maryland -- including its pastor -- has decided to convert to Catholicism, the first in the United States to make the move under new Vatican rules meant to appeal to disaffected Protestants.

In this case, "the move" is defined as the decision to jump to Rome. The problem, of course, is that Mt. Calvary made that same decision much earlier, as reported in the Catholic press.

The Fox story -- leaving Mt. Calvary totally out of the scene -- focuses only on the future and the likelihood that St. Luke's will complete the process earlier than the parish in Baltimore. Note the subtle change:

St. Luke's Church in Bladensburg, Md., will become later this year the first American Episcopal Parish to convert to Catholicism, Anglicanism's one-time nemesis.

It is likely that this will be the case, for reasons rooted in matters of politics, property and finances in the Episcopal Church. In other words, Episcopal leaders in Washington, D.C., moved faster on a legal settlement than Episcopal leaders in Maryland. The Fox story ignores these complications altogether and simply serves up a PR statement that says:

In the last few years, bitter legal battles over property have erupted in the American Episcopal church when conservative congregations sought to leave and be led by more orthodox Anglicans groups. But St. Luke's transition was essentially given a blessing by the Washington Diocese's Bishop John Bryson Chane.

"Christians move from one church to another with far greater frequency than in the past, sometimes as individuals, sometimes as groups," Chane said in a written statement. "I was glad to be able to meet the spiritual needs of the people and priest of St. Luke's in a way that respects the tradition and polity of both of our churches."

Yes, this is tricky stuff. In a way, the Fox team has printed what may turn out to have been the more accurate story -- if events unfold as predicted. However, the story is rather incomplete. The Post, meanwhile, has never corrected its original error on which parish made its decision first. And the Baltimore Sun remains totally out of the picture. Again.

So, nothing to report here. Move along.

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