You’ve probably heard about the married Episcopal priests who converted to the Roman Catholic Church — and now are serving as non-celibate Catholic priests.
So, what happens when a female member of the Anglican clergy turns Catholic? What do you call her?
A church member.
That’s Una Kroll’s title. After a lifetime of spiritual searching, which included 10 years as an Anglican priest, she shocked family and friends by giving up her ministry to become a Catholic. Recently she explained her move in the British magazine the Tablet.
She tells how in January 1997 she was ordained a priest in the Church of Wales by the Bishop of Monmouth. Several happy pastoral years followed, then “just before Advent 2008 I became a Roman Catholic, not on impulse but after at least five years of trying to discern God’s will…”
She writes that her parish priest exclaimed, “Why are you joining a Church whose Pope and Vatican leaders are resolutely opposed to women priests?”
She replied: “I’m sorry, but I have to.”
She admits she disliked aspects of the Catholic Church, such as interpretations about “the exercise of papal and magisterial authority that were apparently being used to suppress discussion of difficult issues in the Church.” After all, such concentration of power in the all-male hierarchy “is always dangerous when all opposition can be suppressed.”
“Nonetheless,” writes Francis Phillips in the Catholic Herald, “she is now in a Catholic parish” where she acknowledges “lay men and women do not have any role at all in making decisions and in a diocese and Church where episcopal and priestly potestas holds sway. I am there, knowing that I cannot exercise a liturgical diaconal or priestly ministry, nor can I share in decision-making.”
Why would she do it? After all, she was a vocal leader in the campaign to allow women to enter the Anglican priesthood. She “choose to leave a satisfying leadership role in one church for the back pews in another: only the action of grace can bring about such a move,” writes Phillips.
Kroll explains it simply: “God gave me a direct push that I could not resist.”
“I was called by God to move to a church where I could not exercise dominion of any sort, but where I could still learn what servant priesthood actually meant when put into practice,” she writes in Tablet.
And, she writes, she is at peace.