Bishop Kevin Vann’s statement on US Ordinariate

6 01 2012

Bishop Kevin Vann made this statement at the launch of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter:

Good morning all, dear brothers and sisters and friends present here today.

Happy New Year!

I’m very grateful to be present here at Our Lady of Walsingham today, at this historical moment for the announcement of the establishment of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter under the Patronage of Our Lady of Walsingham. I wish to offer my personal word of congratulations and fraternal support to Fr. Steenson, whom I came to know not long after I became the Bishop of Fort Worth nearly seven years ago, and I now consider a good friend. He will be a faith filled shepherd for the Ordinariate, and is also a scholar of the Fathers of the Church, whose writings are so key to understanding the nature of the Church, and the call to communion. I might add here that Father Steenson gave the Texas Bishops’ retreat just two years ago at this time in San Antonio, on the theme of “Episcopal Ministry in the Fathers of the Church”, and it was well received by all of the Bishops present.

I also acknowledge the presence of my friend Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, and also thank Cardinal Donal Wuerl of Washington, D.C., Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester, MA, and Fr. Scott Hurd of Washington, D.C., with whom I have worked very closely in these past two years.

I have been a member of the Anglicanorum coetibus commission, and am now the Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision. Both of these are distinct, yet complementary expressions in the contemporary life of the Church of the will of the Lord himself when he prayed that all may be one (John 17). They reflect the quest and call for Full Communion with the Catholic Church, and I also believe, the opportunity to give a witness of the joy and peace that come from the journey to full communion with the Church. As a canon lawyer, I also know that the last canon in the Code of Canon Law states that the supreme law is the “salvation of souls”, and that is, in the end, this is the reason for this journey of Faith into the Ordinariate.

When I was appointed to Fort Worth in 2005, I found that the some of the foundation for this historic day had been already laid in Fort Worth by these individuals and groups: the mutual work and ministry of the late Bishop Delaney, my predecessor in the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth and Bishop Clarence Pope, then Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth; together with a community of Anglo-Catholics in the Diocese of Fort Worth who now make up the parish of St. Mary the Virgin in Arlington, Texas. There were also other Episcopalian priests and laity as well who were seeking full communion with the Catholic Church in the years before I was sent to forth worth. These individuals had been brought to Christ and their Faith nourished in Baptism in their respective Anglican communities and the prayer and liturgical traditions of those communities.

I need also here to mention here the friendships, good will and ecclesial relationships, within and among the Catholic and Episcopalian Diocese: especially my friendship with the members of the Society of the Holy Cross and Bishop Jack Iker that I believe are part of this providential history.

Not many years after the establishment of the Pastoral Provision by Pope John Paul II in 1981, its lived reality proved to be a blessing and a part of the life of the local Church of Fort Worth – where life long Catholics and priests, and priests and individuals and communities who came through the Pastoral Provision have lived and worked together to proclaim the Kingdom of God and built up the Body of Christ.

Not long after my appointment to Fort Worth, I was appointed as Vice Delegate for the Pastoral Provision with special responsibility for Texas. Now, as the Delegate of the Holy See for the Pastoral Provision, I am here to offer my personal support to Fr. Steenson and the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter; and my promise to continue to work together, and pray with and for the Ordinariate and Father Steenson: in the calling to help build up and strengthen the life of the this new Ordinariate. At the same time, I will continue the work of the Pastoral Provision for those Episcopalian priests who wish to become members of a Latin Rite Diocese.

Anglicanorum coetibus brings to the entire Church the reality of Faith that has been the lived experience of the Pastoral Provision in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Today is a day of rejoicing as we begin in this new year, and a new chapter in the life of the Church in the United States.

Thank you and God bless you.