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Former Anglican Bishop, Michael Nazir-Ali to become Catholic priest

by Donna Birrell

The former Anglican Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali has been received into the Catholic Church ahead of being ordained to the Catholic priesthood. 

He is part of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham which was established ten years ago by Pope Benedict XVI for Anglicans seeking full communion with the See of Peter. Since then, several Anglican clergy, many of them married, have been serving as Catholic priests.

Dr Nazir-Ali, who was born in Pakistan in 1949, has both British and Pakistani citizenship and was considered to be the Church of England's leading authority on Islam. 

He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1976 and served in England and Pakistan before being consecrated Bishop of Raiwind in 1984. He was the General Secretary of the Church Missionary Society (1989-94) before his appointment as Bishop of Rochester in 1994. He resigned as Bishop of Rochester in 2009.

Since then he has been Director of OXTRAD: Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy & Dialogue. OXTRAD's mission is to prepare Christians for ministry in situations where the Church is under pressure and in danger of persecution.

Dr Nazir-Ali, who is married with two adult sons, is strongly opposed to euthanasia and abortion and holds conservative views on sexual morality.

He was received into the full communion of the Catholic Church by Monsignor Keith Newton on the Feast of St Michael and All Angels. With the permission of the Holy See, he will be ordained to the Catholic priesthood for the Ordinariate in due course.

Commenting on his reception, Dr 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. 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, while perhaps making a modest contribution to the maintenance and enhancement of Anglican patrimony within the wider fellowship.

"Ministry in the Church of Pakistan, in the Middle East generally, 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 of his people. At this time, I ask for prayers as I continue to pray for all parts of the Church."

Monsignor Newton, the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, said:

"Since its erection in 2011 Michael has always shown great interest in the development of the Ordinariate in the United Kingdom. Those of us who serve the Catholic Church within the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are delighted at his reception into full communion and forthcoming ordination. He brings a great experience of the Anglican Communion and is in a unique place to articulate that Anglican patrimony, described by Pope Benedict XVI as a treasure to be shared, which now has an honoured place in the Universal Church."

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