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. Benigno

    Finally, the command of Jesus is slowly coming back, " let them be one Father, as you and I are one." It has never made sense to me why there are thousands of different Christian churches in the U.S

    January 16, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • Ktusoon

      It makes perfect sense to me. When you're making up stuff as you go along, anyone else can also make up stuff as they go along and–in an environment of faith (the absence of anything approaching the scientific method)–everyone's made-up beliefs seem equally valid, respectively.

      January 16, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • What

      God saw how well his first book did and he followed thru with what any good author would do......Sequels!!!

      January 16, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  2. What

    This reminds me of how Zelda always has to save the princess.

    January 15, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  3. Ktusoon

    "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."

    This is what we call radical change in organized religion–something equivalent to the Pope deciding to switch to soy milk from his usual dairy.

    January 15, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  4. Alex

    Wow, I see a bunch of hateful bigots have shown up tonight. Saying that Catholics are all pedophiles because of a few bad priests is like saying Americans are all pedophiles because those same priests were U.S. citizens. Their sins went against the core teachings of the church and the laws of the U.S., so I don't think it is fair to make categorical statements about either.

    January 15, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • What

      You are 100% correct. These Godless bigots are way out of line to even suggest such a thing. Just because statistics say that a certain group is more prone to touching little boys does not make it true. ALL OF YOU GODLESS FOOLS NEED MORE FAITH AND LESS FACT!!!

      January 15, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • Leslie

      Alex is right. People love to jump in and imply that all Catholic priests are pedophiles, when that is nowhere near the truth. Did horrible things happen? Yes. Did *parts* of the church handle it badly, partly out of ignorance, and partly to cover it up for self-protection? They sure did. But people want to paint evil with broad strokes when the truth is not nearly so simple. Let me make clear that I am in NO WAY defending the perverts or those who enabled them. However, I have know several good priests who have not and would never do such a thing.

      Are all camp counselors and scout masters and teachers cast as pedophiles? No. If you think pedophilia is all that the Catholic Church is about, you might want to educate yourselves. There are thousands of schools, hospitals, clinics, AIDS centers, family shelters, food pantries and other social services run by Catholics – priest, sisters, and laity. Catholic Relief Services is one of the highest rated agencies for coming into areas after natural disasters and offering help. Perhaps the people who choose to leave the Anglican church are able to see what you choose not to, "What." And for the record...I say this as someone who is not all that happy with the Catholic Church myself, but I don't have to trash everyone in it to make myself feel superior.

      January 16, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • asrael

      A "few" bad priests? Protected by a "few" bishops...? It hurts to laugh...

      January 16, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  5. Tiffany TX

    Matthew D., I'm assuming that you're referring to Henry VIII as the murderer and hereditary monarch. And you're right, if not a little redundant. But you defend a Christian sect that is liable for far more murders with far less justification for them than Henry. The Catholic church has so much blood on it's hands as to be permanently stained. While Henry broke away, more for lust than religious dogma, he was simply taking advantage of the growing trend started by Luther which revolted against the abuses of the Catholic clan, and headed by some of the most vile, bloodthirsty, greedy, and truly unChristian men ever. How many Medicis and Borgias were Popes again? People who live in glass and gold churches shouldn't throw stones.

