One of Britain’s best-known Anglican bishops has converted to Catholicism after accusing the Church of England of “jumping on fashionable carts.”
Michael Nazir-Ali, who served as the Bishop of Rochester from 1994 to 2009, claimed his move was “about belonging to a church where there is clear teaching for the faithful.”
The married father of two could now be ordained as a Catholic priest as early as next month after he said he was considering denominational transitions “for several years.”
dr. Nazir-Ali had accused the CofE of “jumping on any fashionable train about identity politics, cultural correctness and mea culpas about Britain’s imperial past.”
The 72-year-old has now joined the Catholic Ordinariate, created in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI to admit Anglicans into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
Married father of two Michael Nazir-Ali was the Bishop of Rochester from 1994 to 2009
dr. Nazir-Ali, 72, has been married to Valerie since 1972 and they have two grown sons
He was received by Monsignor Keith Newton and will in due course be ordained to the Catholic priesthood for the Ordinariate, with the permission of the Holy See.
Today said Dr. Nazir-Ali: ‘I believe that the Anglican desire to cling to the apostolic, patristic and conciliar teachings is now best maintained in the ordinariate.
What is the Ordinariate and why was it founded?
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI established the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in 2011 to enable Anglicans to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
Converts who join the ordinariate are allowed to maintain a number of Anglican liturgy and traditions, and it has the full support of Pope Francis.
Many of the early converts are said to have felt increasingly isolated since the Church of England decided in 1992 to ordain women as priests. They became disenchanted with the liberal teachings of the Anglican Church.
In 2012, Benedict XVI donated £150,000 to the Ordinariate, which was put into a fund to buy houses of worship and provide allowances for priests.
The Ordinariate takes its name from an 11th-century vision of a woman in Walsingham, Norfolk, who claimed that the Virgin Mary spirit led her to Nazareth to see the place where an angel told her she would give birth to a son.
Benedict XVI surprised Catholic and Anglican leaders in England in October 2009 when he informed them of his announcement that he was creating the ordinariate.
Provisions there to protect the legitimate Anglican heritage are very encouraging and I believe such heritage in its liturgy, approaches to Bible study, pastoral devotion to the community, methods of moral theology and much more the wider Church.
“I look forward to receiving the riches of other parts of the Church, while perhaps making a modest contribution to the maintenance and enhancement of Anglican heritage within the wider community.
“The ministry in the Church of Pakistan, in the Middle East in general, in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion remains precious to me and I see this as a further step in the ministry of our common Lord and His people. Right now I ask for prayer as I continue to pray for all parts of the Church.”
dr. Nazir-Ali had previously spoken out about CofE’s response to scrap culture and awaken problems, criticizing its failure to cater for parishes.
In February he wrote in the Daily Telegraph: ‘However, the institution seems to be engaged in either lengthy, costly and far-fetched ‘protective’ allegations against prominent church figures, or in jumping on every fashionable bandwagon about identity politics, cultural correctness and mea culpas about Britain’s imperial past.’
In 2008, he claimed that radical Islam filled the moral vacuum created by the decline of Christian virtues and dated the demise of Christianity from the “social and sexual revolution” of the 1960s, saying that this was the British society had been devastated.
He said the “newfangled and insecurely founded” doctrine of multiculturalism had left immigrant communities “separate, living parallel lives.”
dr. Nazir-Ali was a respected academic within CofE and has won academic awards, including from the universities of Karachi, Oxford and Cambridge.
He cannot be ordained a Catholic bishop because he is married, but he is very knowledgeable about the denomination because he was raised by Catholics as a child in Karachi.
His conversion to Catholicism is considered the most significant since Graham Leonard, the former Bishop of London, was admitted to the Church in 1994.
dr. Nazir-Ali was a respected academic and researcher within the Church of England
dr. Nazir-Ali with the Queen at Wolferton Church on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk in 1998
Monsignor Newton said today: ‘Since its founding in 2011, Michael has always taken a keen interest in the development of the Ordinariate in the UK.
“Those of us who serve the Catholic Church within the ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham welcome his reception in full communion and imminent ordination.
He brings with him a wonderful experience of Anglican Communion and is in a unique place to articulate that Anglican heritage, described by Pope Benedict XVI as a treasure to be shared, which now holds a place of honor in the Universal Church. ‘
The CoF consists of 42 independent dioceses and more than 12,500 parishes. The Catholic Church of England and Wales has five provinces, divided into 22 dioceses.