By Paul Donovan, Independent Catholic News:
The first Ordinary of the recently-established Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Father Keith Newton, has a strong belief in the importance of working for social justice, insisting that you cannot be a Christian without working for Kingdom values while on earth.
Speaking from his home in Woodford Green, East London this week, Father Newton said he believes the Anglican and Catholic Churches have a lot of common ground in their approach to issues like abortion. But he was also keen to stress the importance of interpreting pro-life in its broadest sense of from cradle to grave. “Third world debt is equally as important as abortion,” said Fr Newton, who sees confronting poverty in the world as key priority for Christians.
The newly-received Catholic priest said he believes there is an anti-Christian attitude in much of society. “There is a secularisation in Britain, it would be too strong though to say there is a persecution,” said Fr Newton. “I’m not sure how far Britain could be called a Christian country now.”
But Fr Newton also is convinced that the message Pope Benedict brought last September has had a profound effect on society here.
He thinks that faith schools have a key role in the future formation of the faithful. “We do need to educate children in the faith because there is sadly little religious education in state schools,” said Fr Newton, who is less concerned about those parents who come to the Church to get their children into the schools, then leave later. “It is all about seeds sown and others may reap the harvest,” he concluded.
The former Anglican Bishop of Richborough, Fr Newton was received into the Roman Catholic Church on 1 January 2011, at Westminster Cathedral, with his wife Gill, by Bishop Alan Hopes with two other former Angican bishops and their wives. On 13 January 2011 he was ordained to the diaconate. Two days later, on 15 January 2011, he was ordained to the priesthood by Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, in Westminster Cathedral. On this date Pope Benedict XVI appointed him the first Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and Wales.