Former Bishop of Rochester Dr Michael Nazir-Ali explains his defection from CofE to the Catholic Church

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Dr Michael Nazir-Ali today defends his decision to join the Ordinariate in the Catholic Church and describes his disappointment with the Church of England for not upholding “core values”.

The former Bishop of Rochester, 72, who revealed the decision last Friday, said the Anglican Church has become imbued with activists who pursue “a unique, often fashionable agenda.”

Writing exclusively for the Daily Mail, the married father-of-two said divisions within the Church of England left him feeling he was “at odds with the Church as an institution”. Dr Nazir-Ali, who will be ordained a Catholic priest this month, is the third English bishop to take the plunge this year.

When I was ordained an Anglican priest in 1976, it was a moment of joy and hope: I looked forward to a life of service to God in the Anglican Church which had Christ and the Bible at its center.

The values ​​of the Church were all I believed in: helping others to come to and be formed by the faith, tolerance and freedom, the holiness of the person, of marriage and the importance of the family. .

Michael Nazir-Ali (pictured), who served as Bishop of Rochester from 1994-2009, could be ordained as soon as next month after spending “a few years” contemplating change

At the time, the Church celebrated and defended these values. It wasn’t reluctant, sorry or ashamed of them.

I could never have imagined that 45 years later I would feel compelled to leave the Anglican Church that I loved, or that I would be received, as I was a fortnight ago, into the Ordinariate – intended for Anglicans who wish to be part of the Catholic Church while keeping their Anglican heritage.

It was a bittersweet moment.

Dr Nazir-Ali was a respected scholar and researcher within the Church of England

Dr Nazir-Ali was a respected scholar and researcher within the Church of England

Bitter, because I am deeply saddened that the Church of England is not the Church I have joined. There are many individual parishes, priests and believers who remain committed to the faith and biblical values. But as an institution, it seems to go astray.

Sweet, because I am excited about the opportunities that membership in the Ordinariate will offer me: defending human rights and helping millions of suffering Christians and others around the world. The Catholic Church is a truly united world organization, which gives it strength.

The Anglican Church has split up, a loose collection of churches, many of which have conflicting interpretations of Christianity. Even when the Church does manage to come to an agreement on things, those decisions don’t seem to carry much weight – people go and do it their own way.

I struggled with this for several years, but reluctantly realized I had no choice.

Too often, I have felt alone, at odds with the Church. Sometimes it’s better to have the wind at your back than to constantly fight against it.

It is a deeply personal decision. I move from one Church to another, fulfilling my spiritual needs. It is not a “conversion” from one religion to another.

Dr Nazir-Ali with the Queen at Wolferton Church on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk in 1998

Dr Nazir-Ali with the Queen at Wolferton Church on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk in 1998

The married father-of-two has revealed that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, had not tried to convince him to stay.  He added:

The married father-of-two has revealed that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, had not tried to convince him to stay. He added: “I think he respected the decision I made and I was grateful for it.” Pictured Dr Nazir-Ali with Prince Philip in 2002

Now, as a member of the Ordinariate, I have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining what I love about Anglicanism: the beauty of worship, the love of the Bible and a pastoral commitment. towards the community at large. And the Ordinariate accepts married clergy – I have been happily married to Valerie for almost 50 years.

The Catholic Church has had its share of problems, but faith and values ​​are the ones that I too have and feel eroded in the Church of England. It might have been easier at 72 to stay where I was: to work from the inside out to change the things that matter so much to me.

Believe me, I tried – but I failed. Church councils and synods are imbued with activists who each have a unique, often fashionable agenda, be it cultural rectitude, “climate change”, identity politics, multiculturalism ( which actually encourages communities to live separately) or critical theory of race, religion and gender – a neo-Marxist theory developed to create conflict by dividing people into victims and villains.

Dr Nazir-Ali has been married to Valerie (pictured) since 1972 and they have two adult sons

Dr Nazir-Ali has been married to Valerie (pictured) since 1972 and they have two adult sons

Focusing on the differences of people, rather than what unites them, isolates and separates people and causes the kind of mistrust and “ghettoization” that I believe led, in part, to my death. friend Sir David Amess, MP.