    January 15, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Tiffany TX,
      Here is a list of all the Popes for you................hopefully you will enjoy reading about their lives.
      1. St. Peter (32-67)
      2. St. Linus (67-76)
      3. St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88)
      4. St. Clement I (88-97)
      5. St. Evaristus (97-105)
      6. St. Alexander I (105-115)
      7. St. Sixtus I (115-125) Also called Xystus I
      8. St. Telesphorus (125-136)
      9. St. Hyginus (136-140)
      10. St. Pius I (140-155)
      11. St. Anicetus (155-166)
      12. St. Soter (166-175)
      13. St. Eleutherius (175-189)
      14. St. Victor I (189-199)
      15. St. Zephyrinus (199-217)
      16. St. Callistus I (217-22) Callistus and the following three popes were opposed by St. Hippolytus, antipope (217-236)
      17. St. Urban I (222-30)
      18. St. Pontain (230-35)
      19. St. Anterus (235-36)
      20. St. Fabian (236-50)
      21. St. Cornelius (251-53) Opposed by Novatian, antipope (251)
      22. St. Lucius I (253-54)
      23. St. Stephen I (254-257)
      24. St. Sixtus II (257-258)
      25. St. Dionysius (260-268)
      26. St. Felix I (269-274)
      27. St. Eutychian (275-283)
      28. St. Caius (283-296) Also called Gaius
      29. St. Marcellinus (296-304)
      30. St. Marcellus I (308-309)
      31. St. Eusebius (309 or 310)
      32. St. Miltiades (311-14)
      33. St. Sylvester I (314-35)
      34. St. Marcus (336)
      35. St. Julius I (337-52)
      36. Liberius (352-66) Opposed by Felix II, antipope (355-365)
      37. St. Damasus I (366-83) Opposed by Ursicinus, antipope (366-367)
      38. St. Siricius (384-99)
      39. St. Anastasius I (399-401)
      40. St. Innocent I (401-17)
      41. St. Zosimus (417-18)
      42. St. Boniface I (418-22) Opposed by Eulalius, antipope (418-419)
      43. St. Celestine I (422-32)
      44. St. Sixtus III (432-40)
      45. St. Leo I (the Great) (440-61)
      46. St. Hilarius (461-68)
      47. St. Simplicius (468-83)
      48. St. Felix III (II) (483-92)
      49. St. Gelasius I (492-96)
      50. Anastasius II (496-98)
      51. St. Symmachus (498-514) Opposed by Laurentius, antipope (498-501)
      52. St. Hormisdas (514-23)
      53. St. John I (523-26)
      54. St. Felix IV (III) (526-30)
      55. Boniface II (530-32) Opposed by Dioscorus, antipope (530)
      56. John II (533-35)
      57. St. Agapetus I (535-36) Also called Agapitus I
      58. St. Silverius (536-37)
      59. Vigilius (537-55)
      60. Pelagius I (556-61)
      61. John III (561-74)
      62. Benedict I (575-79)
      63. Pelagius II (579-90)
      64. St. Gregory I (the Great) (590-604)
      65. Sabinian (604-606)
      66. Boniface III (607)
      67. St. Boniface IV (608-15)
      68. St. Deusdedit (Adeodatus I) (615-18)
      69. Boniface V (619-25)
      70. Honorius I (625-38)
      71. Severinus (640)
      72. John IV (640-42)
      73. Theodore I (642-49)
      74. St. Martin I (649-55)
      75. St. Eugene I (655-57)
      76. St. Vitalian (657-72)
      77. Adeodatus (II) (672-76)
      78. Donus (676-78)
      79. St. Agatho (678-81)
      80. St. Leo II (682-83)
      81. St. Benedict II (684-85)
      82. John V (685-86)
      83. Conon (686-87)
      84. St. Sergius I (687-701) Opposed by Theodore and Paschal, antipopes (687)
      85. John VI (701-05)
      86. John VII (705-07)
      87. Sisinnius (708)
      88. Constantine (708-15)
      89. St. Gregory II (715-31)
      90. St. Gregory III (731-41)
      91. St. Zachary (741-52)
      92. Stephen II (752) Because he died before being consecrated, many authoritative lists omit him
      93. Stephen III (752-57)
      94. St. Paul I (757-67)
      95. Stephen IV (767-72) Opposed by Constantine II (767) and Philip (768), antipopes (767)
      96. Adrian I (772-95)
      97. St. Leo III (795-816)
      98. Stephen V (816-17)
      99. St. Paschal I (817-24)
      100. Eugene II (824-27)
      101. Valentine (827)
      102. Gregory IV (827-44)
      103. Sergius II (844-47) Opposed by John, antipope (855)
      104. St. Leo IV (847-55)
      105. Benedict III (855-58) Opposed by Anastasius, antipope (855)
      106. St. Nicholas I (the Great) (858-67)
      107. Adrian II (867-72)
      108. John VIII (872-82)
      109. Marinus I (882-84)
      110. St. Adrian III (884-85)
      111. Stephen VI (885-91)
      112. Formosus (891-96)
      113. Boniface VI (896)
      114. Stephen VII (896-97)
      115. Romanus (897)
      116. Theodore II (897)
      117. John IX (898-900)
      118. Benedict IV (900-03)
      119. Leo V (903) Opposed by Christopher, antipope (903-904)
      120. Sergius III (904-11)
      121. Anastasius III (911-13)
      122. Lando (913-14)
      123. John X (914-28)
      124. Leo VI (928)
      125. Stephen VIII (929-31)
      126. John XI (931-35)
      127. Leo VII (936-39)
      128. Stephen IX (939-42)
      129. Marinus II (942-46)
      130. Agapetus II (946-55)
      131. John XII (955-63)
      132. Leo VIII (963-64)
      133. Benedict V (964)
      134. John XIII (965-72)
      135. Benedict VI (973-74)
      136. Benedict VII (974-83) Benedict and John XIV were opposed by Boniface VII, antipope (974; 984-985)
      137. John XIV (983-84)
      138. John XV (985-96)
      139. Gregory V (996-99) Opposed by John XVI, antipope (997-998)
      140. Sylvester II (999-1003)
      141. John XVII (1003)
      142. John XVIII (1003-09)
