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World

Pakistan-born Anglican bishop converts to Catholic Church

Michael Nazir-Ali is the third Anglican bishop to become a Catholic this year and the fourth in just two years

Simon Caldwell, Catholic News Service

Simon Caldwell, Catholic News Service

Published: October 18, 2021 09:31 AM GMT

Updated: October 18, 2021 09:38 AM GMT

Pakistan-born Anglican bishop converts to Catholic Church

Former Anglican bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who has joined the Catholic Church. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Pakistan-born Michael Nazir-Ali, a prominent Anglican bishop, has joined the Catholic Church and will be ordained as a priest at the end of October.

Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Anglican bishop of Rochester, England, was received into the Church on Sept. 29 by Msgr. Keith Newton, head of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was established in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI for the corporate reception of Anglican communities.

He will be ordained as a deacon by Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham on Oct. 28 and ordained as a priest for the ordinariate by Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster on Oct. 30.

The married father of two retired from Rochester in 2009 and since 2010 has served as the visiting bishop of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina in the United States.

Nazir-Ali is the first former Anglican diocesan bishop — rather than a suffragan or "flying" bishop — to join the Catholic Church since Bishop Graham Leonard of London and Bishop Richard Rutt of Leicester were received into the Catholic faith in 1994.

In a statement posted on Oct. 14 on the website of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, Nazir-Ali said: "I believe that the Anglican desire to adhere to apostolic, patristic and conciliar teaching can now best be maintained in the ordinariate.

I am looking forward to receiving from the riches of other parts of the Church

"Provisions there to safeguard legitimate Anglican patrimony are very encouraging, and I believe that such patrimony — in its liturgy, approaches to biblical study, pastoral commitment to the community, methods of moral theology and much else besides — has a great deal to offer the wider Church.

"I am looking forward to receiving from the riches of other parts of the Church."

Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury said in an Oct. 14 statement that he was grateful for the bishop's "decades of devoted service" and said his expertise in evangelism, interfaith dialogue, ecumenism and theological education "will continue to be a blessing to the global church."

Nazir-Ali, 72, was once regarded as a potential leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion. In 2002, the UK media reported his was one of two names submitted to then-prime minister Tony Blair as a possible successor to Archbishop George Carey of Canterbury.

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He served for many years as a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission and of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission.

He is the third Anglican bishop to become a Catholic this year and the fourth in just two years.

Jonathan Goodall, the former "flying" bishop of Ebbsfleet, stepped down from office in September to become a Catholic following a period of reflection which, he said, was "among the most testing periods of my life."

In May, John Goddard, a former bishop of Burnley, was received into the Catholic Church in Liverpool, while Gavin Ashenden, a former royal chaplain to the queen, was received into the Catholic faith at Christmas 2019.

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