The first principle of the Ordinariate is then about Christian unity. St. Basil the Great, the Church’s greatest ecumenist, literally expended his life on the work of building bridges between orthodox brethren who shared a common faith, but who had become separated from one another in a Church badly fragmented by heresy and controversy. He taught that the work of Christian unity requires deliberate and ceaseless effort...St. Basil often talked with yearning about the archaia agape, the ancient love of the apostolic community, so rarely seen in the Church of his day. This love, he taught, is a visible sign that the Holy Spirit is indeed present and active, and it is absolutely essential for the health of the Church.

- Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Homily on the Occasion of his Formal Institution as Ordinary

Friday, October 12, 2012

Msgr. Steenson publishes update on the Personal Ordinariate in North America

From the US Ordinariate web site:
An Update from the Ordinary

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is now nine months old. Much has happened in that time, and we give God the glory for all of it, the challenges as well as the successes. One of the most significant moments came in mid-September when the Cardinal Archbishop of Galveston-Houston transferred to the Ordinariate the title to our principal church, Our Lady of Walsingham. In a similar way, the Diocese of Fort Worth is in the process of transferring St. Mary the Virgin, Arlington, to the Ordinariate. We have seen some twenty-two priests ordained and incardinated in the Ordinariate, with additional ordinations to come soon. Also, we will launch a new formation program for the second group of prospective candidates in Advent...

Who and What We Are: A Primer for Catholics

The Ordinariate is unique in the Roman Catholic Church; however, it comprises many elements similar to other Catholic structures, recognizable to all Catholics. Consequently, these familiar elements can help to define and explain the Ordinariate, our purpose, and our vision for the future.

In some ways, the Ordinariate is similar to a religious order. In the same way that the Franciscans and the Dominicans have distinct charisms or missions within the Church, we have a distinct, two-fold charism or mission granted to us by the Holy Father. This charism must be taken into account in all decisions as we discern our way forward. We are (1) to minister to the pastoral and spiritual needs of all former Anglicans coming to the Catholic Church and (2) to maintain “the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared” (AC 3). The decisions we make to plot a course for the Ordinariate must be always with an eye toward both caring for the people specifically entrusted to our care and bringing the fullness of the Anglican patrimony to the Catholic Church. This is our commission, the commission the Holy Father gave us in Anglicanorum coetibus.

We sometimes receive questions about the relationship between the Ordinariate and certain traditionalist liturgical groups in the Catholic Church. In answer to these questions, I think the comparison between the Franciscans and the Dominicans is apt. Saints Francis and Dominic once met to see whether they might combine their efforts and form one religious order. Although they left their meeting with great respect for each other and for their individual missions, they realized that it was important for the Church that they keep their efforts distinct. We in the Ordinariate must recognize that our commission to care for former Anglicans and to introduce our distinctive patrimony to the Church is a full-time, life-long calling, similar to but separate from the recovery of the Extraordinary Form within Catholic life. While our goals might be similar, and while we might support each other’s charism, the charisms are not identical. To merge the two might divert the Ordinariate from its primary tasks. We must seek to be faithful to our own distinct charism and patrimony.

We are blessed to be a part of the Catholic Church and all of its liturgical riches. Sometimes it seems that coming into the Catholic Church is like dining at a smorgasbord – there are so many beautiful choices on the table that we are tempted to sample them all! I understand this desire, and I have encouraged my clergy to become involved in their local dioceses so that they are able to sample the riches that belong to the Church. They are welcome to assist at other local parishes, and to celebrate both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Latin liturgies in the traditions of those diocesan parishes for their parishioners. In this spirit, we even have had one priest of the Ordinariate supply in a local Eastern Catholic parish. I want our priests to share in the activities of the presbyterate of their local dioceses...

Moving Forward

...The first principle of the Ordinariate is communion – to be in communion with St. Peter and his successors, to be in communion with those bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome, to be in communion with the Catholic people, to seek communion with those separated from the Church – “that they may be one.” Some of us have come to the Ordinariate from situations full of conflict, much of it painful, some even scandalous. As a consequence, we have behaviors to be unlearned, obedience to be given, peace to be discovered. We do not want to replicate this disorder in our new ecclesial home...

Read the whole update here.


  1. 1. On the Ordinariate as analogous to a religious order. Point taken. There is a particular charism, and even a particular liturgy. But at the end of the day, this is still a Latin Rite endeavor. It does not follow that having a unique charism and mission empowers one to exclude the normative liturgy of your (Latin) Rite. Steenson says as much when he reminds parishes that they can, of course, celebrate the Ordinary Form without limitation. But it's illogical to then cherry-pick a form in a discriminatory manner-- he is trying to have it both ways: "we're Anglican, but you can do (my preferred) form of the Roman Rite."