      143. Sergius IV (1009-12)
      144. Benedict VIII (1012-24) Opposed by Gregory, antipope (1012)
      145. John XIX (1024-32)
      146. Benedict IX (1032-45) He appears on this list three separate times, because he was twice deposed and restored
      147. Sylvester III (1045) Considered by some to be an antipope
      148. Benedict IX (1045)
      149. Gregory VI (1045-46)
      150. Clement II (1046-47)
      151. Benedict IX (1047-48)
      152. Damasus II (1048)
      153. St. Leo IX (1049-54)
      154. Victor II (1055-57)
      155. Stephen X (1057-58)
      156. Nicholas II (1058-61) Opposed by Benedict X, antipope (1058)
      157. Alexander II (1061-73) Opposed by Honorius II, antipope (1061-1072)
      158. St. Gregory VII (1073-85) Gregory and the following three popes were opposed by Guibert ("Clement III"), antipope (1080-1100)
      159. Blessed Victor III (1086-87)
      160. Blessed Urban II (1088-99)
      161. Paschal II (1099-1118) Opposed by Theodoric (1100), Aleric (1102) and Maginulf ("Sylvester IV", 1105-1111), antipopes (1100)
      162. Gelasius II (1118-19) Opposed by Burdin ("Gregory VIII"), antipope (1118)
      163. Callistus II (1119-24)
      164. Honorius II (1124-30) Opposed by Celestine II, antipope (1124)
      165. Innocent II (1130-43) Opposed by Anacletus II (1130-1138) and Gregory Conti ("Victor IV") (1138), antipopes (1138)
      166. Celestine II (1143-44)
      167. Lucius II (1144-45)
      168. Blessed Eugene III (1145-53)
      169. Anastasius IV (1153-54)
      170. Adrian IV (1154-59)
      171. Alexander III (1159-81) Opposed by Octavius ("Victor IV") (1159-1164), Pascal III (1165-1168), Callistus III (1168-1177) and Innocent III (1178-1180), antipopes
      172. Lucius III (1181-85)
      173. Urban III (1185-87)
      174. Gregory VIII (1187)
      175. Clement III (1187-91)
      176. Celestine III (1191-98)
      177. Innocent III (1198-1216)
      178. Honorius III (1216-27)
      179. Gregory IX (1227-41)
      180. Celestine IV (1241)
      181. Innocent IV (1243-54)
      182. Alexander IV (1254-61)
      183. Urban IV (1261-64)
      184. Clement IV (1265-68)
      185. Blessed Gregory X (1271-76)
      186. Blessed Innocent V (1276)
      187. Adrian V (1276)
      188. John XXI (1276-77)
      189. Nicholas III (1277-80)
      190. Martin IV (1281-85)
      191. Honorius IV (1285-87)
      192. Nicholas IV (1288-92)
      193. St. Celestine V (1294)
      194. Boniface VIII (1294-1303)
      195. Blessed Benedict XI (1303-04)
      196. Clement V (1305-14)
      197. John XXII (1316-34) Opposed by Nicholas V, antipope (1328-1330)
      198. Benedict XII (1334-42)
      199. Clement VI (1342-52)
      200. Innocent VI (1352-62)
      201. Blessed Urban V (1362-70)
      202. Gregory XI (1370-78)
      203. Urban VI (1378-89) Opposed by Robert of Geneva ("Clement VII"), antipope (1378-1394)
      204. Boniface IX (1389-1404) Opposed by Robert of Geneva ("Clement VII") (1378-1394), Pedro de Luna ("Benedict XIII") (1394-1417) and Baldassare Cossa ("John XXIII") (1400-1415), antipopes
      205. Innocent VII (1404-06) Opposed by Pedro de Luna ("Benedict XIII") (1394-1417) and Baldassare Cossa ("John XXIII") (1400-1415), antipopes
      206. Gregory XII (1406-15) Opposed by Pedro de Luna ("Benedict XIII") (1394-1417), Baldassare Cossa ("John XXIII") (1400-1415), and Pietro Philarghi ("Alexander V") (1409-1410), antipopes
      207. Martin V (1417-31)
      208. Eugene IV (1431-47) Opposed by Amadeus of Savoy ("Felix V"), antipope (1439-1449)
      209. Nicholas V (1447-55)
      210. Callistus III (1455-58)
      211. Pius II (1458-64)
      212. Paul II (1464-71)
      213. Sixtus IV (1471-84)
      214. Innocent VIII (1484-92)
      215. Alexander VI (1492-1503)
      216. Pius III (1503)
      217. Julius II (1503-13)
      218. Leo X (1513-21)
      219. Adrian VI (1522-23)
      220. Clement VII (1523-34)
      221. Paul III (1534-49)
      222. Julius III (1550-55)
      223. Marcellus II (1555)
      224. Paul IV (1555-59)
      225. Pius IV (1559-65)
      226. St. Pius V (1566-72)
      227. Gregory XIII (1572-85)
      228. Sixtus V (1585-90)
      229. Urban VII (1590)
      230. Gregory XIV (1590-91)
      231. Innocent IX (1591)
      232. Clement VIII (1592-1605)
      233. Leo XI (1605)
      234. Paul V (1605-21)
      235. Gregory XV (1621-23)
      236. Urban VIII (1623-44)
      237. Innocent X (1644-55)
      238. Alexander VII (1655-67)
      239. Clement IX (1667-69)
      240. Clement X (1670-76)
      241. Blessed Innocent XI (1676-89)
      242. Alexander VIII (1689-91)
      243. Innocent XII (1691-1700)
      244. Clement XI (1700-21)
      245. Innocent XIII (1721-24)
      246. Benedict XIII (1724-30)
      247. Clement XII (1730-40)
      248. Benedict XIV (1740-58)
      249. Clement XIII (1758-69)
      250. Clement XIV (1769-74)
      251. Pius VI (1775-99)
      252. Pius VII (1800-23)
      253. Leo XII (1823-29)
      254. Pius VIII (1829-30)
      255. Gregory XVI (1831-46)
      256. Blessed Pius IX (1846-78)
      257. Leo XIII (1878-1903)
      258. St. Pius X (1903-14)
      259. Benedict XV (1914-22) Biographies of Benedict XV and his successors will be added at a later date
      260. Pius XI (1922-39)
      261. Pius XII (1939-58)
      262. Blessed John XXIII (1958-63)
      263. Paul VI (1963-78)
      264. John Paul I (1978)
      265. John Paul II (1978-2005)
      266. Benedict XVI (2005—)

