NCR: Preserving Anglican patrimony

9 01 2012

Charlotte Hays writes at the National Catholic Register:

Father Jeffrey Steenson, who was named by Pope Benedict XVI on New Year’s Day as the first to lead the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, said that the new ordinariate for former Anglicans and Episcopalians must be true to both the Catholic Church and its Anglican patrimony.
An obviously overjoyed Father Steenson, 59, who according to one report sported cufflinks with the motto “Keep Calm & Carry On,” said that Pope Benedict, who authorized ordinariates for former Anglicans and Episcopalians in 2009, had charged them to preserve certain elements of Anglican worship.

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham — the first one to be created — was established in the United Kingdom in January of last year. The Chair of St. Peter is the second ordinariate to be erected, though Anglicans in Australia also hope to have an ordinariate established there.

“The establishment of the Personal Ordinariate is a historic moment in the history of the Church,” Father Steenson said. “For perhaps the first time since the Reformation in the 16th century, a corporate structure has been given to assist those who in conscience seek to return to the fold of St. Peter and his successors.”

A former Episcopal bishop who entered the Catholic Church in 2007 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 2009, Father Steenson proclaimed himself to be “mesmerized” by the name of the new ordinariate.

“I am so excited about the title of the ordinariate,” said Father Steenson, “because we who are pilgrims coming into the Church want to embrace this beautiful teaching, the primacy of St. Peter in Rome, where St. Peter sits in his chair and teaches us.”

Speaking in a press call-in from Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church in Houston, an Anglican-use parish founded in 1984 that will serve as the principal church of the ordinariate, Father Steenson was flanked by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Bishop Kevin Vann of Forth Worth, Texas.

Bishop Vann is in charge of formation for former Episcopal priests who seek ordination to the Catholic priesthood under Pope John Paul II’s 1982 Pastoral Provision.

Married Priest With a Miter

Father Scott Hurd, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington who will serve as vicar general of the ordinariate during its first year, was also on the call. Father Hurd is a former Episcopal priest.
More than 100 former Episcopal priests in the United States have asked to become Catholic priests under the ordinariate provisions, while around 1,400 laypeople are reportedly seeking to become part of the U.S. ordinariate. Two formerly Episcopal communities came into the Catholic Church last fall.

Asked about former Episcopalians who came into the Church before 2009, Father Hurd said that Anglicanorum Coetibus (Concerning Groups of Anglicans), the document that authorized the ordinariates, is vague about their status. However, he added that clarifying the status of these former Episcopalians is “on top of our inbox.”

They will be able to worship with the ordinariate, as will other Catholics, but Father Hurd said it’s not yet clear whether they can become “card-carrying members” of the Chair of St. Peter Ordinariate.

Father Hurd said that former Episcopal priests who ask to become Catholic priests must discern whether they have a vocation to be priests of the ordinariate or seek to be incardinated in a traditional Catholic diocese.

Father Steenson, former bishop of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Rio Grande, will be a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and entitled to wear a miter, but he will not be ordained a bishop. That is something only open to an unmarried man. Father Steenson is married and the father of three adult children and one grandchild. His wife, Debra, also came into the Catholic Church.

Since he will not be a bishop, Father Steenson will have to depend on Catholic bishops to ordain priests for the ordinariate.

Cardinal DiNardo said that his archdiocese will pay Father Steenson’s salary and offer help with some of the administrative burden. But the ordinariate “has been launched in a spirit of apostolic poverty,” Father Steenson noted on the ordinariate’s website, It will need to raise money to defray the costs of its operation.

Cardinal DiNardo hailed Father Steenson, an Oxford University and Harvard-educated expert on the early Church Fathers who teaches theology on the faculty of the University of St. Thomas in Houston, as a “wise and prudent administrator who will bring a vibrant intellect and humility to his role as head of the ordinariate.”

Steep Learning Curve

Father Steenson asked for prayers for himself and for those who will become Catholics through the ordinariate. “There is so much to learn, and it is a steep learning curve. Be patient with us as we embark on this journey,” he said.

“Pray that we may strive to learn the faith, laws and culture of the Catholic Church with humility and good cheer. But pray, too, that we do not forget who we are and where we have come from, for we have been formed in the beautiful and noble Anglican tradition,” said Father Steenson.

He recalled that Pope Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine of Canterbury to evangelize the English in the sixth century and that St. Augustine had become the first archbishop of Canterbury.
Letters from Gregory the Great to Augustine, encouraging him to always be “a gracious and patient pastor” to those in faraway England, have been preserved in the Venerable Bede’s great Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation.

Father Steenson noted that Anglicans “love to read the letters” because they are “a great witness to how the Church gathers her people from many different cultures and lands.”

The new ordinary observed that Pope Benedict’s decree established the ordinariate by saying that “the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls” and that, “as such, throughout its history, the Church has always found the pastoral and juridical means to care for the good of the people.”

