Three former Anglican bishops have made history by becoming the first to be ordained as Catholic priests under a new scheme set up by the Vatican.
The most Rev Vincent Nichols, leader of Catholics in England and Wales, ordained Andrew Burnham, former bishop of Ebbsfleet, Keith Newton, ex-bishop of Richborough, and John Broadhurst, former bishop of Fulham, as Catholic priests at a service at Westminster Cathedral in London.
They are the first members of an Ordinariate specially set up by the Pope, for groups of Anglicans who wish to join the Roman Catholic Church while retaining aspects of their Anglican heritage.
The packed congregation included hundreds of priests from the Diocese of Westminster, along with Bishop Alan Hopes, Archbishop Bernard Longely, from Birmingham, and trainee priests.
Rev Nichols told them: “Many ordinations have take place in this cathedral during the 100 years of its history. But none quite like this.
“Today is a unique occasion marking a new step in the life and history of the Catholic Church.
“This morning the establishment of the first Personal Ordinariate under the provision of the Apostolic Constitution ‘Anglicanorum Coetibus’ has been announced in our hearing.”