Anglican Bishop who criticised direction of Church of England converts to Catholicism

An Anglican Bishop who has previously criticised the direction of the Church of England has converted to Catholicism

Bishop Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, who was Bishop of Rochester from 1994 until 2009, confirmed suspicions earlier this morning, telling The Telegraph that he had been considering the move “for some years”. 

He is now set to become a Catholic priest, saying the new role will “best maintain” his religious desires, adding that the controversial switch was “about belonging to a church where there is clear teaching for the faithful”. 

A Church of England spokesperson has been contacted for comment.

The former Anglican bishop has been the subject of controversy within his former church, speaking out on a range of subjects, including: accusing it of “jumping on faddish bandwagons” amid ongoing debate around cancel culture and wokeism. 

Writing in this newspaper in February, he said: “The institution, however, seems engrossed either in lengthy, costly and far fetched “safeguarding” allegations against prominent church figures, or in jumping onto every faddish bandwagon about identity politics, cultural correctness and mea culpas about Britain’s imperial past.”

He has also accused the Archbishops of failure to care for the parish, is also anti-abortion and opposes euthenasia.

The news of his switching to Catholicism comes just weeks after a Church of England bishop who opposed women priests defected to the Roman Catholic church amid speculation it was not “spiritual” or “orthodox” enough for him. 

Bishop Jonathan Goodall, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, had been a provincial episcopal visitor, known as a “flying bishop”, since 2013, supporting congregations in the Church of England that are unable to accept the ministry of women as priests or bishops.

However, last month he announced that “after a long period of prayer, which has been among the most testing periods of my life”, he was quitting to defect to Catholicism. 

It is rare for a bishop to leave the Church of England. In 2010, five bishops quit the church because of their dissatisfaction regarding the introduction of women bishops. 

The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales confirmed that Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, was received into the full communion of the Catholic Church by Monsignor Keith Newton on the Feast of St Michael and All Angels. 

With the permission of the Holy See, he will be ordained to the Catholic priesthood for the Ordinariate in due course.

Dr Nazir-Ali added: “I believe that the Anglican desire to adhere to apostolic, patristic and conciliar teaching can now best be maintained in the Ordinariate.

“Provisions there to safeguard legitimate Anglican patrimony are very encouraging and, I believe, that such patrimony in its Liturgy, approaches to biblical study, pastoral commitment to the community, methods of moral theology and much else besides has a great deal to offer the wider Church.

“I am looking forward to receiving from the riches of other parts of the Church, while perhaps making a modest contribution to the maintenance and enhancement of Anglican patrimony within the wider fellowship.”

He was born in Pakistan in 1949 and has both British and Pakistani citizenship. He also holds many academic awards including from the Universities of Karachi, Oxford and

Cambridge, as well as a Lambeth Doctor of Divinity.

He has taught and researched at a number of institutions and continues to teach and supervise research. He was ordained an Anglican priest in 1976 and served in England and Pakistan before being consecrated Bishop of Raiwind in 1984.

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