I didn’t even know the Vatican had a cricket team, but they do, and the roster is filled with “priests, deacons and seminarians studying in Rome.” In the spirit of goodwill, the Vatican XI (clever) decided to play an exhibition match against the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI. Anglicans versus Catholics. Should be fun.
Playwright and experienced cricket player Michael Claughton heard about the match and offered to be the umpire. But he was rejected for the strangest of reasons:
… despite his 18 years’ experience — and the fact he has played cricket since childhood — the [sponsoring Church Times] publication refused to give him the job because his ancestor Thomas Leigh Claughton was a Church of England bishop… and it might make him biased against the Catholic team.
By the way, his ancestor lived 200 years ago.
Father-of-one Mr Claughton said: “It’s bonkers. This is church bureaucracy gone mad. They said to me ‘we’ll probably be looking for a Methodist or an atheist’. It’s amazing.”
Church Times editor Paul Handley said: “It’s perfectly true. We wanted to be careful that the match is seen to be completely fairly played, and it was a suggestion from Kent County Cricket Club. They said they will look for umpires and look for people who are theologically neutral.
How’s that for a background check…?
I doubt they’ll find many qualified atheists or Methodists, by the way, since many of them have ancestors who held different beliefs. I know religion has a habit of sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong, but this one’s a stretch even for me.