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Former Episcopal minister considers Catholic priesthood

.- A former Episcopal priest, who left the Episcopal Church over its ongoing debates on doctrine, is considering becoming a Catholic priest.

Phil Webb told the Denver Post he decided to leave the Episcopal Church about three years ago after 16 years as a clergyman primarily because it was tearing itself apart over changes in doctrine and debates on the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of women and gay bishops.

"I just came to believe that if Christ founded a church, you wouldn't be forced to leave it," he was quoted as saying. "The Catholic Church has a clearer understanding of what it means to be one, holy and apostolic church.”

The 52-year-old husband and father has taken many of the steps required of to pursue ordination in the Catholic Church, including petitioning the Church, obtaining the local bishop’s permission, studying theology for a year and passing written and oral tests. But he has not yet made a final decision.

"I need to be ready spiritually," Webb reportedly said. "The care of souls is an intimidating responsibility."

In the meantime, he is working in the Archdiocese of Denver's Marriage and Family Life Office, where he counsels engaged couples. He said he'd like to keep his current position but recognizes that entering the priesthood could mean a new post.

Webb said there is nothing envious about being a married priest. 

"It's a burden to carry around two vocations in life," Webb said. Even as a married Protestant minister, Webb said one is always robbing time from one vocation for the sake of the other.

His wife, Cindy, was raised Catholic and converted to the Episcopal Church for her husband after they married.

Pope John Paul II approved the Pastoral Provision of the Catholic Church in 1980, which permits former male Episcopal priests, even married men with children, to pursue priesthood in the Catholic Church. The pope granted the provision at the request of breakaway Episcopalians troubled by a 1976 decision to ordain women.

In the past 27 years, more than 80 former Episcopal ministers in the United States have been ordained Catholic priests.

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