When a man who once almost became Archbishop of Canterbury failed in the Roman Catholic Church, it’s time to sit up and notice.
Michael Nazir-Ali is in most respects as unequal as possible for a typical modern bishop of the Church of England, which is no doubt the reason why he was not appointed an Anglican primate in 2002.
He has emerged as an uncompromising social conservative in an established church, which in recent years has become increasingly liberal and has tended to swim with the flow of secular faith.
Michael Nazir-Ali was the first non-white diocesan bishop of the Church of England
One does not have to agree on all aspects of Dr. The views of Nazir-Ali — and some Anglicans, let alone people from other denominations and non-believers, will not.
Like the Roman Catholic Church he joins, he strongly opposes abortion.
Nor has he supported celibate gay priests working in the Church of England or that same-sex marriages take place in the church. While still not allowed, it looks like they will soon be.
At the same time, he has celebrated the importance of the family and the sanctity of marriage in a way that would have been known to Anglican worshipers half a century ago, but is now unusual.
Whatever one thinks of his particular views, I find it impossible not to admire dr. Nazir-Ali for his thinking and for his courage to speak out contrary to fashionable opinion.
His background largely explains why he is so different from run-of-the-mill Anglican prelates.
Born in predominantly Muslim Pakistan, he became a bishop there while still in his thirties before leaving the country when his life was in danger.
To him, Christianity was not a set of sure and pleasing beliefs that could be bent to accommodate progressive thought. It was a minority section that fought for survival and was sometimes threatened by radical Islam.
Former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali with his wife Valerie
Dr. Nazir-Ali was received in the Roman Catholic Church two weeks ago
That explains why, since retiring as Bishop of Rochester in 2009 after 15 years in the role, he has spent a lot of time together with Anglicans in the Third World, who are sometimes persecuted.
He is above all a serious man. Not a few Anglicans will agree with him when he says he will be in a church ‘where there is clear teaching for the faithful’.
It is found in parts of the Church of England, but many pastors seem too afraid to violate worldly values to speak with great clarity.
Dr. Nazir-Ali’s criticism of the C of E for ‘jumping on to any fadish wagon about identity politics, cultural correctness and mea culpa about Britain’s imperial past’ will also strike a chord with many people.
Of course, there are historical events that we should rightly be ashamed of. What is so tiring is the preoccupation with supposed misdeeds in the distant past and the constant self-flag reading when there are so many challenges and problems in our own time.
Yet the Church of England’s hierarchy has instructed cathedrals and churches across the country to review their monuments to connections to slavery and colonialism and act, if any.
About 12,500 parishes and 42 cathedrals have searched their grounds and buildings for shameful connections.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has stated in the tones of a trendy Labor MP: ‘Some will have to come down, some names will have to be changed.’
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke of monuments associated with slavery and said: ‘Some will have to come down, some names will have to be changed.’
Aren’t there more urgent things for the Church to do?
Although the Church is right to be deeply concerned about the destruction of God’s world, it should not be involved in climate change policy either.
There are scientists and politicians who are capable of doing that. And even earlier this year, C of E appointed an environmental bishop to spearhead the crusade against climate change and tackle the looming ‘chaos and destruction’ of ‘this precious planet’.
At a Christmas service not so long ago, I heard a bishop preach about global warming. How about leading the fight against the seemingly inexhaustible decline of religious faith in this country?
Religious attendance continues to decline, and the Church of England’s response when it does not care about secular issues is to talk about closing more churches.
A recent C of E document actually questioned the ‘sustainability of many local churches’ and warned that most dioceses intend to ‘cut’ the number of priests.
Dr Nazir-Ali wants to be in a church ‘where there is clear teaching for the faithful’
Admittedly, there are still, especially on the evangelical wing of the Church, lively parishes that are not ready to overthrow and accept the inevitability of the decline.
But much of C out of E has become defeatist and introverted. So one can understand why Dr. Nazir-Ali longs for the clarity and robustness of the Roman Catholic Church, though there is room for doubt as to whether he will actually find it.
It is, after all, itself divided between traditionalists and liberals over issues such as abortion, contraception, priestly celibacy, and same-sex marriage.
All one can say with confidence is that if there were more pious and committed bishops like Michael Nazir-Ali in our People’s Church, it would send a stronger message out to a country that is drifting ever further from God.