Anglican Bishop Converts: Wales Embraces Catholicism

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Bishop Richard Pain, Anglican Bishop of Monmouth in Wales, announced on July 2, 2023 that he had converted to Catholicism. He thus becomes the eleventh Anglican bishop to join the ranks of the Roman Catholic Church.
Bishop Richard Pain became, on Sunday July 2, the eleventh Anglican bishop to convert to Catholicism, the first in Wales. Anglican Bishop of Monmouth, he joined the Catholic Church and was welcomed into the personal ordinariate (1) of Our Lady of Walsingham.

“I feel like I’ve come home”

Born in London in 1956, Bishop Pain was ordained a priest in the Church of Wales in 1986. He carried out his entire ministry in the diocese of Monmouth, before being elected bishop there in 2013. Married with two children, he retired as bishop in 2019, due to health problems. He now describes this moment as decisive because it allowed him “to reflect again on [his] spiritual journey”.

“The Benedictine understanding of obedience—hearing the Lord—was important to my personal formation,” he said. The following call to conversion led me to convert to the Catholic Church through the ordinariate.”

These Anglican bishops who join the Catholic Church

On July 2, when he “always felt attracted to the Catholic Church”, he decided to take the plunge. On July 18, he confided in the American media National Catholic Register: “I am grateful for the richness of my heritage and my Anglican experience, and I consider that turning to the Catholic Church is a step in the right direction for me. »

“Richard has a long ministry in the Church of Wales. He has many gifts that he will continue to use to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Wales,” Bishop Newton, Bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, said on the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Scotland.

A broader phenomenon of conversion

The case of Bishop Pain is part of a larger phenomenon. In recent years, in fact, eleven Anglican bishops have decided to join the Catholic Church. For some, this decision is part of a refusal of the directions taken by their Church of origin.

Thus, in 2022, La Croix interviewed one of these bishops, Father Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester (United Kingdom), ordained a Catholic priest in the fall of 2021. He considered that it was the “red lines” crossed by the Anglican Communion which led to its changeover, in particular “the inability of the more conservative branch to have an influence to prevent the drift towards liberal Protestantism”.

For others, it is the desire and the need to recognize the papal primacy that led them to make this choice of Catholicism, Bishop Richard Pain specifying that “the charism of the pope is essential for stability and unity”.

The 2009 Motu Proprio

The transition of Bishop Pain from Anglicanism to Catholicism is in line with the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus of Benedict XVI promulgated in 2009. It aimed to facilitate the reception of Anglicans wishing to join the Roman fold. It allowed the creation of personal ordinariates, intended to welcome defectors. Three ordinariates have been created, in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. One of the stated objectives is thus to maintain “within the Catholic Church the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion”.

In this papal decree, it is stated that “the Ordinary, in full respect of the discipline of celibacy of the clergy of the Latin Church, will admit as a general rule only celibate men to the order of priests”. Thus, newly converted bishops will have to submit an exceptional request to the pope to enter the priesthood while remaining married. Each situation is therefore treated “on a case-by-case basis and according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See”. Richard Pain assures him that he hopes to be ordained in the Catholic Church to make himself “useful”.

This article is originally published on africa.la-croix.com

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