Skip to comments.Bp. Steenson's Letter to his clergy on his conversion to the Catholic Church
Posted on 09/23/2007 9:44:56 PM PDT by jacero10
This is a very difficult letter to write as your bishop and colleague in the ordained ministry, and I hope that you will receive it in the prayerful spirit in which it is offered. A pastoral letter to the people of the diocese will follow in a few days. At the House of Bishops meeting about to be convened in New Orleans, my intention is to ask them for permission to begin the process to resign as diocesan bishop. The bishops must give their consent, and then I will step down by the end of the year.
The reason for this decision is that my conscience is deeply troubled about where the Episcopal Church is heading, and this has become a crisis for me because of my ordination vow to uphold its doctrine, discipline, and worship. An effective leader cannot be so conflicted about the guiding principles of the Church he serves. It concerns me that this has affected my ability to lead this diocese with a clear and hopeful vision for its mission. I also have sensed how important it is for those of us in this position to model a gracious way to leave the Episcopal Church in a manner respectful of its laws.
I believe that Gods call to us is always positive, always a to and not a from. At the clergy conference next week I hope to be able to share something of this. Many of you already know of my love for the Catholic Church and my conviction that this is the true home of Anglicanism. I will not dwell on this, however, so as not to lose sight of my responsibility to help lay a good foundation for the transition that you must now lead.
(Excerpt) Read more at standfirminfaith.com ...
I would say it is not a great coup to win an Episcopalian bishop.
Well, the Catholic Church does not gain a bishop, for sure. He comes as a layman, which is a profound sacrifice, certainly. But it gains a soul—and a great soul at that. Praise God.
I think this is the third one this year: Clarence Pope (albeit again), and the retired Bishop of Albany who is a revert.
I think it’s time for the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church to set up an Apostolic Administration akin to Opus Dei for these folks...perhaps if Steenson is not married he could be elevated to the Episcopacy to head it.
Actually, there is already a structure in the Catholic Church set up for converting Anglicans called the “Anglican Use.” It allows them to continue using a modified form of the Book of Common Prayer, including facing East, if they like.
Also, as he is not a revert, he is eligible to be ordained a priest and even a bishop. Stay tuned!
Shame on you!
What a snide and small-minded thing to say.
Thanks be to God when anyone is led to full communion with Christ's holy Catholic Church!
And with folks like you showing the friendly face of Catholicism (if indeed you are a Catholic), all the more tribute to God's grace which brings people to his Church despite some of its members.
Thanks for mentioning us in the Anglican Use; today, incidentally is the patronal fest day of our parish here in Houston: Our Lady of Walsingham (it was celebrated yesterday at the parish, complete with reconsecration of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham on the property). As I understand it, the feast day of OLW is of general application in England, and is of parsih application for parishes of that title in the US (only ours in Houston, I believe, and unfortunately, as Walsingham is a great story and of great significance as a shrine of the Holy Family).
The Anglican Usage is merely a usage of the Roman Rite, standing besides its big sister, the Johannine use (of 1962), as our archbishop rightly said in his letter on Summorum Pontificum. The juridical arrangement for clergy, in the US only, is the Pastoral Provision of John Paul II.
All this said, the current arrangements have not proved entirely successful in providing a suitable “home” within the Church for ex-Anglicans and others, so something like a prelature, or an apostolic administration (PAA: as in “Campos”), is earnestly to be asked for. As it stands now, a great many bishops even in the US are basically skeptical of the PP/AU: one sort because they see it as too traditional, and the other sort because they can’t wrap their heads around the married clergy concept. That said, however, Archbishop Gomez of San Antonio has been very helpful, as I understand it, in bringing along a new man over there, so perhaps some of the ice is breaking.
Still, the PAA is to be preferred, but this seems most likely to happen only if a large number of Anglicans are coming home together, such as the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), and work that out with Rome as part of the “deal”. It is well known that the TAC are in talks with Rome now, and from what little correspondence I have had with some of them, they seem well aware that something like a PAA is needed. As with all these things, however, there are various sub-issues (such as marital status, etc., etc.) that seem to get in the way of progress, so we will just have to pray for development based on good will and flexibility of thought on both sides.
I was referring to the movement a couple of years back to give them an Apostolic Administration akin to the Prelature of Opus Dei. At present the Anglican Use Parishes are subject to the local Ordinary, while a personal Prelature who be responsible directly to Rome.
I actually even own a copy of the “Book of Divine Worship” which is the modified version, it on my bookshelf next to my Douay Rheims. I’ve shown it to come Episcopalians and they say it is 90% the Rite with the Elizabethan English and 10% texts added to bring it into compliance with the Roman Cannon.
Oddly the additional text appears to be in common english for some reason.
And another post has his bio, he will not be Ordained a Bishop as he is married with three adult children.
I’d be suprised if in two years he wasn’t accepted under the Pastoral Provision.
Thanks for your thoughtful response. I wasnt sure where you were going on the Opus Dei reference, but now I see ur referring to the structure of personal prelature.
