THE Church of England this week received what is probably the
most unusual challenge from the Roman Catholic Church since the
Reformation, when the Vatican's new St Peter's Cricket Club
challenged the Church of England to a cricket match at Lord's.
And the cricketing Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Revd Mark
Rylands, said that the Church of England would be "up for it".
"We don't have a national team, but we have several diocesan
teams, and would have no problem putting a good team together to
play a Vatican XI," he said on Wednesday. "Perhaps we ought to let
the London team [play the match], because they won the last
Church Times cup. They're probably the strongest of the
diocesan teams, with four or five good players."
But he did not rule out the possibility of drawing on the best
of the diocesan teams - including the Revd Jez Barnes, from London,
and the Revd Steve Gray, from Chichester - for a national Church of
England XI. "If they're going to be called St Peter's, I reckon we
ought to be called St George's."
A member of the Vatican XI, Fr Theodore Mascarenhas, told the
news agency Reuters: "We hope to have ecumenical dialogue through
cricket, and play a Church of England side by September."
Bishop Mark Rylands joked: "We'll keep the sledging to a
minimum, and I'm sure we won't need to bring in the Methodists as
Vatican insiders suggested that Pope Francis was more of a
football fan than a cricket fan, but was likely to welcome the