“In what Pope Benedict has given us today, I hear the voice of Pope Gregory the Great: ‘For things are not to be loved for the sake of places, but places for the sake of good things.’ What a beautiful testimony to all that Catholic Christianity is,” Father Steenson said.

In a characteristically Anglican note, the new ordinary stressed the need for cordiality. “Here is one thing I earnestly desire to share with you from the outset,” Father Steenson said. “Anglican spirituality has always emphasized the need to be gentlemanly in all of our relationships. May you see in us always the virtue of courtesy.”

Washington Post: Fr Scott Hurd draws on his own faith to help Anglicans converting to Catholicism

6 01 2012

Fr Scott Hurd is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington. He has recently been named as Vicar General for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter and is a former Anglican priest, having trained at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. He writes here in the Washington Post:

At a beautiful little church in a small Texas town in 1996, I celebrated my final Eucharist as an Anglican priest of the Episcopal Church. After the closing blessing, the choir and I processed out to the classic hymn, “Faith of Our Fathers.” A week later, I found myself in Washington, D.C., a layman sitting in a pew, anticipating my first Sunday Mass as a Catholic, and wondering what to expect. But when the opening hymn began, I knew that I was in the right place. The hymn? “Faith of Our Fathers.”

It was as if God was reassuring me that my entrance into the Catholic Church was simply a continuation of the spiritual journey I had begun as an Episcopalian. I still cherish the memory of that day. Not only did it confirm for me that my future rested in the Catholic Church, it also made me grateful for my Episcopal past. I am a “cradle” Episcopalian. It was within the Episcopal Church that I met the Lord, grew in faith, and heard a call to ordained ministry. An Episcopal high school is my alma mater, and it was at an Episcopal altar that my wife Stephanie and I exchanged our vows. As an Episcopal priest, I ministered in God’s name, preached His Word, and served His people.

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William Johnstone: Policy to Unite Christians in Catholicism “A Truly Ecumenical Act”

6 01 2012

William Johnstone, a former Anglican clergyman who became a Catholic in 2001, works for the St Barnabas Society and is a member of Catholic Voices. He writes here in the Global Herald:

With the establishment of a second Ordinariate in America – recently announced as the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter – the process of healing the wounds of the Reformation continues. But along with the joy of welcoming Anglicans into the Church there have been a few cries of dissent. Various onlookers see the initiative as an attempt by Rome to benefit from the internal problems of the Anglican Communion. Even among Catholics there can be confusion about what the Ordinariate really means.

The reality of the situation is straight forward. There are significant groups of Anglicans who desire unity with the historic Catholic Church. Although some of these groups fall under the umbrella of Canterbury, others split off from the Anglican Communion years ago, and have grown used to maintaining their own buildings and structures. Alongside a common Anglican heritage, these groups share the desire for full communion with the See of Peter.

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Geoffrey Kirk: Women Bishops, the Ordinariate and the future of Anglo-Catholics

5 01 2012

Dr Geoffrey Kirk calls on the opponents of women bishops to admit that the battle has been lost in January’s New Directions:

‘Final Approval of the current draft Women Bishops legislation is not a foregone conclusion; the best way to secure its safe passage would be to amend it to provide properly for traditionalists; modest amendment of the legislation, together with a suitably drafted Code of Practice could yet enable the Church of England to move forward together on women bishops in 2012. Failure to amend the legislation could result in the failure of the legislation at Final Approval, which would delay the introduction of women bishops for many years to come’ Thus the leader of the Catholic Group in Synod of the forth-coming debate.

So it has come to this: a movement which once embraced a vocation to reassert and affirm the Catholic nature of the Church of England, to defend its orders as those of the Universal Church, and so to progress the unity of Christendom, is reduced to horse-trading for its very existence, arguing in favour of what it most bitterly opposes in order to eke out a ghetto existence in the home it once supposed to be its own. A group of bishops, most of whom (and some immediately before they were so recently consecrated) sought arrangements of reconciliation with the Holy See, are now the sponsors of a ‘Society’ within the Church of England which promises a future which without compromise it cannot deliver.

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Telegraph: Hundreds more Church of England defections expected

28 12 2011

Martin Beckford writes for the Daily Telegraph:

Hundreds more disaffected Anglicans will cross over to the Roman Catholic Church this year as the Church of England prepares to take another important step towards the ordination of women bishops.

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Mgr Newton profiled as one of ten amazing Catholics of the year

27 12 2011

From the Catholic Herald:

Pope Benedict personally appointed Mgr Keith Newton as Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, after he was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in January, having resigned as a Church of England bishop last year.

On April 1 Pope Benedict received Mgr Newton in a private audience. This was taken as a sign of the Holy Father’s continued support for the ordinariate. Mgr Newton, accompanied by Cardinal Levada and Bishop Hopes, presented the Holy Father with gifts on behalf of the ordinariate.