      January 16, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Catholic Mom,

      How could Peter be a pope when he was married (Jesus healed his mother in law)? When did those rules change?

      January 16, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Steve (the real one),

      Yes, the Bible tells of Peter’s mother-in-law and how she was healed and got up and served them. The other thing this verse tells us is his wife was not present in the house otherwise she would have been the one serving them as was the custom in those days.
      It is tradition that Peter’s wife was martyred.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • Steve (the real one)

      1. Whose house were they in? If it was the mother in law's house, She would be the server
      2. Why would Peter's wife be martyred? She was not included in the disciples! She was not tasked with spreading the gospel! Peter was! There is NO indication she was martyred!

      January 17, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Steve (the real one),
      If his wife wasn’t with him she may have already been martyred. Yes, Church Tradition says that she may have been martyred.

      January 18, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  6. Cedar rapids

    So funny that these guys left because they disagreed with the pro-women, pro-gay stance but obviously had no issues with being bishops in a religion founded by a king because he wanted a divorce and the pope said no. lol.

    January 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  7. Maplewood

    Ah Matthew, I for one am glad you know how to let others think for you. Is a true church one that requires that you check your brains at the door? The original Christian Church was a loose organization of 5 communities of Christians. This worked well until the Bishop of Rome decided he was superior to the others and broke away to form his cult of personality admiration society, as in "All Hail the Pope". The one true church is the catholic (as in universal with a small c) church, not the hallucinations of latin misogynists and pedophiles.

    January 15, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • jhg

      the mother of the harlots and the disgusting things of the earth (Rev.17:5) cannot be the one true anything except satan's tool so read and follow Rev.18:4

      January 15, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      Seems you are misinformed about the Catholic Church which is the Church that Jesus Christ founded.

      How Did the Catholic Church Get Her Name?

      by Kenneth D. Whitehead

      The Creed which we recite on Sundays and holy days speaks of one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. As everybody knows, however, the Church referred to in this Creed is more commonly called just the Catholic Church. It is not, by the way, properly called the Roman Catholic Church, but simply the Catholic Church.

      The term Roman Catholic is not used by the Church herself; it is a relatively modern term, and one, moreover, that is confined largely to the English language. The English-speaking bishops at the First Vatican Council in 1870, in fact, conducted a vigorous and successful campaign to insure that the term Roman Catholic was nowhere included in any of the Council's official docu-ments about the Church herself, and the term was not included.

