January 15th, 2011
09:20 PM ET

Former Anglican bishops ordained as Catholic priests in new program

Marking a new era for the Roman Catholic Church in England, three former Anglican bishops were ordained as Catholic priests in London on Saturday, the first to take advantage of a new Vatican program that makes it easier for dissatisfied Anglicans to enter Catholicism.

"Many ordinations have taken place in this Cathedral during the 100 years of its history," said Westminster Archbishop Vincent Nichols Saturday at Westminster Cathedral. "But none quite like this."

"Today is a unique occasion marking a new step in the life and history of the Catholic Church," he said at the ordination ceremony.

Announced in 2009, the Catholic Church program enables Anglicans to become Catholic and recognize the pope as their leader, yet have parishes that retain Anglican rites, Vatican officials have said.

The move came some 450 years after King Henry VIII broke from Rome and created the Church of England, forerunner of the Anglican Communion.

The parishes will be led by former Anglican clergy - including those who are married - who could be ordained as Catholic priests, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The move comes as some conservative Anglicans are taking issue with their church's increasingly progressive stances on issues like women bishops and homosexuality.

"This journey, of course, involves some sad parting of friends," Nichols said Saturday, acknowledging the new rift among Anglicans. "This, too, we recognize and it strengthens the warmth of our welcome."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Anglican • Catholic Church • Europe • United Kingdom

soundoff (257 Responses)
  1. seminn

    I thought we are all Brothers and Sisters of Christ? How can one consider a christian of another denomination is not recognized or brought to the fullness of the eternal life if they are not in total union with the Catholic Faith. Jesus spoke of other churches but one faith and we had better understand this and except some unity.

    April 23, 2011 at 12:53 am |
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