Leaders of the Anglican Ordinariate urged patience and restraint in light of statements by the Bishop of Argentina that Pope Francis did not favor the creation of a home for Anglicans in the Catholic Church.
George Conger reports:
In a note released after the election of Pope Francis on 13 March 2013, the Bishop of Argentina and former primate of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables, said Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was, in his experience, “consistently humble and wise, outstandingly gifted yet a common man” who had been a friend to Anglicans in Argentina.
Bishop Venables said Cardinal Bergoglio “called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the church needs us as Anglicans.”
He later clarified his statement noting the cardinal’s comments were more an affirmation of Anglicanism than criticism of the Ordinariate.
The report from Bishop Venables sparked controversy in the British press and speculation Francis might adopt the different tone than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. A spokesman for the English Ordinariate denied any change was in the offing telling the Telegraph the comments were Bishop Venables’ not the Pope’s.
Following the resignation of Pope Benedict last month, Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary of the Chair of St. Peter, said: “We members of the Ordinariate are in a particular way the spiritual children of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Throughout his years as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and especially as Pope, the reconciliation of Anglicans to the Catholic Church has been one of his principal tasks.”
He noted that “when Pope Benedict issued the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus in November 2009, he laid a permanent foundation for the Ordinariate, to be the means to reconcile Anglican groups to the Catholic Church and that this Anglican patrimony might be shared with the Catholic Church. While the Ordinariate has been a special intention of Pope Benedict, it is now firmly established in the Catholic Church and will continue to serve as an instrument for Christian unity.”
Msgr. Steenson said the transition between Popes “should not greatly impact the work of the Ordinariate. We should probably expect that the ordinations of our candidates could be delayed slightly, as the Pope must approve these petitions.”
Following the publication of Bishop Venables’ remarks Msgr. Steenson said he had received a number of inquiries from those “who are concerned about what our new Pope’s attitude may be toward the Ordinariates, occasioned by an anecdotal report from an Anglican bishop in Argentina.”
He reaffirmed the “real permanence and stability” of the Ordinariate within the Catholic Church, and added “but it is even more important to remember what it means to be Catholic, to have the full assurance that faith brings. Christ the Good Shepherd entrusted the governance of the Church to St. Peter and his successors. To be in communion with Peter brings a confidence we never knew as Anglicans. Pope Francis understands the pilgrim character of our communities and will be a wise and caring pastor to us,” Msgr. Steenson said.
Peregrinus has the news:
Dateline: Houston, Texas
Feast of the Presentation, 2013
In the presence of three cardinals, bishops and staff of the Seminary of St. Mary in Houston along with deacons, priests with their wives and candidates for ordination for the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, Msgr Jeffrey Steenson on the seminary stage announced that the Holy Father has made Fr. Peter Wilkinson a prelate of honour with the title of Monsignor.
This is a wonderful recognition of Msgr Wilkinson’s past service to his people in Canada as an Anglican bishop. As well, Pope Benedict, has recognized the sacrifice and faithfulness Msgr Peter has shown in shepherding his people into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
With his usual humility and grace Msgr Wilkinson dedicated this honour to the clergy, their wives and the people of his former diocese now in communion with the Holy Father.
With great thanks to God the Canadian Deanery of St. John the Baptist now has a monsignor as well as a fine dean. May God bless the Deanery as we walk in the Year of Faith and give us grace to proclaim Christ to all in the New Evangelization in the unity of communion to which we are called.
Almost a year after being appointed to shepherd Anglican communities seeking to join the Catholic Church, Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson says the past months have been showered with blessings.
“I think the real joys have been to see communities that have struggled with the decision of discerning whether to become Catholic and have made that choice, and they have come in,” he told CNA in a November interview.
He described “the joy on their faces” as they enter the Catholic Church and said, “That’s the thing that sticks in my mind the most.”
Msgr. Steenson leads the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, which was canonically erected on Jan. 1, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI approved the creation of the ordinariate, which is similar to a diocese but includes communities throughout the entire U.S. and Canada.
Based in Houston, the ordinariate allows for entire communities to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and liturgical practices, such as the Book of Common Prayer.
As of Nov. 1, the ordinariate included 1,336 members. It contains 23 priests, 69 seminarians and 35 communities, including large groups in Texas, Maryland, Florida and Pennsylvania.
A former Episcopal bishop, Msgr. Steenson and his wife entered the Catholic Church in 2007, and he was ordained a Catholic priest in 2009.
He holds a doctorate in patristics – the study of the Early Church Fathers – from Oxford University and played an important role in designing the formation program for former Anglican priests who seek to be ordained under the new ordinariate.
Because he is married, Msgr. Steenson cannot be a bishop. Instead, he is an “ordinary,” who carries all the authority of a bishop except that of being able to ordain priests.