      Similarly, nowhere in the 16 docu-ments of the Second Vatican Council will you find the term Roman Catholic. Pope Paul VI signed all the docu-ments of the Second Vatican Council as "I, Paul. Bishop of the Catholic Church." Simply that - Catholic Church. There are references to the Roman curia, the Roman missal, the Roman rite, etc., but when the adjective Roman is applied to the Church herself, it refers to the Diocese of Rome!

      Cardinals, for example, are called cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, but that designation means that when they are named to be cardinals they have thereby become honorary clergy of the Holy Father's home diocese, the Diocese of Rome. Each cardinal is given a t!tular church in Rome, and when the cardinals participate in the election of a new pope they are participating in a process that in ancient times was carried out by the clergy of the Diocese of Rome.

      Although the Diocese of Rome is central to the Catholic Church, this does not mean that the Roman rite, or, as is sometimes said, the Latin rite, is co-terminus with the Church as a whole; that would mean neglecting the Byzantine, Chaldean, Maronite or other Oriental rites which are all very much part of the Catholic Church today, as in the past.

      In our day, much greater emphasis has been given to these "non-Roman" rites of the Catholic Church. The Second Vatican Council devoted a special docu-ment, Orientalium Ecclesiarum (Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches), to the Eastern rites which belong to the Catholic Church, and the new Catechism of the Catholic Church similarly gives considerable attention to the distinctive traditions and spirituality of these Eastern rites.

      So the proper name for the universal Church is not the Roman Catholic Church. Far from it. That term caught on mostly in English-speaking countries; it was promoted mostly by Anglicans, supporters of the "branch theory" of the Church, namely, that the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the creed was supposed to consist of three major branches, the Anglican, the Orthodox and the so-called Roman Catholic. It was to avoid that kind of interpretation that the English-speaking bishops at Vatican I suc-ceeded in warning the Church away from ever using the term officially herself: It too easily could be misunderstood.
      Today in an era of widespread dis-sent in the Church, and of equally widespread confusion regarding what authentic Catholic ident!ty is supposed to consist of, many loyal Catholics have recently taken to using the term Roman Catholic in order to affirm their understanding that the Catholic Church of the Sunday creed is the same Church that is united with the Vicar of Christ in Rome, the Pope. This understanding of theirs is correct, but such Catholics should nevertheless beware of using the term, not only because of its dubious origins in Anglican circles intending to suggest that there just might be some other Catholic Church around somewhere besides the Roman one: but also because it often still is used today to suggest that the Roman Catholic Church is something other and lesser than the Catholic Church of the creed. It is commonly used by some dis-senting theologians, for example, who appear to be attempting to categorize the Roman Catholic Church as just another contemporary "Christian denomination"–not the body that is identical with the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the creed.

      The proper name of the Church, then, is the Catholic Church. It is not ever called "the Christian Church," either. Although the prestigious Oxford University Press currently publishes a learned and rather useful reference book called "The Oxford Book of the Christian Church," the fact is that there has never been a major ent!ty in history called by that name; the Oxford University Press has adopted a misnomer, for the Church of Christ has never been called the Christian Church.

      There is, of course, a Protestant denomination in the United States which does call itself by that name, but that particular denomination is hardly what the Oxford University Press had in mind when as-signing to its reference book the t!tle that it did. The as-signment of the t!tle in question appears to have been one more method, of which there have been so many down through history, of declining to admit that there is, in fact, one–and only one—ent!ty existing in the world today to which the designation "the Catholic Church" in the Creed might possibly apply.

      The ent!ty in question, of course, is just that: the very visible, worldwide Catholic Church, in which the 263rd successor of the Apostle Peter, Pope John Paul II, teaches, governs and sanctifies, along with some 3,000 other bishops around the world, who are successors of the apostles of Jesus Christ.

      As mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, it is true that the followers of Christ early became known as "Christians" (cf. Acts 11:26). The name Christian, however, was never commonly applied to the Church herself. In the New Testament itself, the Church is simply called "the Church." There was only one. In that early time there were not yet any break-away bodies substantial enough to be rival claimants of the name and from which the Church might ever have to distinguish herself.
      Very early in post-apostolic times, however, the Church did acquire a proper name–and precisely in order to distinguish herself from rival bodies which by then were already beginning to form. The name that the Church acquired when it became necessary for her to have a proper name was the name by which she has been known ever since-the Catholic Church.

