Anglican bishops make history as first ordained Catholic priests


THREE FORMER Anglican bishops made history at the weekend by becoming the first to be ordained Catholic priest members of a new “ordinariate’’ set up by the Vatican.

Former Church of England bishops, Keith Newton, John Broadhurst and Andrew Burnham, were ordained by Catholic Archbishop Vincent Nichols at Westminster Cathedral in London on Saturday.

The Archbishop told them “many ordinations have take place in this cathedral during the 100 years of its history. But none quite like this. Today is a unique occasion marking a new step in the life and history of the Catholic Church.’’ He continued that “this morning the establishment of the first personal ordinariate under the provision of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibushas been announced in our hearing.’’

Archbishop Nichols thanked members of the Church of England for offering their prayers and good wishes to the newly ordained Catholic priests. He said “first among these is Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury, with his characteristic insight, and generosity of heart and spirit”.

The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham follows the Anglicanorum coetibusdocument issued by Pope Benedict on November 4th, 2009, and which will enable such people to preserve within the Catholic Church elements of Anglican prayer, liturgy and pastoral practice which are in accordance with Catholic teaching.

It was set up by Rome to accommodate those Anglicans and their clergy who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church and who have become disaffected with their own Communion or Church over issues such as the ordination of women, female bishops, homosexual clergy and the recognition of same-sex unions.

Last summer the Church of England voted to go ahead with legislation to consecrate women bishops. As many as 50 Anglican clergy are expected to join the new ordinariate as well as two retired Church of England bishops.