Image: Nazir-Ali speaking at Gafcon 2019
Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, former Anglican Bishop of Rochester, has joined the Catholic Church. He joins Jonathan Goodall, the bishop of Ebbsfleet for the past eight years, who also recently converted. In contrast, to Goodall and others who have converted, Nazir-Ali is an evangelical rather than an Anglo-Catholic.
For many years Nazir-Ali was a prominent leader of the conservative wing of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion — and was a frequent featured speaker at Gafcon meetings. Gafcon is an alliance of conservative Anglican provinces and schismatics who broke away from other provinces over progressive issues.
A high-profile Anglican bishop has joined the Catholic Church in what has been described as “one of the most politically significant conversions for a very long time”.
The reception of Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Anglican Bishop of Rochester, represents the third English episcopal move to Rome this year and the fourth in the last two years.
Bishop Nazir Ali was received into the Catholic faith on September 29, the feast of St Michael and All Angels by Monsignor Keith Newton, the former Anglican who now leads the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
He will serve in the Ordinariate, a Catholic organisation set up by Pope Benedict XVI a decade ago for the corporate reception of Anglicans, after he is ordained deacon at Oscott College on October 28 by the Most Rev. Bernard Longley, the Archbishop of Birmingham, and then as priest by Cardinal Vincent Nichols in Westminster Cathedral on October 30.
It is likely that he will be named “Monsignor” by Pope Francis in keeping with titles accorded previously to Anglican bishops who have transferred to Rome.
There have been a number of high-profile conversions including a former Bishop of London. So why should that of Michael be so nuclear in angling and political life?
The answer is that he formed the centre of a nucleus of evangelical resistance to the slippage in the secular progressive accommodation embarked on by the Anglican Church. He was particularly outspoken on the serious consequences of ignoring the implications of the growth of Islam, and the importance of the Christian definition of marriage being restricted to a man and a woman with the intention of having children.
Anglicanism’s global movement of conservative protest, ‘GAFCON’, was largely led by Michael Nazir-Ali. His articulate and well-informed theological voice acted like a glue to hold together disparate orthodox actions across the Anglican world. His influence provided much of the driving force that both propelled and held together the conservative or orthodox Anglican revolt against the progressive revolution led by the American Episcopal Church and followed by Archbishop Justin Welby from Lambeth Palace.
The fact that he has turned his back on the protest movement he helped to create has enormous significance for two reasons in particular….