Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson gave a report this afternoon on the progress of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that was livestreamed via the usccb.org website.
I took notes. Here are some highlights of his talk. (I missed the beginning).
Msgr. Steenson told the American bishops the Ordinariate has three employees, but can only afford to pay for one, the executive assistant. The Washington D.C. diocese is providing Fr. Scott Hurd for three years who is vicar general, and Steenson receives his sustenance from the Galveston-Houston archdiocese by teaching patristics at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston.
He described “a very busy life doing administrative work and teaching at the same time.”
“The human mind is not designed to teach and do administration at the same time,” he said, to laughter from the bishops.
He spoke of the formation of clergy, noting the second formation for clergy from the U.S. and Canada would be starting soon. “It’s a very accelerated program of four or five months,” he said.
It’s already been used twice in the United Kingdom, and was approved the CDF two years ago.
“We teach these classes at St. Mary’s Seminary through a marvelous distance learning” program? that was a gift of the Knights of the Columbus.
The lectures are structured on the Catechism, he said. ”We do not underestimate the challenges of forming priests.”
“I’m all too aware of the awesome steps of moving into full communion” and then into the priesthood so quickly, he said.
“We will have to notch up the question of post-ordination training in the future.”
“How are you going to pay for them?” he said is another “nightmare that has plagued my life” and that of his colleague Keith Newton.
He’s called for a prospective priests to provide a signed statement outlining their financial condition, including their future compensation, resources, indebtedness, retirement resources, saying he will only go forward when they are satisfied a priest can support himself.
Ordinariate clergy are allowed to receive compensation from work in local dioceses as well as from “compatible secular professions so we can provide adequate financial support.”
The Holy See has given instruction on how to establish Ordinariate communities, he said, noting the Pope called for close cooperation with local bishops.
“We’ve had our governing statutes approved,” he said. “The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has joined with us in asking for a deanery for canada and we have also set up particular norms which have been approved” ….(missed which dicastery approved them.)
Steenson said he wished to “pay tribute” to the Episcopal Delegate Cardinal Wuerl for his “wise counsel in laying the foundatinos for the Ordinariate.”
He also thanked him for helping to “found us under the title of the Chair of St. Peter, something we carry with great pride.”
Galvestan-Houston Cardinal DiNardo thanked Msgr. Steenson and his work and his “Catholic heart and mind to bring some very yearning priests and people to full coming with Rome whose reaction to all this is with thanksgiving and joy.
An Archbishop asked about married priests and whether they would be allowed to marry after they were ordained. Steenson said the priests being received right now are married, and this involves special permission by the Holy Father for each one. But after they are ordained they cannot remarry. [A celibate former Anglican priest cannot marry after he is ordained a Catholic priest].
Another bishop asked when ordinariate clergy might make their contributions in the form of books on the theological contributions of the Ordinariate, helping us to think more deeply, books on spirituality, or on insights into the thinking of Cardinal Newman.
“Certainly! Soon!, said Steenson who mentioned the reception recently of U.K. church historian Edward Norman.
“My prayer is that I might eventually have a little free time to write something myself,” he said, noting there were several well-trained men received into the Ordinariate who were capable of teaching at the seminary level.
Cardinal Wuerl offered a “word of appreciation to Msgr. Steenson” and thanked him for the “extraordinary job to organize this Ordinariate, launch it and provide it with direction.”
Wuerl then thanked his brother bishops. ”You welcomed this whole process with open arms,” he said. He also thanked Bishop Kevin Vann and Bishop Robert McManus for their help.
“Thank you all of your for welcoming this concept and actually making it possible,” Wuerl said.
A bishop asked about Anglican bishops wishing to come in and how one might follow their status. Steenson replied the Complementary Norms give recognition to the significance of that man’s ministry. ”He can be permitted to retain the symbols of the office he once held.”
“When men are ready to come forward, to make that step, we meet with them and make sure they recognize the significance of that step,” he said.
The “first read” goes to CDF, which determines whether there are any impediments to ordination. “Then it’s simply a pastoral process of helping the individual work through the spiritual and theological things that have to happen, the transitions . . “
“In my case it took two years,” he said, noting he went through the Pastoral Provision. ”The Ordinariate process practically speaking takes close to a year.”
Cardinal Dolan, the president of the USCCB, thanked Steenson for his presentation. ”We rejoice with you.”
Steenson ended by remarking “how wonderful it is to be Catholic. That’s what you would hear from us. We are so happy to be home!”
“Excellent!” said Dolan. “That’s the new evangelization!”