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Former Roman Catholic Priests (Ordination)

Volume 524: debated on Tuesday 1 March 2011

6. How many former Roman Catholic priests have sought ordination in the Church of England since 2005; and if he will make a statement. (42466)

Figures held by the Archbishops Council show that in the past five years 14 former Roman Catholic priests have sought to be received into ordained ministry within the Church of England. As there is also discretion at diocesan level for acceptance into the ministry, not all candidates are centrally recorded, so the national figure is likely to be higher.

National newspapers suggest that there is a one-way road leading from Canterbury to Rome. I have no brief for the established Church—I come from good non-conformist stock—but does the hon. Gentleman agree that more should be done to make it clear to those Roman Catholic priests who are unhappy that there is a welcome for them in the Church of England?

I say to my hon. Friend that there is a welcome for everyone in the Church of England. He makes a good point; national newspapers give the impression that there is a one-way street for disaffected Church of England priests going to the Roman Catholic Church, but that is certainly not the case. There are very good ecumenical relations between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, as was demonstrated by Pope Benedict’s recent visit to the UK. There is certainly two-way traffic, and long may that continue.