U.S. Anglican ordinariate officially erected; pope names former Episcopal bishop to lead it

Pope Benedict XVI has named a former Episcopal bishop who converted to Catholicism and was later ordained a Roman Catholic priest to head the new U.S. Anglican Ordinariate, which was officially established yesterday.

On Sunday, Jan. 1, the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, the Vatican announced that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had formally erected the Anglican ordinariate for the United States, and that Pope Benedict had named Fr. Jeffrey Neil Steenson as its first ordinary. 

Under the provisions of the apostolic constitution  Anglicanorum coetibus, issued on Nov. 4, 2009, such personal ordinariates can be established for Anglican converts to the Church and allows them to maintain some of their traditional liturgies and practices. The first such Anglican ordinariate was erected last year in Britain.

Fr. Steenson, 59, who is married and has three adult children, is currently Carl and Lois Davis Visiting Professor in Patristic Studies at the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, Texas, said a biography provided by the Vatican.

From 2004 to 2007, Fr. Steenson served as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In September 2007, Fr. Steenson announced he was resigning as an Episcopal bishop effective Dec. 1, 2007, when he was received into the Catholic Church. He petitioned Rome for ordination as a Catholic priest under special provisions allowing married Anglican clergy to be ordained as Catholic priests. After studying in Rome, Fr. Steenson was ordained on Feb. 21, 2009 and incardinated in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Fr. Steenson holds a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University, and a Masters degree from the Harvard Divinity School.

Provisions for Anglican ordinariates were established by Pope Benedict his 2009 apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus, which allows entire communities to enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and liturgical practices.

In a Nov. 15, 2011 announcement, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Vatican’s delegate for establishing a U.S. Anglican ordinariate, predicted that approximately 2,000 people would join the ordinariate as soon as it was formally erected.



Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 6:45 AM By California Teacher
Will there be any ordinate parishes in Northern California?

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 7:05 AM By MacDonald
Welcome to our new converts! We already have so MANY different types of Catholics (Syro-Malabar, Maronite, Chaldean, Byzantine, Melkite, Greek, etc.), it’s nice to add yet another family to our communion. It’s also a rather healthy corrective for those who claim the Tridentine Mass is the ONLY true way to worship — a look at our history shows otherwise. Our Catholic brethren have used many different languages and rites for 2,000 years, and God seems to be just fine with this diversity in the great Catholic communion.

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 9:15 AM By JLS
MacDonald, you don’t suppose that is because God can readily translate all those diverse languages into Latin, do you?

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 9:33 AM By Anne T.
Congratulations to Fr. Steenson, and California Teacher, your question is my question too. Along with the English interpretation of the Extraordinary Mass (Traditional Latin), the new English liturgy in the Ordinary Mass and the older English in the Anglican Use Mass, we should have far more beautiful English in use in the United States in our Masses than we have had since Vatican II. Mac Donald you are exactly right in your post todya at 7:05 AM. Nevertheless, the Latin Church must always retain Latin in some of its Masses, even in the United States.

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 9:35 AM By Maryanne Leonard
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 9:40 AM By Anne T.
It is possible, though, that with a future conbination of the Anglican Use Mass and the newer Ordinary Mass, we might end up with one very lovely English Mass in modern English along with the Extraordinary Mass.

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 10:15 AM By Bud
Welcome! The Ordinariate will have much to contribute and hopefully improve the English speaking Catholic’s hymnology and their beautiful choral works.

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 11:04 AM By SilverReed
Are there currently other Catholic rites in which married priests can be made ordinaries?

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 11:10 AM By Abeca Christian
Welcome! Now lets work on bringing back more from other Christian sects to join Christ’s church.

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 12:26 PM By Traditional Angelo
May God be praised! I look forward to attending a Divine Liturgy in the Anglican Rite. I sure hope they are open to attending a Latin Tridentine Mass. They probably know that the Old Latin Mass converted one of their own, namely St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 12:33 PM By Traditional Angelo
Abeca Christian, Years ago I read of an approved apparition of Our Lady. Our Lady foretold, “A Protestant nation from the North shall convert, and the rest shall follow.” Could this be the nation prophesized by Our Lady? As England is a Northern Nation. God Bless!