      The name appears in Christian literature for the first time around the end of the first century. By the time it was written down, it had certainly already been in use, for the indications are that everybody understood exactly what was meant by the name when it was written.

      Around the year A.D. 107, a bishop, St. Ignatius of Antioch in the Near East, was arrested, brought to Rome by armed guards and eventually martyred there in the arena. In a farewell letter which this early bishop and martyr wrote to his fellow Christians in Smyrna (today Izmir in modern Turkey), he made the first written mention in history of "the Catholic Church." He wrote, "Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" (To the Smyrnaeans 8:2). Thus, the second century of Christianity had scarcely begun when the name of the Catholic Church was already in use.

      Thereafter, mention of the name became more and more frequent in the written record. It appears in the oldest written account we possess outside the New Testament of the martyrdom of a Christian for his faith, the "Martyrdom of St. Polycarp," bishop of the same Church of Smyrna to which St. Ignatius of Antioch had written. St. Polycarp was martyred around 155, and the account of his sufferings dates back to that time. The narrator informs us that in his final prayers before giving up his life for Christ, St. Polycarp "remembered all who had met with him at any time, both small and great, both those with and those without renown, and the whole Catholic Church throughout the world."

      We know that St. Polycarp, at the time of his death in 155, had been a Christian for 86 years. He could not, therefore, have been born much later than 69 or 70. Yet it appears to have been a normal part of the vocabulary of a man of this era to be able to speak of "the whole Catholic Church throughout the world."

      The name had caught on, and no doubt for good reasons.

      The term "catholic" simply means "universal," and when employing it in those early days, St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Polycarp of Smyrna were referring to the Church that was already "everywhere," as distinguished from whatever sects, schisms or splinter groups might have grown up here and there, in opposition to the Catholic Church.

      The term was already understood even then to be an especially fitting name because the Catholic Church was for everyone, not just for adepts, enthusiasts or the specially initiated who might have been attracted to her
      Again, it was already understood that the Church was "catholic" because - to adopt a modern expression - she possessed the fullness of the means of salvation. She also was destined to be "universal" in time as well as in space, and it was to her that applied the promise of Christ to Peter and the other apostles that "the powers of death shall not prevail" against her (Mt 16:18).
      The Catechism of the Catholic Church in our own day has concisely summed up all the reasons why the name of the Church of Christ has been the Catholic Church: "The Church is catholic," the Catechism teaches, "[because] she proclaims the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She encompass-ses all times. She is 'missionary of her very nature'" (no. 868).

      So the name became attached to her for good. By the time of the first ecu-menical council of the Church, held at Nicaea in Asia Minor in the year 325 A.D., the bishops of that council were legislating quite naturally in the name of the universal body they called in the Council of Nicaea's official docu-ments "the Catholic Church." As most people know, it was that same council which formulated the basic Creed in which the term "catholic" was retained as one of the four marks of the true Church of Christ. And it is the same name which is to be found in all 16 docu-ments of the twenty-first ecu-menical council of the Church, Vatican Council II.

      It was still back in the fourth century that St. Cyril of Jerusalem aptly wrote, "Inquire not simply where the Lord's house is, for the sects of the profane also make an attempt to call their own dens the houses of the Lord; nor inquire merely where the church is, but where the Catholic Church is. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Body, the Mother of all, which is the Spouse of Our Lord Jesus Christ" (Catecheses, xviii, 26).

      The same inquiry needs to be made in exactly the same way today, for the name of the true Church of Christ has in no way been changed. It was inevitable that the Catechism of the Catholic Church would adopt the same name today that the Church has had throughout the whole of her very long history.

      From The Catholic Answer, May/June 1996?
      Published by Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750, 1-800-521-

      January 16, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  8. JennyTX

    Oh good grief, religion is just so silly.

    January 15, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  9. Nare

    The whole spectacle is entirely political and has nothing to do with religion. In fact, I'd say it does a lot more to drive people away from both sects that it does to draw more in to either caucus.

    January 15, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      What sect do you belong to, the one that split off the Catholic Church in the 1500’s or a more recent one? There are over 38,000 denominations that can say they derive their heritage from the mother of splits… Lutheranism;….do you even know where you fit in those splits?

      January 16, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  10. Bill

    It is equivalent to treason...bless their hearts and souls if they want to subscribe to such nonsense, but don't expect anyone other than them to like it. The pope and all of their non Christian rituals is nothing more than supporting a group of truly non-believers.

    January 15, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  11. jhg

    it does not matter what either of them do as they are all part of Babylon the great the mother of the harlots from the book of Revelation and they are about to receive their reward in full.

