Catholic Church in Spain Ordains First Married Priest

A former Anglican pastor who is married with two children led his first Mass Tuesday after being ordained recently by the Roman Catholic Church and becoming Spain's first married priest.

Evans David Gliwitzki, a 64-year-old former Anglican pastor, was ordained by the Bishop of Tenerife in the small town of La Laguna on the Canary Island, Saturday, Aug. 13. Yesterday, the new priest led his first Mass in the parish of Our Lady of Carmen, in La Laguna.

The recent promotion of the bishop to pastor came despite Catholicism's strong dogmatic tradition that insists that priest be celibate.

The spokesman to the Zimbabwe-born Gliwitzki, Bishop Felipe Fernandez, confirmed last week to hundreds of well-wishers from Britain and the United States outside the Church that Friar Evans "would continue being married to his wife, Patricia."

Bishop Fernandez denied, however, that Gliwitzki's promotion to priesthood was a sign a radical new shift in church policy.

He said that the ordination of Friar Evans was "a very singular exception" and denied any possibility that the move indicated "the abolition of the rule of celibacy for Catholic priests."

The Episcopal spokesman said that the ordination of the former Church of England minister was a "gesture of respect to the Anglican Church, which permits married priests" and said that the move was the result of ecumenical meetings in the Vatican between Anglicans and Catholics. The meetings were coordinated by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger prior to his election as pope and also attended by Friar Evans.

Friar Evans' case for priesthood had received the approval of Pope John Paul II prior to his death, as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury, according to the spokesman.

Gliwitzki's succession to priesthood is the end of a process beginning more than two years ago, which involved his being ordained as a deacon last June.