And then there is the endless self-laceration over Britain’s imperial past. The latest request, that churches examine their monuments for links to slavery and colonialism, is typical of this obsession. I am not a defender of the British Empire. There was a lot of terrible stuff in there: men who got rich at the expense of India and what is now Pakistan, my birthplace. But he also helped people, improving cities, introducing irrigation systems, modern education and institutions of democracy.

Yet the Church of England seems to dwell only on the worst elements of the Empire, such as the slave trade. Britain’s involvement in the slave trade was reprehensible – but let’s not forget that the abolitionist movement started in Britain and the abolitionists were Christians. Why is this so rarely recognized?

This apparent dread of putting oneself on the wrong side of mainstream liberal orthodoxy weakens the Church. People don’t know what it means anymore when it seems to be striving to be everything for everyone.

People want to feel the presence of God and the teaching of Christ when they go to church, especially those who do not go often. They don’t want a happy chat show or a glorified yoga center, where the Bible, prayer, and true worship are sidelined.

Dr Nazir-Ali (pictured in 1996) once accused the CofE of

Dr Nazir-Ali (pictured in 1996) once accused CofE of “jumping on every fashionable train”

Why has the Church become so reluctant to celebrate Christian values? It is clear from history that Christian societies are freer societies, unlike those based on secular ideology, such as China and the USSR.

Christian values ​​underpin the freedoms we enjoy in this country. We should therefore welcome people here on the basis that they respect these values ​​while being free to have their own beliefs and to contribute to society at large.

The Church should also publicly support marriage as a permanent institution, to which a man and a woman commit for life. It is not just a question of Christian belief. All research shows that children do best when living with married parents.

Sometimes divorce is inevitable and no one denies that single parents do a heroic job, but that doesn’t mean having a married father and mother can’t be considered ideal.

Too often the Church seems to apologize about traditional marriage for fear of offending those who are not married. We must not be judgmental, but we must speak the truth as we see it.

Lately, the Church has been overwhelmed by bureaucrats: assistant deans, lawyers, government officials, race relations and climate change officers, while the number of parish clergy continues to decline.

The Church must support the ‘vicar on the beat’ – who must be visible – in the church, in hospitals, schools, supermarkets, by listening, taking care and directing the implementation of the faith and Christian values.

Finally, the Church must do more to defend Christians around the world. I have worked with persecuted Christians in countries such as Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Syria and have been closely involved in the case of Asia Bibi, the Christian woman accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death. in Pakistan.

Dr Nazir-Ali's conversion to Catholicism is considered the most significant since Graham Leonard (pictured), the former Bishop of London, who was received into the Church in 1994 after rejecting the ordination of women priests

Dr Nazir-Ali’s conversion to Catholicism is considered the most significant since Graham Leonard (pictured), the former Bishop of London, who was received into the Church in 1994 after rejecting the ordination of women priests

The Catholic Church played a major role in securing his release, as did the entire Christian community. Fifty-five MPs signed a letter to the British and Pakistani prime ministers. But the Church of England has not been very active in its support. Why has he not shown more leadership?

I hope that becoming an Ordinary Catholic will allow me to support Christians closer to home who are marginalized and hunted down by a liberal totalitarianism that demands total consensus.

I constantly get involved in situations where people have lost their jobs because of their Christian beliefs – registrars who don’t want to register marriages against their conscience, midwives who don’t want to participate in abortions or nurses fired for carrying a crucifix.

The Church of England – and other churches – should fight on behalf of all believers of all faiths who have conscience issues. Too often he doesn’t seem to want to get involved.

Centuries ago, Church leaders were prepared to die for their beliefs, and Christians around the world still do. By failing to defend them and to defend fundamental Christian values, we are betraying them.

I sincerely hope that the Church can find her way home and find the courage to stand up for what matters. I pray that it will once again become the Church that Saint Augustine brought here a millennium and a half ago, a beacon of hope, shining its faith and values ​​throughout the world, not a flame flickering in the wind.


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