A tireless champion of the ordinariate, Mgr Newton cares for each Anglican group swimming the Tiber. He values catechetics highly and knows precisely how each group is benefiting from catechetical programmes like Evangelium. He spent much of 2011 travelling around the country and meeting ordinariate groups, from the Black Country to the community of St Luke’s in Kennington, south London.

Last July Mgr Newton led members of the ordinariate to their spiritual home during the Pilgrimage of Reparation and Consecration to Walsingham. He was the main speaker at the Towards Advent Festival at Westminster Cathedral where he gave a talk on “Joy and Hope in the Church” and described his spiritual fulfilment at being in full communion with the Pope. A large crowd heard Mgr Newton’s talk. After he spoke he was greeted with resounding applause.

Mgr Newton has never lost his optimism and good humour, even when he has faced limited resources, including inadequate funds and a lack of accommodation for clergy and their families.

+Vincent Nichols: Progress on Ordinariate & Principal Church

11 12 2011

This is a transcript from part of the Press Conference following the November 2011 Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales. In it, Madeleine Teahan (Catholic Herald) asks Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales, about progress relating to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham as discussed at the meeting.  The full audio can be found here.

MT: As I understand it the Ordinariate was discussed aswell during the time. The first question is, what is the progress on the Ordinariate project and, most specifically, do they have a church yet? [Ed: Second question about holydays of obligation].

+VN: Yes, we had report from Monsignor Keith Newton. He gave us an indication of the present numbers within the Ordinariate, and that was about 60 clergy and about 1000 people. He gave us some indication of those who where coming forward, as it were, in a second wave – at the moment I think he said that there were about 20 clergy, most of them with some groups, but he didn’t specify the size of the groups.  We talked quite a bit about the support of those 60 clergy and how co-operation between the Ordinariate clergy and diocesan responsibilities is going quite well. I think you will have seen that some of the Ordinariate clergy are taking posts in the dioceses. Some of those posts are chaplaincy posts, some of those are parish posts – posts in parishes – and that is obviously helping the Ordinariate to carry its’ responsibilities for its clergy.

With regard to churches: the groups that exist on the whole find their use of the local diocesan church perfectly adequate. I think I read that the Archbishop of Southwark has more or less handed one church into the care of the Ordinariate.  With regard to the suggestion that constantly comes up about a headquarters church, as it were – a cathedral for the Ordinariate – I think that is something probably beyond their resources at the present time, and I don’t think the Ordinariate would thank us, actually, to simply give it responsibility for a church that it would have to then maintain and upkeep.  That day might well come, and it certainly is not ruled out  there are various things under consideration – but the timing of it is not to be rushed, and nor should it be made into some sort of iconic issue: it isn’t. The Ordinariate is getting established, it’s getting ready for its’ second step, and we will see how it develops in that proper organic way.

Mgr Andrew Burnham: Advent in the Ordinariate

2 12 2011

The Portal Magazine published this article by Mgr Andrew Burnham. It appeared earlier on the Anglo-Catholic.

As we celebrate Advent and Christmas in the Ordinariate, we shall experience some excitement and a few concerns too. Our excitement will be the joyfulness of these celebrations, and what we bring to them. Our concerns will be round some of the unresolved questions.

For Catholics, especially those formed in the Anglican tradition, Advent is a favourite season. The Advent hymns. The Advent antiphons, popularized in ‘O come, O come Emmanuel’ in the last few days before Christmas; the readings from Isaiah; the start of a new liturgical year; the anticipation as Christmas approaches.

An ideal Christmas

The magazines are full of what makes for an ideal Christmas but for Christians the festive fun is a small part of what we are celebrating. We are mindful also of those who are alone, or are in crisis.

The bright light of Christmas reveals the dark places in people’s lives and the promise of the Saviour is not mince pies and booze, but salvation – rescue.

I suspect Christmas for some of the Ordinariate Groups will bring mixed emotions. Mainly, of course, we shall rejoice in the birth of our Redeemer and experience Emmanuel, God-with-us, in a more intense way. But there will be memories of how things once were, maybe a longing for some of the securities of the old life of captivity, and a fear that things will never quite be as we should like them to be.

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Comment on the Bishop of London’s comments

21 11 2011

Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith writes at the Catholic Herald.

Fr Ray Blake comments on his blog.

Bishop Kevin Vann on US Ordinariate

15 11 2011

Bishop Vann writes:

For the Catholic Church in the United States, today marks an important movement towards greater diversity and at the same time a reaffirmation of the universality of what Jesus Christ established. On the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, which falls on Sunday January 1, 2012, a Personal Ordinariate for former Anglicans (Episcopalians) who wish to be fully initiated into the Catholic Church will be erected. This follows the January 15, 2011 establishment of a Personal Ordinariate in England and comes just before an official announcement about progress towards the erection of a Personal Ordinariate in Australia.

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