    2. Steenson seems to think that the TLM will exclude celebration of the Anglican Use. Why would this not also be the case with the Ordinary Form? That doesn't make any sense. He is trying to have it both ways, and it doesn't hold up to logic.

    3. Steenson seems to think that "traditionalist groups" is who is upset about this. He is incorrect. The broad traditional Catholic public is upset about his arbitrary discrimination against the TLM. He is not operating as an ordinary would be expected to in following the mind of the Holy Father on SP and UE. That is what we are upset about. The tone of this sentence implies that TLM-attachment is confined to the SSPX or something. That is a bad misreading of where support for the TLM is coming from, and frankly is outdated. It also sounds like it came from his Roman Rite counselors, as it's something a certain cardinal might say.

    4.It makes no sense to say the Ordinariate needs to be absolutely distinct on the one hand, and then say the Ordinary Form is a fine liturgy for the Ordinariate on the other. Either be Anglican-Use only (like a separate Church would do, with biritual faculties), or allow the Roman Rite (in both forms, not just one) for ordinariate parishes. He is trying to have it both ways--again.

    5. I might humbly suggest that if Msgr. Steenson wants to avoid discord going forward, he not create it himself (as he did in this case). And if he wants to encourage obedience to religious superiors, he might start by obeying the mind of the Holy Father on SP and UE. To do otherwise creates scandal on the part of we pesky laity.

  2. This is a cross-post from Deborah Gypyong's blog. But in terms of being obedient to authority, Msgr. Steenson is being obedient to what he was told by the Congregation for Divine Worship's specific direction to him.

    The reason that Msgr. Steenson must allow the Ordinary Form is that the Book of Divine Worship has been modeled on the Book of Common Prayer, that allows for a traditional liturgy (Rite 1) and a modern liturgy (Rite 2). After the Ordinariate was created, the Congregation for Divine Worship told the Ordinariate that they should continue to use the BDW for the traditional liturgy (Rite 1), but that for those communities that preferred or used the modern liturgy (Rite 2) the Ordinariate should use the Ordinary Form. This was explained in the Ordinary’s first pastoral letter, and is a pastoral concession to those Episcopalians that are coming from a parish with the use of a Rite 2 modern liturgy. In other words, in allowing the Ordinary Form, he is following the specific direction of the Congregation. So it isn’t a matter of consistency or disobedience, but a matter of doing what he was told by the Congregation for Divine Worship. It also is consistent with the practice of Episcopalians in the United States who have had the choice in the Book of Common Prayer and now the Book of Divine Worship to use either a traditional or modern liturgy.

  3. @wayfarer No one has (publicly) told Steenson that he must exclude the Ex Form just because he must include the Ord Form. Not only does he have no authority to make this distinction and enforce it, it betrays a lack of obedience to the mind of the Holy Father on the subject. This creates scandal, and in turn encourages a lack of obedience to him as ordinary.

    The bottom line is that it was an unforced error which only served to alienate friends of the ordinariate. It was totally unnecessary, and is probably illegal, as time will tell.

  4. I am very much in favor of the TLM --- because I was raised with it and it takes me back to the "golden years" of my youth. I was first tutored in Church Latin at age seven through sheer rote but, unfortunately, with very little translation of the lexicon other than a handful of the most frequently-used nouns and adjectives. Later I received a very strong dose of the ancient tongue at seminary (both in Latin classes as well as through attendance at daily Lauds, Mass, and Vespers.

    Inspite of my predilection for Latin, I DO totally understand MONSIGNOR Steenson's loyalty to the Holy Father's vision for the Ordinariate.
    I prefer to refer to him as Monsignor because the good Ordinary has an office and title and these deserve respect as does the very person of the Ordinary who is worthily pursuing his mission.

    The Pope has charged him with the maintenance of the liturgical traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Church and that is precisely what he intends to do! Ad Multos Annos!

    If he has misinterpreted Pope Benedict XVI intentions, then let the Pontiff clarify his instructions to him. We haven't the erudition nor the ecclesiastical jurisdiction to "correct" the Ordinary. I personally wish to applaud all his efforts in pastoring his flock.

    I pray he be rewarded one hundredfold!

    As for the rest of us, may the Lord grant His Peace to one and all,


  5. @Dinis, no need to be a snob. My opinion is as valid as yours, provided I back it up with facts and logic. Despite your efforts, I won't be silenced or cowed into silence. The Second Vatican Council empowered the laity to speak up, and that's what I'm doing here.