    January 15, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Are you talking about Revelation from the Bible, the Book that the Catholic Church compiled? Have you read the verse that states that Scripture is not a matter of private interpretation?

      January 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  12. Matthew DeNero

    It's good they have discovered there is only one true church. And that it wasn't founded by a murderer and led by a hereditary monarch. Welcome!

    January 15, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • Kat

      Amen, Matthew!

      January 15, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Bill

      You are of course a fool. We will pray that you too will see the light.

      January 15, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  13. George

    To me, this demonstrates the sad state of the Anglican faith – it's lost its way and suffers from ineffective leadership (current Archbishop of Canterbury) .In Calgary, Canada, where I live, Anglican parishes are joining the catholic community, so this is no surprise.

    January 15, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      You can’t blame the problems on the parishioners of the Anglican church of today because the Church was flawed from the beginning when it broke away in the first place….most are cradle Anglicans and just accepted things as they were. When they realized that the path they were on was a wrong path leading them even further from the Truth they had to make a decision; the brave found their way back to the Catholic Church from whence they came which must have been a most difficult decision knowing how they would be persecuted for doing so. But once they were home I would guess it was a relief beyond description….like being lost and now found.

      January 16, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  14. Ashley

    They are so opposed to women becoming bishops that they would rather join the ranks of known pedophiles. Incredible.

    January 15, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • bluesky

      As a former Roman Catholic who now proudly and happily is a member of the Episcopalian Church (Anglican church in the USA), I may disagree with their conclusions, but I wish them well as they follow their conscience. The anger expressed by many of the commenters here is unworthy of Jesus Christ.

      January 15, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Terry

      bluesky, the Episcopal Church continues to hemorrhage members and $$$. Enjoy it while it's there. Not hateful...just a fact.

      January 15, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • asrael

      That's right: Jesus ... never .. got angry. But then there was that temple incident... oops...

      January 16, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  15. Kelly

    (sings) I am Pagan, and I'm proud!!.....I am Pagan, Gonna shout it loud. I am Pagan, want the world to know...That I follow the Goddess 'cause whe rocks my soul" – From 'I am Pagan" By Spiral Rhythm

    January 15, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Reality

      All hail the "hoodooing voodooers"!!!

      January 16, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  16. Alex

    He might be a pedophile, so he became Catholic priest.

    January 15, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  17. Sandra

    Anglican Priests who were peeved because of tolerance towards gays and lesbians now part of a religious organisation that is infamous for diddling little kids. Not quite what I would call a good change.

    January 15, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • tk007e

      99% of paedophilia in the catholic church is commited by gays whose sole purpose was to destroy the church from within...In other words, they were never really catholics!!!

      January 16, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • dalis

      RE: "they were never really Catholics". That's a total cop-out. It was never an impediment to their ordination, was it? Was it?

      January 16, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • CatholicMom

      I would guess that tk007e meant…..never Catholic in their hearts.

      January 16, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • civiloutside

      Actually, what tk007e is saying is that the abuses were committed by a conspiracy of ho-mose-xuals who went to all the trouble of getting themselves ordained as priests and then spent decades secretly molesting children for the purpose of making the RCC look bad. I guess by that logic all the high-ranking preists who participated on covering it up (including the former Pope that's on the fast track to sainthood) were also gay and part of the campaign to destroy the church?

      Denial helps no one.

      January 17, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  18. Really???

    These bishops are married? It might help test the waters for the future by seeing how they balance their lives. The current prohibition of marriage was started by English clergy( shortly after the Norman invasion), it would be ironic if this created the ripples to make married clergy an option again.

    January 15, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • Leslie

      There are already a number of married Catholic priests in the U.S. As I understand it, all of them were previously Anglican priests who were already married but chose to convert to Roman Catholicism. Isn't it funny that the Catholic Church won't allow married priests - except that it does? Either it's okay or it isn't.

      January 15, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Perhaps it is difficult for you to understand that the Church is not about keeping people out of the Catholic Church but making it possible for all to come to Mother Church. Those Anglican priests who were married were probably even married before they were priests in some cases. Needless to say they are priests at heart and the Church recognizes them as such. Just because they adhered to a totally different set of circu-mstances doesn’t prevent them from continuing in their priesthood or marriages because they are not breaking any vows they made before God.

      But in ‘Father’ Cutie’s situation, you most likely heard of him, he took vows before he was married to be ‘married’ to the Church then broke those vows to become married to a woman but still wanted to be a priest. But the vows he took as a Catholic were different than the vows he took as an Anglican or whatever assembly he joined. For those who think that he should be able to now come back into the Catholic Church with that history are not thinking very clearly.

