MADRID, Spain — Spain got its first married priest this weekend when a Canary island bishop ordained an Anglican pastor as a Roman Catholic priest, news reports said Monday.
Zimbabwe-born Evans David Gliwitzki, who has two daughters aged 30 and 40, was ordained Sunday in the town of La Laguna on the island of Tenerife by Bishop Felipe Fernandez, leading daily El Pais said.
The bishop said the marriage had the full support of Spain’s Roman Catholic Church. He said it was an exceptional case to favor unity between churches and did not in any way signal a departure from the Catholic church’s insistence that its priests be celibate.
”It’s a gesture of respect toward the Anglican Church, which does permit matrimony (among ministers),” El Pais quoted Fernandez as saying.
”In Britain, it’s more common for Anglican ministers to become Catholic priests although this is the first case in Spain,” he added.
Cutting off speculation that the move could signal some change in church policy, the bishop said the marriage was a ”one-off exception, adding that ”no door is being opened to the absolution of celibacy,” El Pais quoted him as saying.
Spain’s Catholic church was rocked recently by the Socialist government’s introduction of a bill permitting gay marriages. The church has also strongly opposed a government move making religion an optional subject in schools and one which does not count in exams.
Gliwitzki, son of a Polish Catholic and Anglican mother, worked for the Zimbabwe rail company, El Pais said. He was ordained a minister in 1984 and has long worked for the unity of Christians, organizing many conferences between ministers and priests of the two churches.
His conversion to Catholicism began several years ago when he sought permission from the bishop of Zimbabwe. Spain’s Bishop’s Conference, the church’s leading authority in Spain, agreed to his ordination two and a half years ago, El Pais reported. His first posting will be in a town in the south of Tenerife island, located off the northwest coast of Africa.
While there are many things in common between the Anglican and Catholic churches, two major difference are that the Anglican faith allows for women to be ministers and sees the monarch of England, not the pope in Rome, as the supreme church authority.