    And I disagree with you. I also respect your right to disagree with me.

    1. Nevertheless, Dennis is correct that Monsignor Steenson, at least in the first reference to him in any piece of writing, should be referred to with his title. That is common courtesy and is not really subject to debate. Sometimes, after a first reference with title, people are then referred to by last name only (this is common in newspapers).

      Your opinions are welcome, if, as you say, backed by facts and logic. "Validity", as a property may have it's place in a logic class, but in religious discussion validity has to take a back seat both to truth and charity, which should always walk hand-in-hand.

    2. Has anyone considered that the situation since SP was promulgated has changed - particularly in regard to the Ordinariates? When SP was promulgated in 2007, the Ordinariates were not yet a gleam in the Holy Father's eye. However, unlike in 2007 there is now an entity that has been created post SP for former Anglicans with a specific traditional liturgy permitted just for their use. Given the Ordinariate's "charism" and purpose, and given the close relationship that the Ordinariates have with CDF, isn't it likely that Msgr. Steenson would have checked this out with them prior to making this announcement? I think that it is unfair and not giving the Ordinary the benefit of the doubt to immediately jump to the conclusion that he is acting without permission.

      The Ordinary does not have to justify himself or prove what permissions he has received to the rest of us. That is between him and CDF. But I think that given the new situation and that the Ordinariates were created after SP, and the fact that they have a specific liturgy created for them to use, an exception may have been made for them - this is both plausible and rational. If they had been created prior to SP, the situation would be much clearer. But Archbishop DiNoia is part of CDF and was instrumental in the development of the Ordinariates. Presuming disobedience in this circumstance given that very close relationship with CDF is just unfair and unsupported without further evidence. IMHO he should be given the benefit of the doubt.

      Ryan, #5 I think I'd be more careful declaring that you are the one who can declare that the Ordinary isn't following the mind of the Holy Father. I suspect that given that Msgr. Steenson is directly answerable to CDF and the Holy Father, that he is in a considerably better position to know what his will is than you do - particularly if you are basing your interpretation on a document that was promulgated 5 years ago and prior to the creation of the Ordinariates. Your interpretation may be based on old information.

    3. I will stipulate that the ordinary should be addressed as "Msgr. Steenson." No disrespect was intended, only brevity.

    4. As to the argument that the Ordinariate directives mean that SP directives have been overturned, that fails on several tests:

      1. There is nothing in the ordinariate constitutions which do any such thing,

      2. It's illogical to say that anything coming after SP means that you get to follow that to the exclusion of SP. Are we ignoring everything that came out prior to 2010 (or whenever AC was issued)? That's downright un-Catholic ecclesiology, and

      3. It's disproved on point by a document subsequent to AC and touching upon SP--Universae Ecclesiae. Here is the relevant (and post-AC) section there:

      "23. The faculty to celebrate sine populo (or with the participation of only one minister) in the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite is given by the Motu Proprio to all priests, whether secular or religious (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art. 2). For such celebrations therefore, priests, by provision of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, do not require any special permission from their Ordinaries or superiors."

      In case we need a review of the cited section of SP:

      "Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such celebrations, with either one Missal or the other, the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary."

      Considering UE came out subsequent to AC, and reinforced the permissions given in SP, that should close up that little theory. Msgr. Steenson has clearly exceeded his authority as ordinary. The plain language of the texts and logic makes this obvious.

      What is not obvious, but is a logical opinion I have a right to assert, is that Msgr. Steenson is not following the "mens" of the Holy Father on this matter (as articulated by SP and UE). If someone at CDF or Cardinal Wuerl (or whomever) gave him advice to the contrary, neither is he. That's my informed opinion, not a fact.

    5. Wayfarer, I have to disagree with you and agree with Ryan that the fact that Anglicanorum coetibus was promulgated after Summorum Pontificum somehow exempts it from the provisions of SP. If that were the case, then either AC or the Norms published with it would have alluded to the exemption of AC from the provisions of SP. Instead, AC specifically says, "Without excluding liturgical celebrations according to the Roman Rite, the Ordinariate has the faculty to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and the other Sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours and other liturgical celebrations according to the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition...". The Roman Rite is defined in SP as being available in two forms, ordinary (2002 Missal) and extraordinary (1962 Missal). As Ryan has noted, Universae Ecclesiae was issued after AC, and also does not allow for any restrictions on the use of the 1962 Missal.
      The only place, then, where we might see a restriction of the 1962 Missal in the US Ordinariate is in the as-yet-unapproved Specific Norms, which, according to Msgr. Steenson's Update, are now in Rome awaiting approval. It seems to me that those Norms, when approved and published, will answer the questions we have about this prohibition.

