Friday, February 09, 2007
Former Anglican Clergymen
former Bishop of London who later became a Catholic and is now a Catholic priest.
This morning I had a very interesting meeting at Archbishop's House about the procedures to be followed when a married, former Anglican clergyman asks to be considered for priesthood. In recent years Southwark, along with probably all the dioceses in this country, has been greatly enriched by the presence of convert Anglican clergymen. To facilitate their ordination as Catholic priests Rome gave a special permission for a committee of English bishops to review each case and send their recommendations to the Holy See. I had no idea of what the procedures were and was very grateful to have it all explained to me by one of my predecessors as Vocations Director.
Sometimes people question the appropriateness of ordaining married men as Catholic priests. I would make three points. First of all, there is nothing new in this: Easter Rite Catholic Churches have long since ordained married men. Secondly, permission has been given in cases such as this since the days of Pius XII. Thirdly we are talking about men who entered ministry sincerely believing that they were following God's will as regards their vocation. Only later, and sometimes very painfully, have they come to the realisation that the ecclesial body in which they ministered did not enjoy the fulness of Christianity which subsists within the Catholic Church. It seems entirely apropriate therefore, that the Church in her maternal compassion, and after careful consideration, should allow some the possibility of ordination and ministry within the Catholic Church.