Former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, joins Catholic Church

Michael Nazir-Ali has been critical of the Church of England in the past.

The former Anglican Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali has become a Catholic.

The announcement of his conversion was made on Thursday. He follows a number of other Anglican clergy in defecting to the Catholic Church.

Explaining his decision, the 72-year-old accused the Church of England of "jumping onto every faddish bandwagon about identity politics, cultural correctness and mea culpas about Britain's imperial past".

He said he wanted to be part of a Church that was "where there is clear teaching for the faithful".

Nazir-Ali was born in Pakistan but fled to the UK to escape persecution. He was Bishop of Rochester from 1994 to 2009, during which time he was outspoken about religious freedom and upheld a traditional view of Christianity on social issues like marriage and sexuality.

He is one of the highest profile figures in Anglicanism to convert to the Catholic fold, having been a major figure in Anglican evangelicalism and instrumental in the creation of orthodox Anglican body, Gafcon.

The switch has been made after Pope Benedict XVI created the Catholic Ordinariate 10 years ago to welcome in former Anglican clergy who have become disillusioned with the Church of England.

"I believe that the Anglican desire to adhere to apostolic, patristic and conciliar teaching can now best be maintained in the Ordinariate," he said.

"Provisions there to safeguard legitimate Anglican patrimony are very encouraging and, I believe, that such patrimony in its Liturgy, approaches to biblical study, pastoral commitment to the community, methods of moral theology and much else besides has a great deal to offer the wider Church.

"I am looking forward to receiving from the riches of other parts of the Church, while perhaps making a modest contribution to the maintenance and enhancement of Anglican patrimony within the wider fellowship.

"Ministry in the Church of Pakistan, in the Middle East generally, in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion remains precious to me and I see this as a further step in the ministry of our common Lord and of his people. At this time, I ask for prayers as I continue to pray for all parts of the Church."