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Leader of US ordinariate discusses challenges

Catholic World News - January 26, 2012

In an interview with Catholic News Service, Father Jeffrey Steenson discussed the challenges he faces as the leader of the recently established Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The ordinariate was established for Anglican communities in the United States that wished to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining elements of the Anglican patrimony.

Father Steenson, who revealed that 30 additional Anglican clergymen have contacted him recently about possible entrance into the ordinariate, said that “we have to create a set of norms to govern it--I'm not a canon lawyer, but the canon lawyers call it particular law. None of that exists yet so that's what we've been working overtime on for the last month, just to try and create that.”

Additional challenges, according to Father Steenson, are offering accelerated theological formation for the former Anglican clergy who will be ordained for the ordinariate, deepening a sense of communion among the far-flung parishes of the ordinariate, and building relationships with local dioceses. “I've felt only a great sense of welcome from the Catholic bishops,” he said.

Asked what he might say to Pope Benedict when he has the opportunity, Father Steenson replied:

Thank you, first of all. This wouldn't have happened without him. This was not an idea that developed in one of the dicasteries of the Curia. This came right from the top and he had to convince a lot of people. So I feel that Pope Benedict put himself out on the line on this, and I want to be sure we don't let the Holy Father's words fall to the ground. I want him to be proud of us and see that we are making a fruitful contribution to the Church.

And the other thing I'd like to do if I could see him is to thank him for his Christology book that he wrote. It's sort of a life-changer for me -- "Jesus of Nazareth" 1 and 2. I'm a utility infielder at the seminary [St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston], in other words they throw me classes to teach when no one else can do it, and last year I was given Christology. So the seminarians and I just read Pope Benedict, and it was an astonishing experience to do that. I think we all walked away from that experience in something of an awe for Benedict as a theologian. I'd like to thank him for that too. As a theologian I would say that in "Jesus of Nazareth" part 2, his chapter on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is probably the most extraordinary piece of theology of our time.

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  • Posted by: Thomas429 - Jan. 27, 2012 11:52 AM ET USA

    I wonder if the Methodists will follow. They had split off from the Church of England a few centuries after its formation.

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