Holy-in-one golf diversion from World Cup
While much of the globe fixes itself in front of the nearest available television set to follow developments in the 2006 football World Cup, two teams of North-East England clergy have something more ëholy-in-oneí in mind ñ a bracing game of golf across the Anglican-Catholic divide.
The none-too-serious (or very intense, depending on who you talk to) game will feature, on one side, the Anglican Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Tom Wright, with clergy from his own diocese and neighbouring Newcastle.
The opposition consists of five fighting-fit Roman Catholic priests led by Bishop Kevin Dunn of Hexham and Newcastle. The Four Ball Better Ball competition kicks off ñ sorry, tees off ñ at 11am on the High Plains Golf Course, Bishop Auckland, on Monday 19 June 2006.
This is the first time that teams of clergy from the respective churches have met on the golf course in the North-East, according to Ged Naughton writing for Independent Catholic News.
The game-of-two-halves idea apparently arose when the two bishops found out that they were both keen on golf. Catholic Bishop Dunn reckons he can get round the High Plains course ìin about 100.î
No handicap estimates are available for Anglican Bishop Wright ñ also known as the prolific New Testament scholar, N. T. Wright. But friends fear that his prodigious literary output may have restricted his golf practice. In daylight, at least.
It is believed that form critics will be out in force as the two teams take to the green on Monday. In the event of unexpected metatarsal injuries they may have to contemplate a reformation ñ or perhaps even a counter-reformation, say golf commentators.
Fr Mick Conaty, parish priest of St Anthony of Padua, Newcastle, is the captain of the Catholic team who await his holy orders. He says: ìI haven't picked the team yet. I donít know who the Anglicans are and what the strength of their team is, and Iím having a difficult time getting the information.î
Our Lady of Sorrows is reported to be assisting Fr Conaty with recourse to his enquiries.
By a curious footballing coincidence, St Anthony of Padua turns out to be the favoured saint of East London Anglican priest and passionate Leyton Orient supporter, Fr Kevin Scully ñ who contributed an essay to Ekklesiaís recent book on the meaning of the cross, Consuming Passion.
However Fr Scully is not known to have any golf leanings or spies in the North East, so it is safe to assume that he will be restricting his pastoral interests next week to the World Cup and, no doubt, Give Injustice the Red Card.
[Also Ekklesia: World cup anti-poverty advert is banned 11/06/06; Football gives faith communities a common goal 10/06/06; Soccer fans and foes asked to Give Injustice the Red Card 09/06/06; Give injustice the red card Jun 9, 2006 An alternative World Cup guide for those with global vision; German churches to be peacemakers during World Cup, by Fran race; Fairtrade football - fair trade football gift ideas; Christians and Muslims score a goal against soccer racism; Will Baptist soccer bosses teach England's Sven about crosses?; World Cup proves a football blessing to Iran; Hallowed be thy game]