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Anglican bishop becomes Catholic, says discernment is shaped by whisper of God’s voice

Former Anglican Bishop Richard Pain, who retired as Bishop of Monmouth in 2019, is the first Anglican bishop from Wales to join the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. He is pictured in an undated screenshot. (OSV News screenshot/Bishops' Conference of England and Wales)

LIVERPOOL, England (OSV News) — A sixth former Anglican bishop has announced his decision to become a Catholic in just the last four years.

Bishop Richard Pain, who retired as bishop of Monmouth in 2019, is the first Anglican bishop from Wales to join the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

He will be received into the full communion at the church of St. Basil and St. Gwladys, Rogerstone Newport, Wales, on July 2, by Msgr. Keith Newton, the leader of the Ordinariate.

Msgr. Newton said: “We are delighted that after much prayer Richard has asked to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church.”

“Richard has a long and distinguished ministry in the Church in Wales,” he said in a June 12 statement posted on the website of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. “He has many gifts which he will continue to use to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Wales.”

Bishop Pain said in a June 12 statement that he decided to become a Catholic when reflecting on his future following his retirement.

“The process of discernment continues throughout life and is constantly shaped by context but more importantly by the whisper of God’s voice,” he said.

“The Benedictine understanding of obedience — hearing the Lord — has been significant to my personal formation,” he continued. “The call to conversion which follows has led me to becoming a convert to the Catholic church through the Ordinariate.”

He added: “I have much to be grateful for the experience gained over a lifetime as an Anglican. Yet the call to Catholicism seems natural and spiritual at the same time. To start afresh will be a welcome challenge and I come — as we all do — as a learner and a disciple.”

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is a structure similar to a diocese, inaugurated in 2011 under the late Pope Benedict XVI to allow former Anglicans to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church while retaining some elements of the Anglican tradition that nurtured its members. It has its own Eucharistic liturgy which preserves some elements of the Book of Common Prayer, a permanent feature of the Church of England’s worship and a key source for its doctrine.

Bishop Pain, a married father of two sons, was born in London in 1956 and attended Bristol University where he studied English literature before receiving his second degree in theology at University of Wales, Cardiff, while training for the Anglican ministry.

He was ordained in the Church of England in Wales at Newport Cathedral in 1986 and has served all his ministry in the Diocese of Monmouth. He was elected bishop in 2013.

He is the latest high-profile Anglican to join a recent influx into the Catholic Church.

Gavin Ashenden, a former chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II and a traditionalist Anglican bishop, became a Catholic in Shrewsbury Cathedral at Christmas 2019.

The former Anglican bishop of Rochester, Msgr. Michael Nazir-Ali, joined the Ordinariate in 2021, just like retired Bishop Peter Forster of Chester, and Msgr. John Goddard, the former bishop of Burnley who was received into the Catholic faith in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.

Father Jonathan Goodall, the former Bishop of Ebbsfleet, was ordained a diocesan priest in Westminster Cathedral in 2022

Simon Caldwell writes for OSV news from Liverpool, England.

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