“Be fruitful and multiply”. There is one man in England who has taken this old biblical call too seriously. His name is Ian Hellyer and together with his wife Margaret is raising not one but nine children. He is also more than well acquainted with the Holy Scriptures, being a Roman Catholic pastor. Yes, that is right, he is both a father and a priest, and yet there is no excommunication on the horizon for him. The story appeared a few days ago in English daily newspaper The Guardian. Beware though, the Fr. Ian affair is no theological trick. The 45 year father of nine was an Anglican priest until last year and following a spiritual journey and a course of study, he decided to convert to Catholicism.
Fr. Ian belongs to the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walshingam in England and Wales. Ordinariates were established two years ago by the Holy See: they are essentially new organisations and canonical structures that allow Anglican “defectors” who wish to join the Catholic Church, to keep some of their liturgical traditions. Above all, however, the Ordinariate grants former pastors special “permission” that authorises them to stay married. According to information obtained by the Vatican Insider from the Ordinariate and the English Episcopal Conference, there are currently 57 former Anglican pastors who have joined the Catholic Church. Forty two of these are married and Hellyer is one of them.