I was listening to the news this morning and caught the tail end of a piece which I thought said that a footballer had been arrested to making the sign of the cross during a football match. Nah, I thought. Must have misheard. However, it appears that the old Dale hearing is in perfect working order as the venerable Archbishop Cranmer (for it is he) has emailed from beyond his grave to alert me to THIS post on his blog which details the whole sorry story. This is what the BBC website says...
Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc has been cautioned for a breach of the peace by police for blessing himself in an Old Firm match at Ibrox in February. The Crown Office said the procurator fiscal had issued the caution as an alternative to prosecution. A spokesman explained that Boruc's actions "included a combination of behaviour before a crowd in the charged atmosphere of an Old Firm match". And that the Polish keeper's behaviour had "provoked alarm and crowd trouble". The incident was said to have taken place at the start of the second half of the game on 12 February. Police investigated the complaints and submitted a report to the procurator fiscal. "It's a worrying and alarming development, especially since the sign of the cross is globally accepted as a gesture of religious reverence," said Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Catholic Church.
I accept that Celtic v Rangers matches are highly charged affairs, but the sign of the cross is used by both Protestants and Catholics alike. It's used by all sorts of sportsmen just before they begin to perform or after they score. To be cautioned by the Police for making the sign before a game of football is nothing short of a disgrace. And I speak as a confirmed agnostic. We are after all a Christian country.
Let's imagine that in the Cricket World Cup, Pakistan plays India and one of the Pakistani Muslim players bows to Mecca. Do we really think the Police would even contemplate cautioning him because he may have offended the off Hindu India supporter? Of course not, and nor should they. All the Police have achieved by this ridiculous caution is a further accentuation of the religious divide.
UPDATE: Me Eugenides has a different take on this HERE.