Influential Episcopal priest leaves parish to convert to Catholicism

An influential priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has announced that he will renounce his vows as a priest in the Episcopal church in order to convert to Catholicism and apply to become a Catholic priest.

Rev. Alvin F. Kimel Jr., rector of St. Mark's Church, told his 200-member parish about his decision in a letter Thursday.

The 55-year-old pastor and father of four also posted the letter on his Web blog May 19.

"In the name of an ideology of radical inclusivity, the Episcopal Church has moved significantly away from the apostolic and catholic faith of Jesus Christ," his letter read.

“With the decision made by General Convention two summers ago to approve the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions, it has, in my judgment, become heretical,” he continued.

"I cannot in conscience represent the Episcopal Church to the world, nor can I in conscience summon sinners into its fellowship,” he stated.

“As my wife and close friends can well testify, my life has been an agony for me since the 2003 General Convention. I have struggled to discern God’s will for my life and for my ministry,” he shared in his letter.

“I have had to reassess my understanding of the Church from the ground up. I have finally concluded that I cannot in conscience remain an Episcopalian. I must be in the Church founded by Christ Jesus. It is thus my intention to enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church,” he concluded.

It will be at least two years before Kimel can be ordained as a Catholic priest. He will first be considered a layman. A Catholic bishop, who is willing to have a married priest in his diocese, must sponsor him. He will then undergo an 18-month period of formation, including theological study. The Pope then must decide whether to approve his ordination.

Kimel is the 80th Episcopal priest to join the Catholic Church since 1980, when Pope John Paul II created the pastoral provision to enable married Episcopal priests to become married Catholic priests, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Kimel is one of six priests from the Diocese of Maryland who produced the 1991 Baltimore Declaration. The Declaration addressed the false teachings within the Episcopal church that Jesus is merely one savior among many for humankind, and that "eternal salvation is already given to the chosen people of Israel through the covenant of Abraham and Moses, independently of the crucified Christ."

For Kimel’s blog, go to:

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