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 12:34 PM By acatholic
Interesting that you did not mention that these new Catholics must promise not to practice birth control. Maybe there should be a test for those who pretend to be Catholic and who continue to practice birth control

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 1:05 PM By MacDonald
@ JLS — you make a good point. God is even more multi-lingual than the Pope on Christmas Day, so he can translate everything. A bumper sticker recently: “Honk if you speak Latin / Sona si latine loqueris.”

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 3:42 PM By Abeca Christian
Traditional Angelo that is neat. Maybe it is. : )

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 4:21 PM By Larry
I understand that you cannot belong to the Ordinariate unless you were once an Anglican. Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to whether this means that we longtime Latin-rite Catholics cannot attend mass or receive Communion in the Anglican Ordinariate–or perhaps you just can’t belong to the parishes, get married there, etc. I’m very curious. I have a feeling I might enjoy the experience of an Anglican-rite Catholic mass, judging from the beauty of the Anglican Church prayers and the ceremonies that we see on television whenever members of the British Royal Family have weddings, funerals, coronations, etc.

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 4:37 PM By Dave
acatholic — What makes you think that “these new Catholics,” as you refer to them, will continue to use birth control? Why so cynical? Surely these Anglican-turned-Catholic priests know VERY well what the Church teaches and are determined to live by it!

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 6:09 PM By JLS
I can’t honk on that one, MacDonald, but I hear the Canada geese honking … maybe they are closer to God than I, or at least to the heavens.

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 6:17 PM By goodcause
Welcome to our new brethren! To make the circle complete, let’s now allow Catholic priests to take advantage of the same right given to the Anglican ordinarites to marry. If married clergy is good enough for the Pope, it’s good enough for me.

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 6:36 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Larry, 4:21 PM, There is only One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, and it has many Churches within it. The Latin Rite is the largest of many. Of course you can attend an Anglican Catholic Mass. The first one I attended was years ago at a Wandere Forum, a Forum that featured a Novus Ordo, a Tridentine, and an Anglican Catholic Mass. Most if not all of those who attended, came away with the distinct impression that the Anglican Catholic Mass was much closer to the Tridentine, sort of a Tridentine with the vernacular. I don’t think you are correct here either: “I understand that you cannot belong to the Ordinariate unless you were once an Anglican.”! God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 10:42 PM By JLS
Historically, the groups with married priests are the ones which were conquered by the various governments. The Roman Church with celibate priests has never been conquered by secular govt.

Posted Tuesday, January 03, 2012 12:39 AM By Traditional Angelo
Larry, I totaly agree with Kenneth M. Fisher. On you tube there is an Anglican Rite Mass. It is like Kenneth M. Fisher says, a Tridentine Mass in the vernacular. If one puts it on mute, one would think it was a Tridentine Mass. I showed it to my wife and she really thought it was the Tridentine Mass. The Church discourages from turning from one Catholic Rite to another. But does not absolutely prohibit it.

Posted Tuesday, January 03, 2012 7:30 AM By Larry
goodcause: I don’t believe that either the Orthodox or any of the Eastern Catholic Rites allow “priests…to marry.” What they DO allow, in some cases, is for married men to become priests. But once a priest, you’re never allowed to marry. I also believe that already-married men who are allowed into the priesthood are not consecrated bishops.

Posted Tuesday, January 03, 2012 10:13 AM By JLS
I emailed the pastor of the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church in San Antonio, if he knows of a list of other such parishes around the nation. When I googled, it took me a while to find an authentic RC parish, as there are all sorts of very similar sounding churches the websites of which one has to read carefully before finding out that they are not Roman Catholic, even though their sites include the phrase.

Posted Tuesday, January 03, 2012 11:38 AM By Larry
Kenneth: Part I, section 4 of Anglicanorum Coetibus says the following: “The Ordinariate is composed of lay faithful, clerics and members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, originally belonging to the Anglican Communion and now in full communion with the Catholic Church, or those who receive the Sacraments of Initiation within the jurisdiction of the Ordinariate.” Clearly it states that in order to belong to the Ordinariate, you must have been an Anglican or have been baptized into the Ordinariate. So that excludes you and me. My question is simply: to what extent can non-members of the Ordinariate partake in the Ordinariate’s liturgy? May we participate in mass? Receive Communion? Or does this simply mean that the Ordinary will have no direct authority over us–that we will continue to answer to our Latin Rite Ordinary? You see what I’m asking.

