A prominent and retired Church of England bishop once tipped to become a future Archbishop of Canterbury has been received into the Catholic Church and is set to be ordained as a deacon on October 28, and a priest on October 30 this year.
Former Anglican bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali was received into the Church on September 29, the feast of Archangels. He will be ordained a Catholic priest “in due course,” according to a statement issued by the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and the bishops’ conference of England and Wales.
Pope Benedict XVI established the personal ordinariate in 2010, a canonical structure through which Anglicans wishing to enter into the full communion with the Catholic Church could do so while retaining their Anglican patrimony.
Nazir-Ali was the Anglican Bishop of Rochester in England for fifteen years. He is married with two sons and holds a dual citizenship of Pakistan and the United Kingdom.
He is a prominent defender of the Christian faith and culture and a defender of persecuted Christians.
Nazir-Ali was born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1949. His father converted from Shia Islam and he was educated in Catholic schools in Karachi. He was received into the Anglican church of Pakistan at the age of 20, ordained an Anglican vicar in 1976, and consecrated Bishop of Raiwind, Pakistan, in 1984.
He is a well known scholar, with academic awards from the Universities of Karachi, Oxford, and Cambridge, as well as a Lambeth Doctor of Divinity.
He was the General Secretary of the Church Missionary Society. In 1999, he was appointed Bishop of Rochester and became a member of the House of Lords. He focused on international relations, dialogue among people of different faiths, freedom of expression and speech and defense of human dignity from conception to death.
On his retirement in 2009, Nasir Ali has served as director of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy & Dialogue (OXTRAD), whose mission is to prepare Christians for ministry in situations where the Church is under pressure and in danger of persecution.
“I’ve come to know the former bishop, soon to be Father Michael Nazir Ali, over many years because of his untiring work for the persecuted Church,” Father Kiely told a Catholic newspaper.
“This will be one of the great gifts he brings to the Church: both his extensive knowledge of Islam, and his profound faith in Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man.”
“Michael Nazir-Ali’s abandonment of the Anglican project in favour of seeking full Communion with Rome through the Ordinariate is a move of monumental proportion and significance,” said Gavin Ashenden, a former Anglican vicar and honorary chaplain to the Queen who was himself received into the Catholic Church in 2019.