The past year has brought both joys and challenges for the new ordinariate. Msgr. Steenson said that he has to be “very patient with people because this is a big, life-changing decision for them,” and for some people, “all of their mind isn’t really there at the same time.”
“Sometimes people think that it’s a very simple matter to become a Catholic, that it’s like changing your uniform,” he reflected. “That’s not the way it is. It requires a profound transformation at so many levels.”
“It’s challenging, because not everybody sees that right away in the middle of this,” he explained.
It is also important to ensure that those who are entering the Church “are genuinely becoming Catholic and not just running away from something,” he said, adding that the ordinariate cannot simply be a “refugee community.”
Among those who have chosen to become members of the ordinariate, Msgr. Steenson has seen a common understanding that “we need Peter.”
“I think they’re very grateful, too, to the Catholic Church for making it possible for them to continue with a tradition of prayer and worship that they’ve known all along,” he said, noting that some people who had previously converted and found themselves missing “the prayers that shaped their lives” are now joining ordinariate communities.
Over the past year, Msgr. Steenson has found great encouragement in the “incredible support” of American Catholics, particularly the U.S. bishops.
“We’re small, we’re starting modestly, and yet the excitement and the support from people have been really, really great,” he said.
He described how numerous diocesan bishops have “gone way beyond the call of duty,” helping to fund initial assessments and health insurance for some men in the ordinariate priesthood and finding positions for them during their transition period.
In addition, Msgr. Steenson said that he has begun to develop a deep friendship with the bishops.
“It’s really quite astonishing how welcoming they’ve been,” he said. “I feel it’s home for me now.”
The current Year of Faith is a special blessing for members of the ordinariate, Msgr. Steenson said. During the year, which runs Oct. 11, 2012 – Nov. 24, 2013, the Holy Father is encouraging Catholics to grow in their faith through prayer and study of Vatican II and the catechism.
Msgr. Steenson explained that the catechism “has been our textbook.” He hopes that both clergy and laity in the ordinariate will come to know the catechism cover-to-cover and recognize it as an incredible resource as they move forward in their new faith.
Even before his conversion, Msgr. Steenson said that he had been using the Catholic catechism. He recalled his time as an Episcopal priest in the 1990s, feeling lost and wondering where he could find the resources to teach his people the faith. He was attracted by the rich substance in the catechism, which he views as “an incredible intellectual achievement.”
Looking forward, Msgr. Steenson hopes that the ordinariate will be able to grow in its relationship with the rest of the Church and provide “a real enrichment of Catholic life with this culture and patrimony.”
“We’re never going to lose our accent,” he said. “And in many different ways, we’ll be able to bring that gift into Catholic life.”
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!”
There is a video of the address here.
The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is now nine months old. Much has happened in that time, and we give God the glory for all of it, the challenges as well as the successes. One of the most significant moments came in mid-September when the Cardinal Archbishop of Galveston-Houston transferred to the Ordinariate the title to our principal church, Our Lady of Walsingham. In a similar way, the Diocese of Fort Worth is in the process of transferring St. Mary the Virgin, Arlington, to the Ordinariate. We have seen some twenty-two priests ordained and incardinated in the Ordinariate, with additional ordinations to come soon. Also, we will launch a new formation program for the second group of prospective candidates in Advent.
The Ordinariate is planning a pilgrimage to Rome for our clergy and their wives, to coincide with the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter on Feb. 22. And it really is a pilgrimage! We will set out to discover the apostolic foundations of the Church of Rome, to participate in the wonderful tradition of Lenten stational masses organized by the Pontifical North American College, and to meet some of the architects of the Ordinariates. We also hope to greet Msgr. Keith Newton and some of our confreres from the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, who will be in Rome at the same time. And, God willing, there will be an opportunity to thank the Successor of St. Peter himself for the gift of Anglicanorum coetibus. Your prayers are earnestly requested!
This first year we have focused on establishing the structure of the Ordinariate and on clergy formation. Now we will be turning more intentionally to congregational development. If there is one thing that has impressed itself upon me these past months, it is that our congregations must be committed to outreach and growth. We cannot stay where we are. Our clergy and their congregations must be committed to evangelization. The Great Commission is at the heart of the Church’s agenda: Truth has been given to be proclaimed. We must acquire the skills and nurture the gifts necessary to gather in a bountiful harvest of faith.
Who and What We Are: A Primer for Catholics
The Ordinariate is unique in the Roman Catholic Church; however, it comprises many elements similar to other Catholic structures, recognizable to all Catholics. Consequently, these familiar elements can help to define and explain the Ordinariate, our purpose, and our vision for the future.