Posted Tuesday, January 03, 2012 2:03 PM By Abeca Christian
Larry all that stuff is confusing. Where can we go and get the right answers, maybe a good priest can guide us, going through this website, we may get a lot of different answers. I’ll just still to attending my current parishes. Playing it safe.

Posted Tuesday, January 03, 2012 3:39 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Larry, 11:38 PM, Yes I do see the problems. I am not sure of your interpretation of the Document. It probably, like so many of the Vatican’s documents, will have to be further explained. I know I don’t have to have already been a member of an Eastern Rite Church including some who originally went with the schism but returned later to become such, and I don’t understand why that would be so for the Anglican Rite. Very good questions though. God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Tuesday, January 03, 2012 6:20 PM By Larry
Well, Ken, I guess that makes two of us who aren’t sure how to interpret it. Clearly, the pope’s order says that the Ordinariate consists of former Anglicans and those baptized within the Ordinariate–which means it does NOT consist of you or I, and probably most everyone on this website. But like you, I have no idea how to interpret that as regards participation of non-Anglican-Catholics in the Anglo liturgy-parish life, etc, and I hope somebody–either the editor or some poster–can enlighten us. Does it mean, for instance, that we could participate to the extent that any guest or visitor to a parish not his own could do so? For instance, when I go to some other parish, I can participate in mass, receive Communion and go to confession–but I could not be a lector or usher–could not get married there or have my funeral there. Would that be the effect, or am I missing something? I think it’s a question which needs to be answered–and I don’t have that answer.

Posted Tuesday, January 03, 2012 6:37 PM By Anne T.
The “Anglican Use Society” website will give you most of the information you need. The Anglican churches that are in union with Rome are called Anglican Use. Our Lady of Walshingham Church in Texas is Anglican use. I think its official title is Our Lady of Walsingham Anglican Use Catholic church.

Posted Tuesday, January 03, 2012 6:44 PM By JLS
It is my informed understanding that a Roman Catholic can receive Holy Communion in an eastern Orthodox Church, say Greek, Russian, etc., and that since their sacraments are valid, they can be received by Roman Catholics.

Posted Tuesday, January 03, 2012 7:03 PM By Anne T.
Abeca Christian, it is confusing because a lot of Anglican churches that are not united with Rome call themselves Anglican Catholic, although they broke from Rome after King Henry VIII. The Anglican churches that have united with Rome and have valid ordinations and Masses (Divine Liturgy) are called Anglican Use Catholic. They use the same liturgy as the others but with corrections made and approved by the Holy Father. Once a married priest’s wife dies in the Anglican Use Catholic or Eastern Catholic Churches, he cannot remarry and still perform his priestly duties.

Posted Tuesday, January 03, 2012 7:14 PM By Anne T.
The “Anglican Use Society” has links to other Anglican Use Catholic Churches but they all seem to be in Maryland, Pennsylvania or Texas and none so far in the West as I can see. They do not offer the Book of Divine Worship for sale at present, but Our Lady of Atonement should still be selling it.

Posted Tuesday, January 03, 2012 7:31 PM By Anne T.
Traditional Angelo, England was and still is called by some Catholics, “Our Lady”s Dowry”. Years ago both the Catholics and the Anglicans rebuild shrines at Walsingham where Our Lady of Walsingham Shrine was first build. You can put “Our Lady of Walsingham Shrine” in your search bar, and a website from England will come up with access to both those shrines. Henry the VIII and Cromwell destroyed many beautiful monesteries and shrines in England. I believe it was Oliver Cromwell who destroyed Our Lady of Walingham. There was a poem written by an American poet entitled, I think, “The Graveyard at Nantucket” which mentions Walsingham. One of the stanzas says “And the world should come to Walsingham.”