    6. I don't think I was clear - I'm not saying that somehow within the documents THAT WE KNOW ABOUT that the Ordinariate is exempted. What I'm saying is that given the communication and oversight between the Ordinariates and CDF, the Ordinary may have specific information, dispensation, or a permission that we are unaware of - particularly given that there is a liturgy being developed that has not been issued. Thus we can look at the documents until the cows come home, but we don't know what has been said or granted to him by CDF that we DON'T know about behind the scenes. He may have information that we are not privvy to and is acting accordingly, and that to presume that he is acting outside of the CDF's knowledge or permission is at best premature and an unfair assumption.

    7. Wayfarer, perhaps that is the case, but it is a given of Catholic moral theology that until a law is published, it does not have legal standing. A dispensation from a general law, that is, one that affects large numbers, would need some sort of publication. I would expect that if there were such a change in universal law for the Ordinariate in the US, that would have been cited by Msgr. Steenson in one of his two pastoral letters that have mentioned the Latin Mass, or in his letter to the Ordinariate clergy in which the policy prohibiting TLMs from Ordinariate parishes was made known.

  6. Ryan, I would like to respond to your point 2 above.
    2. Steenson seems to think that the TLM will exclude celebration of the Anglican Use. Why would this not also be the case with the Ordinary Form? That doesn't make any sense. He is trying to have it both ways, and it doesn't hold up to logic.

    Ultimately, there will be one liturgical rite for all of the Ordinariates, which as of today are actually using variants of the Book of Divine Worship's Rite I. In the Ordinariate in the United Kingdom, most of the groups, even before their reception into full communion with Rome, were using the English 1973 Roman Missal for Mass, even if they used Common Worship or the 1662 Book of Common Prayer for Evensong or other services such as marriage and funerals. The logic of having the contemporary language liturgies of the Ordinariate be that of the newly translated English 2002 Roman Missal is that all of the Ordinariates use the same rite for contemporary language liturgy. Now, you and I may not agree with this (I have already posted on why I think the Rite II of the Book of Divine Worship would be preferable), but it does make sense and hold up to logic.

    In which case, the discussion really should be restricted to why has the TLM been banned as an Ordinariate liturgy here in the US. I maintain that the likely reason is that there is a desire to avoid Ordinariate parishes from becoming focal points for the "traditionalist groups" you mention, which commonly harbor at least a few people who look on the modern Roman Rite as invalid and who might well transfer that same opinion to the Ordinariate liturgy. We have all read numerous posts denigrating, among other things, the offertory rite as sub-Catholic. The concern then, is not about the liturgy, but is primarily concerned with preserving the peace and communion of the local community.

    I am not convinced that the way this was done is legitimate; it may be that banning the TLM from Ordinariate premises, while allowing it's use to Ordinariate priests in other venues will pass canonical muster, but that is not obvious. This may be a case of attempting to pursue a good end (preserve the peace and communion of the ordinariate communities) through a wrong means (by prohibiting a legitimate liturgical rite) -- and of course, a good end doesn't make a wrong means right. The legitimacy of the means will be decided by Rome. But to me, agree or not, it isn't illogical or beyond reason.

    1. Steve, if the ordinary had any authority to ban the Ex Form for the reasons he gave (to foster their own distinct rite, to keep out pesky traddie groups who will cause dissension, etc.), I could see your point. After all, he is the ordinary, and he gets to say what goes. Then it becomes a matter of my simply not liking his legitimately-made opinion.

      The problem is, he doesn't have that right. The whole point of SP and UE was to take this very authority away from ordinaries (who abused it in the Ecclesia Dei adflicta era). The whole point was to move the authority down the chain to the pastor/priest level.

      In the words Fr. Z might have used a few years ago, Msgr. Steenson--having been presented with SP/UE--is trying to implement EDA now that it's been superseded. Too late--that authority is not resident with his office anymore.

      Suppose there is a stable group of the faithful at an AO parish who requests to their pastor that they have provision made for the Ex Form? The answer is obvious--it's the same process as any other parish. The pastor should make provision for them. If he cannot, his ordinary should help make provision for them. That's the way this is supposed to happen. Instead, Msgr. Steenson has turned the entire process on its head.

      He has exceeded his mandate as ordinary in a way that is both canonically-illegal and imprudent to the highest degree. He has done grave damage to the goodwill the Ordinariate has enjoyed up to this point. I hope he either comes to his senses with the help of his pastors and faithful, or that is corrected by the Ecclesia Dei commission or CDF. It isn't too late to undo the unforced shot in the foot he has given himself and his flock.