As I understand it personal prelature is a structure which can be applied to religious or other pious institutes. For parts of the body of the faithful I think the corresponding structure would be sui juris or a rite (still under Rome). I am unaware of a rite in the church which is not co-eval with the ancient rites. That is, the eastern rites can have an semi independent life because they are just as ancient as the Roman. Anglican Use is actually a version of the Roman Rite as it descends historically from Rome.
On the other hand, JPII created personal prelature as a canonical provision which had never existed before (though the Jesuits were once close). I suppose for good reason B16 could do the same and create a new structure for this purpose. Actually, I would very much like to see this happen though the problem of a married bishop would arise. Nowhere in the church, east or west, is there a married bishop.
Note this also, from the “Civilta Cattolica”, as excerpted on Sandro Magister’s site today:
“There is, above all, the case of the married Anglican or Lutheran ex-ministers who, having converted to Catholicism, ask to become priests, and who since the time of Pius XII have been allowed to continue their conjugal life within their families. After these individual cases, there arose that of several hundreds of Anglican pastors, most of them married, who asked to be admitted into the ranks of the Catholic clergy because they did not agree with some of the decisions made by their Church, especially in the matter of the admission of women to holy orders. Requests along these lines continue even today, and in general they are well received. On average there are seven or eight of these each year. There were 12 in 2004, 9 in 2005, and 13 in 2006.”
It appears that Bishop Steenson is a man of conscience and can no longer condone the road the Episcopal church is taking.
BTW, I say this with all due respect. I just think the Roman Church is wrong.
As I understand it, the permission for married former clergy of other churches only goes back to JPII, not Pius XII. Certainly the question of WO was not a real one until 1976 when TEC ordained women.
Regarding numbers, WO in Britain spawned an unprecedented movement to the Catholic Church with now over 700 ministers now serving as Catholic priests.
Every soul is a soul for whom Christ died. To call one of them “no great catch” is an insult to the price He paid.
Things seem to be going better with Abp Dinardo than his predecessor. Dinardo is a twin with a priestly brother, as is the Administrator at OLW. I think that gives them something in common.
This isn't the NFL draft in which franchises vie for supremacy. "Keeping score" isn't really an appropriate way of looking at this, I don't think.
The Last Judgment won't see God adding up the numbers and announcing "the winner is the Catholic Church......or the winner is the Episcopalian Church".
We'll be judged individually and this is the story of one man's journey. One should look at it from the point of view of the convert and his journey, not as one more body for "team Rome". It may or may not be "a coup" for the Catholic Church, but I think it is a coup for the bishop himself.
If anyone believes that, I have a bridge to sell them.
BTW, I say this with all due respect...
...odd, indeed; you call us delusional, then you profer your respects...one would hate to have you profer your vitriol on us, who knows what you would call us...
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Seconded, indeed. Welcome home, sir.
I posted the following to the forum earlier in the month. Perhaps you missed it. From National Catholic Register.
WASHINGTON (EWTN News/CNA)—Pope Benedict XVI has chosen a former Episcopal bishop to lead the new U.S. ordinariate for Anglican communities wishing to enter the Catholic Church.
The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, which was officially erected on Jan. 1, 2012, will be led by Father Jeffrey Steenson, who is a married former Episcopal bishop of the Rio Grande.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who had served as the Vatican’s delegate for the establishment of an ordinariate in the United States, said that he welcomed Father Steenson’s appointment “with great joy.”
The cardinal said that the creation of the ordinariate is the “fulfillment of the hopes of many Anglicans in the United States who have longed and prayed for reconciliation with the Catholic Church.”
Ordained a Catholic priest in 2009, Father Steenson played an important role in designing the formation program for Anglican priests who enter the Catholic Church and seek ordination under the new ordinariate.
The 59-year-old priest has a doctorate in patristics, the study of the early Church Fathers. He teaches theology at the University of St. Thomas and at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston.
Because he is married, Father Steenson cannot be ordained a bishop, but he will instead serve as the “ordinary.” Although he will not be able to ordain priests, he will have the authority of a bishop in other respects.
The creation of ordinariates for Anglican communities seeking to enter the Catholic Church was authorized by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2009 apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.
The newly established U.S. ordinariate, which will be based in Houston, will be similar to a diocese but national in scope. It will allow entire communities to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and liturgical practices.
Two Anglican communities, one in the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, and the other in the Archdiocese of Washington, were received into the Catholic Church in 2011 in anticipation of the establishment of the U.S. ordinariate.
Father Steenson’s appointment to lead the new ordinariate is effective immediately.
Raised on a farm in North Dakota, Father Steenson studied at Harvard Divinity School and the University of Oxford.
He was ordained an Anglican priest in 1980 and was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande in 2004.
After he and his wife entered the Catholic Church in 2007, Father Steenson was ordained a Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, N.M., in 2009.
He and his wife, Debra, have three grown children and one grandchild.
Cardinal Wuerl said that Father Steenson brings with him “great pastoral and administrative experience,” as well as “gifts as a theologian.”
Under Father Steenson’s leadership, said the cardinal, the new ordinariate “will both flourish and be a rich blessing to the Catholic Church in the United States.”
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