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1st bishop for Catholics of Anglican origin in UK

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Our Lady of Walsingham

John Burger - published on 04/30/24

New ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham once served in the General Synod of the Church of England.

A former Anglican priest who served as a member of the General Synod of the Church of England will lead a special Catholic diocese in England as a bishop.

Pope Francis on Monday appointed Fr. David Waller, 63, as head of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, a diocese specifically established for former Anglicans who have become Catholic.

Fr. Waller in 2011 was among the first group of Anglican clergymen to be ordained to the Catholic priesthood under the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus, Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 apostolic constitution that authorized the creation of “personal ordinariates” for Anglicans who become Catholics.

The ordinariate is a geographic region similar to a diocese but typically national in scope. Parishes in these ordinariates retain elements of the Anglican heritage and liturgical practices. There are three ordinariates; in addition to the UK-based one, there is one in the United States and another in Oceania.

Fr. Waller’s appointment followed Pope Francis’ acceptance of the resignation of Msgr. Keith Newton, 72, who has led the ordinariate since its establishment 2011.

Many Ordinariate priests, previously Anglican clergymen, are married. Only those who were celibate may become bishops in the Catholic Church. Fr. Waller, who is celibate, will become the first bishop ordinary of Our Lady of Walsingham. Msgr. Newton, who is a married former Anglican bishop, simply held the title “Ordinary.”

“I have been a member of the Ordinariate since its inception in 2011, when groups of clergy and laity, up and down the country, were received into the full communion of the Catholic Church under the provisions of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus,” Waller said in a statement. “The past 13 years have been a time of grace and blessing as small and vulnerable communities have grown in confidence, rejoicing to be a full yet distinct part of the Catholic Church.”

Msgr. Newton welcomed the news of Fr. Waller’s appointment, saying the priest “has been a wise and trusted confidant.”

“Bishop-elect Waller has long experience in pastoral ministry both in the Church of England and in the Catholic Church,” Newton said. “I know he will use his pastoral gifts as he guides the Ordinariate into the next chapter of its life.”

The Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, based in Houston, also has a bishop, Stephen Lopes. Bishop Lopes called Waller a “great choice” to lead the UK Ordinariate. He also lauded Msgr. Newton, who, he said, has “fostered the broad identity and mission of the Ordinariate, especially as this still relatively new entity takes its place in Catholic life and contributes to the evangelical dynamism of the whole Church.”

Our Lady of Walsingham has about 100 priests, one of whom is Msgr. Michael Nazir-Ali, who was once considered to become Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was established in 2012 and is has more than 40 parishes and communities across the U.S. and Canada.​​​​​ The Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross was established the same year and covers Australia, New Zealand, Oceania and Japan. Currently, it is administered by Bishop Anthony Randazzo of Broken Bay, Australia, until the Vatican appoints a new ordinary.

In May 2013, Pope Francis amended the norms of Anglicanorum coetibus, to allow anyone “who has been baptized in the Catholic Church but who has not completed the Sacraments of Initiation, and subsequently returns to the faith and practice of the Church as a result of the evangelizing mission of the Ordinariate” to be “admitted to membership in the Ordinariate and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation or the Sacrament of the Eucharist or both.” 

“St. John Henry Newman, pray for us”

Bishop-elect Waller was born in London on June 10, 1961, and educated at the University of Leeds. From 1983 to 1989, he worked as a community worker in Bradford, which was one of the most impoverished areas of the United Kingdom. In 1989 he left Bradford to train for Anglican orders at Chichester Theological College and was ordained Deacon in 1991 and priest the following year. He served in parishes and was a member of the Diocesan Synod and a part-time hospital chaplain.

In 2000, he moved to East London to become Vicar of the Parish of St. Saviour, Walthamstow and remained in this post until his reception into the Catholic Church. From 2005 to 2010, he served as a member of the General Synod of the Church of England.

During Holy Week of 2011, he was received into the full communion of the Catholic Church. Since being ordained to the Catholic priesthood, he has served in several parishes, as Chairman of the Governing Council of the Ordinariate, and as Vicar General.

“It is both humbling and a great honor to have been chosen by Pope Francis to succeed Msgr. Keith Newton as the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham,” Bishop-designate Waller said. “May Our Lady of Walsingham and St. John Henry Newman Pray for Us.”

Tags:
BishopsCatholicismChurchEnglandPope Francis
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