It’s not official, but VOL learned this past week that former Episcopal Bishop of the Rio Grande, Jeffrey Steenson, who turned his back on TEC for its apostasies and crossed the Tiber, will be the new ordinary for the Ordinariate when it is established in the U.S. in January.
The irony should not be missed. The Vatican has stuck it to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and her House of Bishops by taking one of her own and making him an Ordinary. (The Pope had other options). Since Steenson is married with grown children, according to Anglicanorum Coetibus norms, he can never be elevated to the rank of bishop. However, he will receive the honor due a bishop and will be in the temporal and limited sacramental charge of an as-of-yet-to-be-named Ordinariate, although, he will be prevented from celebrating episcopal sacraments such as ordination.
Nonetheless, this does indicate how far down the ecclesiastical drain TEC has dropped. Anglicanorum Coetibus is the belated harvest of ecumenism and 40 years of Anglican Catholic talks that have gone nowhere. The advent of pansexual behavior in TEC and pending women bishops in the Church of England makes any talk of unity, at any level, almost impossible.
Talks will continue, of course. The Pope will politely receive Archbishop Rowan Williams. Pleasant words will be exchanged, but the deeper truth is that the distance between the two churches will, over time, only deepen and widen. Furthermore, Rome has more in common with Anglican theologian and former Durham Bishop Tom Wright, an evangelical (who is warmly welcomed in the Vatican) than it does with Affirming Catholic Rowan Williams.
Here is the truth. Both the Archbishop of Canterbury and Episcopal PB Jefferts Schori believe that issues like homosexuality and women bishops put them in the vanguard of change and the future. At the very deepest level, they are going where no church has gone before because they firmly believe the church will follow in time and they want to be out ahead of the pack. They really believe that the Roman Catholic Church will HAVE to cave on married priests in time, and when that wall comes down, then homosexual priests and women priests will surely follow.
Of course, that is a myth. Even if the Roman Catholic Church were to accept a married priesthood, it does not follow that gay or women priests would follow. A handful of pederast priests (who were never remotely interested in marrying women) does not cancel out more than 1000 years of priestly celibacy. No, what TEC and increasingly mainline denominations are doing is changing the ground rules for sexual behavior, something Rome will never do and neither will staunch Bible-believing evangelicals.
Rome has better ecclesiastical fields to till – the Orthodox Churches of the East being one of them.