by Martin Newland A LINGUIST employed by GCHQ in Cheltenham is to be Britain's fifth married Catholic priest.
Father of five David McDonald was ordained a minister in the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1953, but three years later he converted to Catholicism before marrying his wife Margaret, herself a Catholic, two years later. He is now a parishioner at St Gregory's, Cheltenham.
Mr McDonald is a Master of Arts of Aberdeen University and a Bachelor of Divinity and Master of Theology of Heythrop College, London University. After converting he taught Classics in Scotland, spent four years in Ghana and was an Education Officer for the RAF for 19 years.
Bishop Mervyn Alexander of Clifton received permission to ordain Mr McDonald in May this year after the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pope himself approved the application. Mr McDonald is to be ordained to the Diaconate at the weekend and to the priesthood in March 1989.
As has been the custom in such cases, Mr McDonald will not be assigned to a parish of his own, but will help the bishop with administrative and educational work in Clifton Diocese. In the past Rome and the English hierarchy have been quick to point out that ordaining married converts by no means paves the way towards optional celibacy.