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He's fair game for Internet trolls

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
October 22, 2021

Former Bishop, soon-to-be Father Michael Nazir-Ali has taken heat for his conversion from Anglicanism, specifically the Church of England, to the Church of Rome and Roman Catholicism through the Anglican Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Pundits -- right, left and center -- are finding him fair game.

The media coverage breaks down into Anglican reporting, Catholic reporting, religious and secular reporting. Each has its own view and understanding of the still-unfolding story.

As a result, the Internet comments also break down into three categories: mostly welcoming (Catholic), mostly critical (Anglican), and outright cruel (Internet trolls).

Anglicans, understandably, are upset by the bishop's "defection." They feel betrayed that he has abandoned Anglican theology which is rooted in the Five Solas of the Reformation -- Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone"); Sola fide ("by faith alone"); Sola gratia ("by grace alone"); Solus Christus ("Christ alone"); and Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone") which were championed by Martin Luther.

Anglicans also feel that Bishop Nazir-Ali has turned his back on the Anglican Formularies which encapsulate solid Anglican faith and practice. They criticize his motives and now doubt his salvation.

"MNA has apostasized ..."

"Absolutely right. In effect Bp Nazir-Ali has abandoned the gospel ..."

"Sorry ... given the many, many ongoing heresies of the RCC, there can be NO VALID REASON to make this move, especially since some orthodox Anglican provinces still exist, including some good Continuing Anglican churches ..."

"I am so sorry he has forsaken the Anglican faith. And looking myself I cannot support this move. Orthodox Anglicanism for me, articulated in the 39 Articles, is the best form of the Christian faith available ..."

"Disaffection with Anglicanism is not sufficient to join the Roman Catholic Church. Nazir-Ali has to renounce his old beliefs and fully accept those of Roman Catholicism like Gavin Ashenden did ..."

"Why are people so blind to the evil gospel that the Roman Catholic Church preaches ..."

"Former Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali: out of the Anglican frying pan into the Roman Catholic fire?"

"One is left to wonder if the apparently well intentioned man hasn't jumped from the frying pan into the fire. One can hope that he will not loose his cognitive acumen in dealing with our cesspool ..."

"Given the state of the liturgy and theology in the present day 'catholic' church the difference between us and the Anglicans would seem to be the difference between Tweedledee and Tweedledum ..."

"I am intrigued that he should forsake the patrimony of his heroes of the Anglican Church who were closely alligned with the Evangelical Movement, in order to take upon himself the patrimony of the Bishop of Rome ..."

"What a tragedy that Bishop Michael has abandoned the faith once delivered to the saints and has joined a church which denies the true gospel. I pray that he may, by God's grace, change his mind ..."

"It is difficult to call such a man an evangelical. What does he see in the Church or any Church? Just a moralist group of people whose Sunday highlight is morning tea ..."

"I'm not sure how someone can become Catholic after being CofE because there are some significant teachings in the Catholic church that are totally different to the CofE, so has he just changed his mind on those or is doing lip service to them ..."

"Catholicism has differences to protestant Christianity and are both at odds with each other so how can he have been a protestant all his life and suddenly flip flop to Catholicism? Doesn't make sense to me. Couldn't have been that dedicated to his faith after all ..."

"I feel sorry for anyone in any Church who does not trust in Christ alone for their salvation. The Roman Catholic Church does not. It is full of heresy ..."

"I get it why he left, but joining the Catholic Church, which is twice as bad in every way, was not a great move. He is in for a shock ..."

"Very little difference in the churches so what does he mean the church has lost its way ? The Catholic church is more about the Virgin Mary and prayers to the saints though ..."

"I've seen lists of folks who 'swum the Tiber.' I haven't seen any of these gentlemen express the theological/doctrinal reasons ..."

"Has +Nazir-Ali changed his mind on certain doctrines? At the very least see what have to accept the dogma on the magisterium e.g.: ex cathedra, papal primacy and papal universality ..."

"I have huge sympathy for this man. This is why I can never again regard myself as CofE. However neither can I get on board with a man, chosen by other men who has proved time and again throughout history to be just like other men, greedy, immoral and often quite wicked ..."

Catholics, on the other hand, are, for the most part, pleased to see the Anglican bishop "Come Home to Rome." They feel it is the most logical place for any Anglican to eventually gravitate to.

"We need soldiers in the trenches...and leaders to speak to TRUTH...in love... We just got a General. Amen."

"As an ex Anglican I am delighted at this news ..."

"Welcome home, Father Nazir-Ali. Any convert is a blessing, but a convert who dedicates his life to helping the persecuted is truly a gift ...."

"Michael Nazir-Ali, with loving hearts we welcome you to the Catholic Church! We're grateful for the deep faith and many gifts you'll bring to our Church ..."