In some ways, the Ordinariate is similar to a religious order. In the same way that the Franciscans and the Dominicans have distinct charisms or missions within the Church, we have a distinct, two-fold charism or mission granted to us by the Holy Father. This charism must be taken into account in all decisions as we discern our way forward. We are (1) to minister to the pastoral and spiritual needs of all former Anglicans coming to the Catholic Church and (2) to maintain “the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared” (AC 3). The decisions we make to plot a course for the Ordinariate must be always with an eye toward both caring for the people specifically entrusted to our care and bringing the fullness of the Anglican patrimony to the Catholic Church. This is our commission, the commission the Holy Father gave us in Anglicanorum coetibus.
We sometimes receive questions about the relationship between the Ordinariate and certain traditionalist liturgical groups in the Catholic Church. In answer to these questions, I think the comparison between the Franciscans and the Dominicans is apt. Saints Francis and Dominic once met to see whether they might combine their efforts and form one religious order. Although they left their meeting with great respect for each other and for their individual missions, they realized that it was important for the Church that they keep their efforts distinct. We in the Ordinariate must recognize that our commission to care for former Anglicans and to introduce our distinctive patrimony to the Church is a full-time, life-long calling, similar to but separate from the recovery of the Extraordinary Form within Catholic life. While our goals might be similar, and while we might support each other’s charism, the charisms are not identical. To merge the two might divert the Ordinariate from its primary tasks. We must seek to be faithful to our own distinct charism and patrimony.
We are blessed to be a part of the Catholic Church and all of its liturgical riches. Sometimes it seems that coming into the Catholic Church is like dining at a smorgasbord – there are so many beautiful choices on the table that we are tempted to sample them all! I understand this desire, and I have encouraged my clergy to become involved in their local dioceses so that they are able to sample the riches that belong to the Church. They are welcome to assist at other local parishes, and to celebrate both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Latin liturgies in the traditions of those diocesan parishes for their parishioners. In this spirit, we even have had one priest of the Ordinariate supply in a local Eastern Catholic parish. I want our priests to share in the activities of the presbyterate of their local dioceses.
In many ways, the Ordinariate resembles the personal parishes found in many Latin dioceses. For example, in the same way that Hispanic, Italian, or Ukrainian parishes often reflect the distinct culture of their people, so too Ordinariate parishes must reflect the “the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions” of our people. Here we must always go back to the Holy Father’s direction regarding our mission and our charism. The question must always and necessarily be, “Is it in keeping with our patrimony and tradition?” Our discernment that a practice is not of our patrimony in no way implies our judgment on its usefulness or spiritual worth. It simply means that we have made a decision to ensure that our parishes and communities reflect our own distinct patrimony as we strive to be faithful to the Holy Father’s vision.
We must take care too that we not increase membership in the Ordinariate by recruiting baptized Catholics who might be searching for more traditional forms of the liturgy, but rather with those who are coming to the Catholic Church. The apostolic constitution is very clear on this point. As we begin this year of faith, with its emphasis on the New Evangelization, the Ordinariate has a tremendous opportunity to contribute to this essential work of the Gospel.
We have been working on a communications strategy that should, in the near future, greatly enhance our ability to share news and information throughout the Ordinariate communities. From time to time, certain blogs and websites have made harsh and angry judgments about the Ordinariate. These must be read with a discerning eye. At the initial press conference that launched our Ordinariate, I said that I hoped we would bring courtesy and manners with us. It has always been one of the hallmarks of Anglican life, at least in its ideal form!
The first principle of the Ordinariate is communion – to be in communion with St. Peter and his successors, to be in communion with those bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome, to be in communion with the Catholic people, to seek communion with those separated from the Church – “that they may be one.” Some of us have come to the Ordinariate from situations full of conflict, much of it painful, some even scandalous. As a consequence, we have behaviors to be unlearned, obedience to be given, peace to be discovered. We do not want to replicate this disorder in our new ecclesial home. If difficulties should arise, the apostolic constitution is there to defend our distinct patrimony, but let us strive always to be Catholic! “The character of universality which adorns the people of God is a gift from the Lord himself” (CCC, 831). Our Anglican identity will find its true soul when united with the whole (CCC, 835).
Your Ordinariate leadership team has been working hard to lay a good foundation on which to build. It is a complex task that involves collaborating with two episcopal conferences, coordinating with two ecclesiastical delegates, and bringing together groups that formerly were not even in communion with each other. We have received unanimous support from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to create a deanery for the Canadian groups. I will have the privilege of addressing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops about our progress at its November meeting. Rome has received the statutes for our governing council, and once we receive their approval, we will proceed to create a governing council, probably by year’s end. Until now, three bishops are serving in this capacity. It is with deep gratitude that I acknowledge the wise counsel of Cardinal Wuerl, Bishop McManus, and Bishop Vann.
Pope Benedict recently sent us his blessings and good wishes, and I am deeply grateful to all of you for joining in this work of Christian unity that is so close to the Holy Father’s heart.
Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson
October 11, 2012
The above is in pdf. here.