The Archbishop of Westminster is to ordain three former Church of England bishops as Roman Catholic priests as a new Vatican scheme for disaffected Anglicans gets under way.
The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, who is leader of Catholics in England and Wales, will ordain Andrew Burnham, former bishop of Ebbsfleet, Keith Newton, ex-bishop of Richborough, and John Broadhurst, former bishop of Fulham, as Catholic priests.
The ceremony in Westminster Cathedral in London comes a fortnight after the three former Anglican clerics were received into the Catholic Church. They were ordained as Catholic deacons on Thursday at Allen Hall seminary in London.
The former bishops will be the first priests of the personal ordinariate of England and Wales, a scheme set up for groups of Anglicans who wish to join the Roman Catholic Church while retaining aspects of their Anglican heritage.
The ordinariate is expected to be joined by up to 50 Anglican clergy and two retired Church of England bishops.
Its formation comes after the Church of England voted last summer to press ahead with legislation to consecrate women bishops, a move opposed by Anglo-Catholic groupings within the Church.
The Most Rev Nichols has welcomed the former bishops into the Roman Catholic Church.
He has also paid tribute to the “sensitive” leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams.