August 22, 2005

Spain Catholic Church ordains first married priest

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's Roman Catholic church has for
the first time allowed a former Anglican minister who is
married with two children to be ordained as a priest.

David Evans, 65, from Zimbabwe has converted to Catholicism
and the Vatican has approved his ordination, the Tenerife
Diocese, where Fr. Evans has been assigned, said on Monday.

"Of course, David Evans will continue to be married to his
wife, Patricia, after his ordination as a priest," the diocese
added in a statement.

However the statement added that the case did not mark the
start of the Catholic church abolishing celibacy for priests.

"It is rather a very singular exception considering (Fr.
Evans') situation as a married man and his very particular
circumstances in coming from the Anglican church, a community
which allows its ministers to marry," it added.

The Roman Catholic Church has accepted about 200 married
Anglican ministers into its clergy in Britain and smaller
numbers from Anglican and Protestant churches in other
countries since Anglican ministers opposed to the ordination of
women began converting to Catholicism.

The Anglican church began ordaining women in 1992.

Fr. Evans, who is 64, is the son of an Anglican mother and
a Catholic father. His wife is also a Catholic, and they have
two daughters aged 30 and 40.

He chose Tenerife, in Spain's Canary Islands, because of
its mix of Christian religions as well as a high number of
English-speaking visitors and residents.

"With this ordination, my husband has come back to what was
always his home," Patricia Evans was quoted as saying in the

In recent years there have been several cases of priests
converting to the Catholic from the Anglican church. Within the
Catholic church married men may be ordained as permanent
deacons, but not as priests.

Spain is about 78 percent Catholic, a recent survey showed,
although more than half of those surveyed said they rarely
attended religious ceremonies.