      Anglican priests broke no vows when they became priests as married men. And none broke vows when they married after becoming a priest. They can become priests in the Catholic Church because of this. That doesn’t mean that they will not have a struggle of balance in their two vocations but bless them for wanting to try and the Church is correct in not holding them back from continuing in the priesthood.

      Married men who have taken vows to be married wholly to their wives and then wish to be priests cannot forsake their vows and make a new vow to the Church, too. Most people can understand vows made before God as most crucial.

      January 17, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  19. The Rev'd Fr. Raymond H. Burgoon-Clark

    Good riddance! They left Anglicanism over the acceptance of gay and lesbian people to join a Church which is most noted for its peophilia. Go figure!

    January 15, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • ddrm

      You're supposed to be a person of faith and you sound so hateful! Interesting.

      January 15, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • frem

      You are grossly misinformed if you believe the Catholic church is most noted for it's pedophilia. And note the correct spelling of that word, which apparently you have so much hatred for Catholics that you can't even spell correctly. The only reason the Catholic faith has be so maligned is the fact that the majority of "the victims" feel that the Church has deep pockets and should pay. If you did any research on the subject you would find that basically all major religions have clergy that abuse children, but because it's not monetarily worth the effort, no one bothers to go after these creeps. Mark my words, the Catholic Church will prevail and become stronger in it's efforts to right the wrongs of this world.

      January 15, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      So let me get this straight then frem, you think people are only bothering to actually press charges against the catholic church, instead of remaining quiet, because they are greedy and after money?
      And they are 'victims' in quote marks no less, no guesses as to which side you are on there then.

      January 15, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • Steve

      :You're a blind fool or a liar, frem.

      January 15, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • asrael

      Thanks to frem for giving true meaning to "grossly misinformed"...

      January 15, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Peace2All


      You Said: "And note the correct spelling of that word, which apparently you have so much hatred for Catholics that you can't even spell correctly."

      And to correct someone for a spelling error is typically evidence of an 'amateur' blogger who hasn't a leg to stand on.

      You Said: "The only reason the Catholic faith has been so maligned is the fact that the majority of "the victims" feel that the Church has deep pockets and should pay."

      That is some tremendous 'denial' that you are in -frem...! And, to put "victims" in quotes given the context of your posting, shows that you have neither a sense of accurate reality nor any true compassion for what these "victims" have endured.

      You Said: "If you did any research on the subject you would find that basically all major religions have clergy that abuse children, but because it's not monetarily worth the effort, no one bothers to go after these creeps."

      Of course, basically all denominations, and certainly the major Churches have had abuses. And...I did some research as you suggested, and you can start here, at least with the top 10 largest mega-Churches in the U.S. If I am correct, which I believe that I am... 'none' of them are Catholic. And these are extremely large and very deep-pocketed Churches. And that was just sorting by the top 10.


      So, you are in fact...wrong.

      You Said: "Mark my words, the Catholic Church will prevail and become stronger in it's efforts to right the wrongs of this world."

      We will 'mark your words' and... hopefully the RCC will start by fixing there own heinous crimes, as opposed to the continual burying of the truth.

      Sorry -frem, I had to call you on your B.S...


      January 16, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Know What


      "Catholic Church will prevail and become stronger in it's efforts to right the wrongs of this world."

      Sorry to pile on here, but when one corrects another person's spelling/grammar (which in this case was a simple typo/missed keystroke), one must be very careful not to err oneself... i.e., "it's efforts" should be, "its efforts"... the apostrophe is only used when you are shortening "it is".

      The rest of your post is bunk too, however.

      January 16, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • Jim Sibley

      Rev'd? Good riddence? Isn't it the Anglican Church that has threatened with excommunication the American Espiscopal Church over these very same issues, possibly precipating a schism with the with inthe Anglican communion?

      January 16, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • gerald

      At least as many peds in the Anglican Church as a percentage as there is in the CC. Canada is crawing with Anglican priest peds.

      January 16, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  20. Yabba

    ...the first to take advantage of a new Vatican program that makes it easier for dissatisfied Anglicans to enter Catholicism and hasten their progress to becoming dissatisfied ex-catholics.

    January 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • ddrm

      Don't be so hateful. No one is forcing you to be Catholic.

      January 15, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
    • Bazoing

      Agree. Now they can combine the arrogant Satholic administration with the godless Anglican. Just wonderful!

      January 15, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • Bazoing

      Oops, sorry for the S for a C>

      January 15, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
1 2 3 4 5
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.