More important than Rome

By Lauren R. Stanley

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti – The blogosphere is awash with commentary about Pope Benedict XVI’s offer to take in disaffected Anglicans and let them be, in essence, “pretend Roman Catholics.” The surprise offer from Rome last week has been in the newspapers, all over the television and was even the subject of NPR’s Sunday edition of All Things Considered.

Many, many commentators have said that they are insulted by this offer, and have written tens of thousands of words about how insulted they are.

But what is more insulting to me (perhaps that word is too strong, but I don’t know how else to say this right now) is that while so many of us are focused on what is ultimately a non-issue, people are dying or being threatened with death every moment, and we are not all atwitter over that.

Last Tuesday, four people living in slums in Haiti – forced to live there because they could not afford anything else – were killed in mudslides, and four others were reported missing after heavy rains … and there was almost no coverage of that at all. Do not poor people need our attention?

On Saturday, 32 people were reported killed in three separate terrorist attacks in Pakistan, pushing the number of those killed there in October well past the 100 mark. Are we praying for peace in Pakistan?

On Sunday, twin blasts in Baghdad killed at least 155 on Sunday morning, damaging not only buildings and cars, but also the prospects for peace in that war-torn land. St. George’s Anglican Church was damaged in the bombings. What are we doing to support peace there?

On Monday, 14 Americans were killed in Afghanistan, bringing the number of U.S. service members killed in October to 45. Are we praying daily for those who serve our country?

Fighting continues in Sudan, where more than 1,000 people have died in inter-tribal fighting and at the hands of rogue militias in the last six months alone. Others have been killed by members of the Lord’s Resistance Army out of Uganda. How do we support our brothers and sisters in Christ in that harsh land?

In Uganda, there is a bill that is threatening gay people with jail, at the very least, and the death penalty, if certain people get their way, simply for being gay. Are we speaking out on this, demanding that God’s justice be done?

I know the announcement from Rome was a shocker. I know it deserves comment. But really: Isn’t it more a tempest in a teapot than anything else? Does it really deserve all the miles of press it is getting? Does it deserve all the space we’re giving it in our heads?

There are serious things going on in this world, things to which we are not paying sufficient attention. People’s lives are literally at stake.

This is where I am centering my prayer life. This is where I am focusing my attention.

An offer from Rome to go worship there? Thanks, but not thanks.

‘Nuff said.

The Rev. Lauren R. Stanley is an Appointed Missionary of the Episcopal Church serving in the Diocese of Haiti, where she works on the Partnership Program and Development. Her website is

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