The wife of a Church of Ireland bishop has converted to Roman Catholicism, the Associated Press reports.
Anita Henderson formally converted Sunday in the private chapel of Catholic Bishop John Fleming in Ballina, County Mayo in the west of Ireland. Her husband, Church of Ireland Bishop Richard Henderson, and their three children, were present for the ceremony.
The two bishops issued a joint statement, saying "Her decision, made after much heart-searching, deserves the respect of us all and we trust that all people of goodwill will share in this." They continued: "This is a time of unprecedented hospitality, friendship and collaboration between our local churches. ...We believe that such genuine and honest searching is a positive indicator in these times - and will not go unrewarded by the God we all strive to love and serve."
"This is the culmination of a long journey of spiritual searching," Mrs. Henderson said in a statement. "I feel under God that is what I am being called to do."
Mrs. Henderson, whose father is also a Church of Ireland minister, has been involved in ecumenical cooperation in Ireland. She has attended Catholic retreats at a County Sligo community of American monks and nuns, and the couple's three children all have attended a Catholic convent school.
Archbishop Alan Harper, head of the Anglican-affiliated Church of Ireland, affirmed the importance of religious liberty. He also called for prayers for the couple. "She has made what was for her and her husband a particularly difficult decision and a particularly difficult move. We must now pray that they are sustained in their integrity and continuing ministry. ...There are some awkwardnesses," he said.