Archbishop Nichols assures Anglicans of a very warm welcome to the Church
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has said that Anglicans joining the Catholic Church this Easter will be ‘warmly welcomed’ and will feel entirely at home.
Speaking before a Lenten lecture at Brentwood Cathedral, the archbishop (right) said that the Catholic Church will ‘keep open and positive our relationships with the Church of England.’
Around 900 Anglicans, including 60 clergy, are expected to join the Catholic Church at Easter and Archbishop Nichols believes that Pope Benedict XVI’s ordinariate ‘shows us not to be afraid of diversity within the Catholic Church,’ as well as adding that we can recognise that ‘the Catholic community has got many different faces in this country now.’
The Westminster Archbishop said that the possibility of more married Anglican clergy becoming Catholic priests is not a threat to existing Catholic priests who are celibate.
“We have been receiving priests from the Church of England and ordaining them into our presbyterate, now, for 15 years,” Archbishop Nichols said. “And some of those have been married and have their own families and I think it has led, on the whole, to a greater maturity about reflection on celibacy as part of the priesthood in the Catholic Church as the norm in the Latin Rite as we call it—in the Latin Church.”
Last week three former Anglican bishops, the first members of the ordinariate, and who were ordained as Catholic priests in January, have been honoured with the title of monsignor by Pope Benedict XVI.
Fr Keith Newton, the leader of the ordinariate who has most of the functions of a bishop, has been granted the Papal award of Apostolic Protonotary, the highest ecclesial title for non-bishops. Fr Andrew Burnham, the former Bishop of Ebbsfleet, and Fr John Broadhurst, the former Bishop of Fulham, have been granted the Papal award of Prelate of Honour, and are therefore also monsignori.
Fr Newton spoke of his enthusiasm for the impending conversions and the journeys involved.
“I am really delighted by the numbers of Anglican laity who have begun the journey into the full Communion with the Catholic Church in Holy Week,” he said. “It has not been an easy journey for many but I know they will be greatly blessed. The Rites of Election (or Enrolment for ordinariate members) around the dioceses marked a very moving and important part of the journey so far.”