Once considered for the highest office in the Anglican Church, the former bishop becomes Catholic


Michael Nazir-Ali had criticized what he saw as political correctness and identity politics within the Anglican Church.

A prominent Anglican bishop who was once considered a possible Archbishop of Canterbury has become a Catholic.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, England, was received into the Church on September 29 and will be ordained a Catholic priest by the end of this month.

Nazir-Ali’s decision follows the resignation last month of Bishop Jonathan Goodall of Ebbsfleet, England, to become Catholic. Nazir-Ali, 72, joined the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, a community of former Anglicans who professed their loyalty to Rome. The Ordinariate said it was “happy to announce” that Nazir-Ali “has been received into the full communion of the Catholic Church” by Mgr. Keith Newton, the head of the ordinariate. “With the permission of the Holy See, he will be ordained a Catholic priest for the ordinariate in due course. “

The Ordinariate was created by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011 to allow Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church as groups rather than individually, and to do so without giving up their Anglican traditions and heritage. Nazir-Ali told the BBC that the Ordinariate “brings together this relationship with the Catholic Church at large, but also allows us to continue our Anglican way of worship, of preaching, of study”.

Many former Anglicans who join the Ordinariate are married clergymen, and Nazir-Ali is no exception. He and his wife Valérie have been married for 49 years and have two sons.

Apostolic Tradition

He told the BBC that he sees his time in the Catholic Church as “a fulfillment of the Anglican desire … to be faithful to the teaching of the Apostles, the Fathers of the Church, what the ancient Councils taught”. While there are “many virtues” in Anglicanism, such as beauty in worship, Bible study, and “a pastoral commitment to the whole community rather than the single congregation,” l The Church of England is also plagued by “a lack of a sense of belonging to a global and universal body, where decisions that affect everyone are made by everyone and not unilaterally by part of the Church or another, ”he said.

In an editorial by Daily mail this week, he lamented the fact that the Anglican Church has become “a fragmented, loose collection of churches, many of which have conflicting interpretations of Christianity.” Even when the Church does manage to come to an agreement on things, those decisions don’t seem to carry much weight – people go and do it their own way.

Church councils and synods are “steeped in activists who each have a unique, often fashionable agenda, be it cultural rectitude, ‘climate change’, identity politics, multiculturalism (which actually encourages communities to live apart) or critical theory of race, religion and gender – a neo-Marxist theory developed to create conflict by dividing people into victims and villains, ”Nazir complained -Ali.

“Too often, I have felt alone, at odds with the Church,” he lamented. “Sometimes it’s better to have the wind at your back than to constantly fight against it.”

He argued that the Church must do more to stand up for Christians around the world. “I have worked with persecuted Christians in countries like Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Syria and have been closely involved in the case of Asia Bibi, the Christian accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death. in Pakistan, ”he said. While the Church of England “was not very loud” in Bibi’s case, the Catholic Church “played a major role in securing his release.”

“I hope that becoming an Ordinary Catholic will allow me to support Christians closer to home who are marginalized and hunted down by a liberal totalitarianism that demands total consensus,” he said. “I am constantly involved in situations where people have lost their jobs because of their Christian beliefs – registrars who do not want to register marriages contrary to their conscience, midwives who do not want to participate in abortions or nurses fired for carrying a crucifix.

From a distant land

Born in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1949, into a family of both Muslims and Christians, Michael James Nazir-Ali attended Catholic schools and Catholic masses in his youth. He began to identify as a Christian at the age of 15 and was officially received into the Anglican Church five years later.

Ordained an Anglican priest in 1976, after studying at Cambridge and Oxford, he first served in Karachi and Lahore. In 1984, he was appointed bishop of Raiwind in western Punjab. When his life was in danger in Pakistan, the then Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie organized his refuge in England. The young bishop became assistant to the Archbishop of Canterbury in Lambeth and was secretary general of the Church Mission Society 1989-1994. In 1994 he was appointed Bishop of Rochester, England, and in 1999 entered the House of Lords as one of the “Spiritual Lords” due to his seniority in episcopal office.

From 1997 to 2003, Nazir-Ali was Chairman of the Ethics and Law Committee of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority. He led the Anglican Communion Network for Interfaith Concerns and led the Anglican Dialogue with Al-Azhar Islamic University in Egypt. For many years he was a member of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission (ARCIC) and, later, of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM).

When he left his post as Bishop of Rochester after 15 years, a spokesperson said he was doing so in the hope of working “with a number of Church leaders from areas where the Church is under pressure, especially in minority situations, who have asked him to help them with education and training for their particular situation.

Nazir-Ali is president of the Oxford Center for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue (OXTRAD), which trains missionaries for situations where the Church is in danger in the world.

He has also served as Visiting Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina in the United States. The diocese is part of the Anglican Church in North America, which is not an Anglican Communion church.

The Ordinariate

In 2014, Greg Daly from Aleteia reported Nazir-Ali saying that the Catholic Church has “both a great opportunity and also a great responsibility” to speak out against the wave of Islamic activism and the worldwide persecution of Christians. Many people, he said, including evangelicals with no historical affection for the Catholic Church, look to Rome for leadership.

Nazir-Ali made the comments in London during a speech on “A Global Christianity in the Making” at the plenary session of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham – the diocese to which he now belongs as a Catholic.

Explaining at the 2014 conference how he hoped the Anglican heritage that Rome had recognized would continue to thrive, Nazir-Ali said such recognitions should not be an exception, but could instead be “a charter for the future.” . He argued that the diversity of the world’s cultures meant that a truly Catholic Church had to be open to varied expressions of faith from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and that the Church had to do more than recognize the distinct cultures of Christianity. Oriental.

“The Church must change its approach,” he said. “He must not capitulate to culture nor destroy any culture. Instead, he must take into account Pope Benedict’s argument: that the role of the Church is to allow culture to find its true center. “

In this week’s Daily Mail editorial, Nazir-Ali said he was “excited about the opportunities that membership in the Ordinariate will bring: to defend human rights and to help millions of suffering Christians and others around the world. The Catholic Church is a truly united world organization, which gives it strength.

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