Ordinariate for Ex-Anglicans Established in US

Dedicated to Chair of St. Peter

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican announced today the establishment of a U.S. ordinariate for Anglicans seeking full communion with Rome under the stipulations outlined in «Anglicanorum coetibus.»

In announcing the establishment of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith also announced the leader of the new ordinariate: Father Jeffrey N. Steenson, a former Episcopal bishop. In 2005, he was made bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande in New Mexico. On Dec. 1, 2007, he resigned as bishop and was received into the Catholic Church.

Subsequently Fr. Steenson studied at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. He was ordained to the diaconate in 2008, and to the priesthood on Feb. 21, 2009. Since then he has taught at the University of St. Thomas and at St. Mary’s Seminary, both in Houston, Texas. Fr. Steenson is married and has three grown children.

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter will be based at Our Lady of Walsingham Parish in Houston.

An ordinariate is similar to a diocese, though national in scope. It will include parishes, groups and individuals of the Anglican heritage across the United States. Parishes will be fully Catholic, while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage, particularly in the liturgy.

«The Pope’s gracious response represents an important and exciting new step along the difficult path toward Christian unity,» declared a message on the Web site of the ordinariate.

According to report by the Associated Press, Fr. Steenson decided to leave the Episcopal church after they elected the first openly homosexual bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. 

True home of Anglicanism

At the time Fr. Steenson said he was «deeply troubled» about the direction of the U.S. denomination and he described the Catholic Church as the «true home of Anglicanism.»

Reportedly more than 100 Anglican priests and more than 1,400 individuals have applied to become Catholic in the U.S. ordinariate. 

The U. S. ordinariate is the second to be established following the Pope’s decision in 2009 to create a structure for Anglicans who wished to unite to the Catholic Church. In November 2009, Benedict XVI issued an apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus, which authorized the ordinariates. The first ordinariate was established in England and Wales in January 2011.

Monsignor Keith Newton, ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (England and Wales), welcomed the move. In a statement on that ordinariate’s Web site he said: «Fr. Steenson is a warm and compassionate priest with a wealth of experience, and I am delighted by his appointment.» 

«As we enter in 2012, we pray that many more will take up Christ’s call — ut unum sint — and fulfill the prayer of generations for an Anglicanism united but not absorbed,» he added.

«Today’s events are the fulfillment of the hopes of many Anglicans in the United States who have longed and prayed for reconciliation with the Catholic Church while retaining cherished elements of the Anglican patrimony,» said Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington.

Cardinal Wuerl was the Vatican’s representative for the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus in the United States.

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On the Net:

Text of the decree: http://www.usordinariate.org/images/CSP_Decree.pdf

U. S. ordinariate Web site: http://www.usordinariate.org/

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