Holy Father Establishes the Personal Ordinariate of The Chair of St. Peter

Today, the Holy Father formally established the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Let me try to explain.

For quite sometime, some of the Anglican Church here in the United States, and elsewhere in the world, have wanted to come into full communion with the Catholic Church but retain their liturgical heritage and Anglican patrimony. They were seeking ways of maintaining their Anglican culture, in a sense, yet become reunited with the Roman Catholic Church to whom they were more and more drifting due to relatively recent decisions within the Anglican communion that have divided it.

Not too long ago, Pope Benedict XVI issued the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus which allows those Anglicans who desired reunion with the Catholic Church to do so and retain much of their Anglican patrimony, including liturgical practices and married clergy (deacons and priests, not bishops). After the Holy Father made this decision, there has been a great deal of interest and planning.

In 2008, three Anglican bishops were ordained Catholic deacons. A year later, they were ordained Catholic priests. All are married. One of them was former Bishop John Lipscomb who is now a priest of the diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, and another was Fr. Jeffrey Neil Steenson, D. Phil., who was named today as the Ordinary of the new Ordinariate of The Chair of St. Peter, which will encompass all of the United States. Fr. Steenson had been the Anglican bishop of the Episcopal diocese of Rio Grande, Albuquerque from 2004-2007.

Many are seeing this new Ordinariate as a sign of things to come in the continual efforts toward reunion of the Anglican fold into the Catholic Church from whom she split during the reign of Henry VIII.

Some are reporting, I suspect accurately, that any former Anglican bishop ordained to the Catholic priesthood may use “the insignia of the episcopal office” after seeking Rome’s permission and are entitled to sit in the episcopal conference with the status of a retired prelate.

These are interesting developments and we all pray a sign that the Holy Spirit will continue to draw into unity the dispersion of Christians throughout the world.

Blessings on the new ordinariate.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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