Posted Wednesday, January 04, 2012 12:05 PM By Larry
It is correct that Eastern Orthodox sacraments are valid, but from our standpoint they are illicitly administered since the Orthodox are out of communion with Rome. I was taught that we may NOT attend mass or receive any sacraments in an “Orthodox” church. However, WHEN IN IMMINENT DANGER OF DEATH, we may receive absolution from an Orthodox priest, but only then–not normally. We are NOT allowed to practice our faith in any church NOT in full submission to Rome, regardless of the validity of their sacraments and regardless of whether they do or do not have Apostolic Succession.

Posted Wednesday, January 04, 2012 4:20 PM By Abeca Christian
Larry I was taught that too, so I agree with you. Even though I have relatives who are Orthodox, I usually try to not attend their church but have attended their Baptisms because of my family relations. Anne T thanks great info.

Posted Wednesday, January 04, 2012 7:02 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Larry and Abeca, I was taught that we could even recieve the Blessed Sacrament from them when we have no other choice such as visiting a location where there is no Roman or Uniate Church available. Uniate means “in Union with Rome”. So I beg to differ with you both. God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Wednesday, January 04, 2012 8:07 PM By Abeca Christian
Well Mr. Fisher I don’t know what to tell you other than that because in my area we have a lot of Roman or Uniate churches, so this does apply to us, perhaps that is why were taught that. Simple as that. We are not left without Rome in San Diego, so we can not say we are without Rome and have no choice but to attend a non-Uniate church.

Posted Wednesday, January 04, 2012 10:00 PM By Anne T.
A correction to my Jan. 3rd post at 7:31 PM: the stanza from Robert Lowell’s poem “A Graveyard In Nantucket should read “And the world shall come to Walsingham” instead of “should”.

Posted Thursday, January 05, 2012 11:07 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Abeca, If you were taught that, you were taught wrongly. I have even discussed this with good Bishops. A Catholic who cannot find a Roman, or Uniate Church can in fact receive the Blessed Sacrament at an Orthodox Church. God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Friday, January 06, 2012 11:03 AM By Abeca Christian
Mr. Fisher I want to add more clarity to this thread, yes you are right, I was told ONLY if there were no Roman or Uniate church near by but since we are not in that situation, I was taught to not do so. I live in a area where Roman or Uniate churches do not lack. So why receive communion and attend an Orthodox church. I don’t see any logic in that. I think there was a misunderstanding. I was taught against it because I have many churches under the Pope that I can receive from. Knowing the history of the Orthodox church and how they tried to excommunicate our Pope in the early times and our Pope excommunicated their Bishop because they did not agree that the Pope was the head, then I don’t care to attend any of their churches. There is also difference in teachings on the Trinity or something of the nature, I don’t recall. I have relatives who are Orthodox, some refuse to attend our Roman churches because of their strong convictions against what happened that separated them. One even told me that they were the true church that Christ started and we are not, that we broke away. So for that reason I refuse to attend their Mass because it would give them more a reason to believe their distorted theology. I have my Latin mass and my Maronite Mass that I attend, there is no need for me to attend one of their Orthodox churches.

Posted Friday, January 06, 2012 11:16 AM By Abeca Christian
If I were in the Middle East and the only church there was, was an Orthodox one, then yes I can be allowed to receive. But I am not in that situation so therefore, I have no need to attend their services.

Posted Friday, January 06, 2012 8:05 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Abeca, That is exactly what I said! I also understand that some Orthodox churches will not allow Roman Catholics to recieve in their Churches, which is wrong under the conditions I have explained. By the way, that condition applies both ways, Orthodox can receive in Roman Churches under those conditions as well. My Maronite Confessor allows them to recieve, God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Saturday, January 07, 2012 12:24 PM By Anne T.
Also, Tradtional Angelo, many Anglicans have a devotion to St. James. They even wear his cross, which is in the shape of a sword. Evidently they remember how St. James appeared to the Spanish army when they refused to hand over their virgin women to the caliph for his harem and fought the Moors to the end and won back Spain. Long live St. James!

Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2012 2:49 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Anne T. Where can I find out more about your above posting on St. James? God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher