As always, rumors have circulated around the favorites of the 2002 race to become the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury.
The efforts to derail Bishop Michael Nariz-Ali of Rochester were different, in part because he was born in Pakistan – fluent in Urdu and Farsi – and set to become the first non-white ruler of the Church of England. Others noted that he attended Catholic schools as a child and practiced this faith.
Progressives warned that Nazir-Ali was too conservative on issues that divided Anglicans. He opposed the ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians, while defending the ancient teachings on marriage. He was a fierce critic of Sharia law and “radical Islam” while defending persecuted Christians around the world. Importantly, critics noted that he was a strong evangelical leader in the Anglican world fellowship.
Nazir-Ali insisted he was “evangelical and Catholic” even though he lost his shot at the Canterbury throne.
It’s the same label he used when he stunned the Anglican world by announcing he was returning to Roman Catholicism. He is expected to be ordained a Catholic priest this Sunday, October 31, serving in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, a canonical structure established in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI that allows Anglicans to enter Catholicism while retaining many rites. Anglicans and traditions. Nazir-Ali, 72, is married and has two children.
He said his transition to Catholicism was necessary “because I believe that the traditional Anglican desire to adhere to the fullness of apostolic, patristic and conciliar teaching can now be better maintained in this way.”
Writing in the Daily Mail, he called the decision a “bittersweet moment.”
âBitter, because I am deeply saddened that the Church of England is not the church I joined,â he said. âThere are many parishes, priests and believers who remain committed to the faith and biblical values. But as an institution, it seems to be lost.
âSweet, 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. “
Another major factor was his experience in the global dialogues between Canterbury and Rome, explained Nazir-Ali, appearing on the program “Kresta in the afternoon” on Ave Maria Radio. Even as important theological agreements were made, the American Episcopal Church and certain other Anglican provinces “undermined them by behaving in a manner contrary to the spirit of the agreements and sometimes to their letter,” said Nazir-Ali. .
The current crisis in Anglicanism, he concluded, is rooted in an “inability to make decisions together that affect everyone who stays then, so to speak.” So, âwhen the going is good,â there is no common authority on how to interpret the scriptures and uphold the traditions of the Church.
This is crucial, he said, because “we are faced, in our world, with many daily problems where the faithful need to be guided, to be told what is the way of Gospel “.
Ironically, the bitter disputes between liberal Catholics in Europe, particularly Germany, and conservative Catholics in the Global South, particularly Africa, resemble the conflicts that have rocked Anglicanism for decades, noted one Anglican activist. evangelical who followed the work of Nazir-Ali for many years.
“Yes, Anglicanism has seen a better day, and will do it again. Roman Catholicism has seen a better day, and we pray that it will once again have a better day,” noted Kevin Kallsen, host of the video podcasts. Anglican Unscripted. “But you can’t trade Anglicanism for Roman Catholicism and say you’re looking for a purer religion – a purer doctrine, a purer church.” Rome may be purer âon paper,â he insisted, but âin practiceâ this is not the reality at this point in Church history.
It is true that, in the days to come, liberals and conservatives of the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church could debate the importance of this leap of faith by Nazir-Ali, the Al Kresta TV station said. , reached by phone.
âBut one thing is certain,â Kresta stressed: âThis man is more than a defender of the faith. He has been a hero to evangelicals and a lion fighting for the rights of believers around the world who have suffered for the faith. faith. Michael Nazir-Ali attacked the gates of hell, not standing safely on the sidelines. “
Terry Mattingly is the editor of GetReligion.org and principal investigator at the Overby Center at the University of Mississippi.