An Anglican priest, Bishop who converts to Catholicism becomes a Catholic lay faithful? Yes.

By Fr. Henry Charles Umelechi

The Catholic Church doesn’t recognize the Anglican Ordination as valid because it’s not Apostolic; they have no apostolic succession.

By Apostolic Succession, every Catholic Bishop is linked directly to an Apostle who was there with Jesus Christ at the last supper( Matthew 26:17–29; Mark 14:12–25; Luke 22:7–38; and I Corinthians 11:23–25), but that doesn’t apply to Anglican Bishops. Therefore Anglican Bishops don’t have power of ordination linked to Jesus Christ, in the “do this in memory of me (Luke 22:19).”

Lost Apostolic Succession…

The Apostolic Succession of the Anglican church started being lost when King Henry VIII of England broke away from the One, Catholic, Holy and Apostolic Church; from the unity of faith in 1534. Within these periods, king Henry VIII saw himself as the Supreme Head of the Church of England and was appointing Bishops by himself without the ordination of Catholic Bishops who had the apostolic succession. The process of total separation was completed when his daughter Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603) became Queen of England.

Therefore, whomever that was ordained under Anglican church must be ordained in the Catholic Church for him to become a Catholic priest, by a Catholic Bishop.

The Ordination of Fr. Michael Nazir-Ali, former Anglican Bishops

As such, the Anglican priest or Bishop who converts to Catholicism first becomes a lay faithful. If such wants to become a Catholic priest, he must apply and begin his training and studies for the Catholic priesthood, in Catholic theology before being ordained a Catholic priest.

The Personal Ordinariate…

Anglican priests, Bishops and lay faithful who want to preserve certain of their traditional liturgical and spiritual heritage while entering into full communion with the Catholic Church are accepted through the Personal Ordinariate.

This Ordinariate is like a diocese and accepts Non Anglicans like Methodists, protestants and those who weren’t Catholics before.

The Ordinariate has its own ordinary who may be either a Bishop or a priest and is equivalent to a diocesan bishop but the ordinary cannot be a bishop if married or with dependent children.

If the ordinary is not a Bishop he cannot ordain proper candidates deacons, priests nọr bishops like Catholic Bishops, but he does everything patterning to diocesan bishops like issuing dimissorial letters, installation of lectors and acolytes, a full member of a Bishop’s conference and may use certain episcopal symbols, such as mitre, crosier, ring, pectoral cross, zucchetto, choir dress with purple cassock and make an Ad Limina apostolorum visit to Rome every five years.


The encyclical of Pope Paul VI on the celibacy of the priest, Sacerdotalis Celibatus states well in no. 42 that “….perpetual celibacy of those who are admitted to Holy Orders remains unchanged, on the other hand, a study may be allowed of the particular circumstances of married sacred ministers of Churches or other Christian communities separated from the Catholic communion, and of the possibility of admitting to priestly functions those who desire to adhere to the fullness of this communion and to continue to exercise the sacred ministry. The circumstances must be such, however, as not to prejudice the existing discipline regarding celibacy. ”

The existing discipline is that “Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy…” (Can. 277 §1)

In trying to breakdown this into application, the FAQ section of the website of Mount Calvary Church, Baltimore which relates with one of the Personal Ordinariates established for the converted Anglicans to the Catholic Church states:

“It is true that most priests ordained in the Ordinariate are married. So far, these invariably have been men who previously ministered as ordained clergymen within Anglican churches, where the discipline long has been to permit the ordination of married men. Being part of the Latin Rite Church, the Ordinariate is still bound to observe the ancient Latin Rite discipline of a celibate clergy, but it is permitted to ordain married men as priests on a case by case basis, with the permission of the Holy See, which has been generous in accepting the applications of such men as priest.”

By this, it means that in this particular case, married men of the Anglican priests admitted to the Catholic Church, could be ordained Catholic priests and still maintain their marital responsibilities which doesn’t affect the marital unitive and procreative purposes, but the ordained can’t marry. Therefore, if in any case any of their wives dies, such priest can’t marry again.

✓How Many Ordinariates are There?

There are Three Personal Ordinariates in the world established between 2011 and 2012:

Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (England and Wales, Scotland)
Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter (United States, Canada)
Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross (Australia, Japan)


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on print
Share on telegram