"Welcome home, good sir. Don't let the secularists in the Catholic Church try to demean you. We support you fully!!!!"

"Moreover, to move from Anglican Bishop with high esteem to Catholic priest is both a lesson in humility and an inspiration to others of the value of our Catholic faith ..."

"The beauty of this man's entry into the church and his enduring search for the truth bear out the humility of his spirit and one can almost feel his sense of rejoicing ..."

"Nazir-Ali isn't the kind of convert we are looking for under the Francis pontificate Where does this nonsense come from? Bishop Nazir-Ali seems to me to be exactly the sort of convert we need. Tough on homosexuality and tough on Islam -- he has more guts and more integrity than many Catholic Bishops in the west ..."

"And shame on the Bergoglians for trying to discourage a man from being received into the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Saving souls is more important than Wokeness and Ecumania ..."

"Shame on Pope Francis for not wanting to convert a former Anglican prelate to the Catholic priesthood. It interferes with his ecumenism ..."

"PF does hate it. PF said that since he was already a Christian it was unnecessary for him to become Catholic, really PF! He said it took away from the Ecumenism ..."

"Don't worry future Father Nazir-Ali. The Protestants also criticized St. John Henry Newman when he converted. You are in good company. Welcome home!!!"

Not everyone agrees: "The Ordinariate was supposed to be a temporary arrangement but it has turned into an anglican church within Catholicism. I am afraid that he sees it as a better club, at present, than Anglicanism. I find it ironic and distasteful that the Ordinariate are allowed to use at least some of the Book of Common Prayer with Cranmer's prayers etc etc while the Tridentine Liturgy is being cast into exterior darkness. This is simply not a conversion in the style of Newman and I grieve for the anglicanisation of the Church ..."

The secular media doesn't really have an understanding of the theology behind the unexpected conversion and the pushback to it. Usually, however, they willingly seek a talking head -- Catholic or Anglican -- to gain insight and who will give them a good sound bite or printable quote.

The English press have their "go to" persons when they need some deeper understanding into a religious story, particularly Church of England news. Bishop Nazir-Ali had been one of them. Now, as the Nazir-Ali story unfolded, the British media had to turn to Monsignor Keith Newton of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham; Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby; and the former Queen's Chaplain Gavin Ashenden. All personally know Michael Nazir-Ali and are well versed in Anglican and/or Catholic theology and internal church structure.

The Internet trolls, hiding behind their screen names, are many times just plain mean in their comments and purposely try to inflict emotional pain. They really don't care one way or the other about the substance of the story. They are just interested in rocking the boat and creating discord among the readers to encourage even more commenting.

"this guy is a 'trojan horse' and will be made a cardinal. he is the awaited 'bridge' between islam and christianity and will be considered for pope ..."

"conversion"? That is far from the appropriate term. At most is a transition. Sad and unthinkable!"

"When the head honcho discovered his inner Communist, the church was lost ..."

"Religion smeligion ..."

"Does he give up is CofE pension?"

"Does anybody really care what idiosyncratic alinement this chap makes to anything. Complete bunkum ..."

"Why do you religious ppl need a church? Can't you read yourselves? I've read your bible and a bunch of other religious texts. It's the surest way to confirm your atheism ..."

"So he leaves CofE and joins the biggest bunch of hypocrites ever ..."

"You don't think he's got his eye on the top job in Rome?"

"Who cares what form of fancy dress these useless people wear to 'work'? What on earth do bishops DO all day?"

"So, he's believing a different fairytale now?"

"The lefty elite who run the c of E have systematically destroyed it. The hate from that curate of colour towards captain Tom showed us all the church is finished ..."

"The Anglican church and the catholic church are 2 harlots out of the same brothel ..."

Some of the Anglican websites which have covered Bishop Nazir-Ali's Tiber swim include: Virtue Online, Anglican Mainstream, Anglican Unscripted, Episcopal Cafe, The Living Church, Anglican Ink, The Church Times, San Joaquin Soundings, Center for Reformation Anglicanism, Positive Infinity, and the Anglican Down Under to name a few.

On the Catholic side of things, some media outlets include: Church Militant (which broke the story); EWTN, National Catholic Register, Lifesite News, the Tablet-UK, Crisis Magazine, Catholic World Report, Standing on my Head, Catholic News Agency, Aleteia, the Catholic Herald-UK, Catholic News-NZ, and the Daily Advent.

The Church of England bishop's move to the Catholic Church is not a large story of wide interest outside of the Anglican-Catholic world. However, some general Protestant religious media have picked up on the story including: Ecumenical News, Premier Christian News, Eternity News, Christian Today, and Christian Daily.

A few secular news organizations, mostly British, also tackled the story including: the Telegraph, The Times, the Daily Mail, the Independent, the Spectator-UK, The Article, and the Nigerian Paradise.

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline.

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