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

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Head of Anglican ordinariate grateful for former pope’s generosity, hopeful for future


Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson delivers a homily, March 7, at Our Lady of
Guadalupe Church in Anchorage during Father Ken Bolin’s
ordination to the priesthood. — Photo by Fr. Frank Reitter
Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson is a Catholic priest and former bishop in the Anglican Church. In 2012 Benedict XVI appointed him to lead the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, the new structure in North America by which former Anglicans can enter the Catholic Church while preserving many of their traditions.

As a married man, Msgr. Steenson cannot be ordained a bishop and thus depends on Catholic bishops to ordain priests for the Anglican ordinariate.

In March he was at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Anchorage where he delivered the homily at Father Ken Bolin’s ordination to the priesthood. Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz ordained Father Bolin for the Anglican ordinariate.

After the liturgy, Msgr. Steenson spoke with the Catholic Anchor.

Could you comment on the Anglican ordinariate, how you’ve seen it develop, and how you think it will continue with the next papacy?

Msgr. Steenson: Our time with Pope Benedict was way too short! He created the ordinariate for the U.S. and Canada just last January 1. But he had been involved with this project when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. He’s so important to this.

I remember that, when I heard the news that he was stepping down as pope, I had a little stab of fear in my heart: “What’s going to happen to us?” But, in his wisdom, when he created the ordinariate he did it with an Apostolic Constitution, which gives us stability and permanence. The last two weeks I’ve been in Rome to meet the various congregations, and I consistently heard from everyone, “You’re family now.” I think that, whoever is chosen as pope, we’re not going to have to start from scratch.

Many cardinals were excited that the ordinariate is about bringing people into the church. Groups that are committed to evangelization and Christian unity will thrive — the Lord will bless them. That’s the heart of what Jesus had for us.

You liberally quoted the Church Fathers in your homily. Could you comment on Pope Benedict’s beatification of (Anglican convert) John Henry Cardinal Newman, and how Newman’s study of the Fathers brought him into the Catholic Church?

Msgr. Steenson: I was at Newman’s beatification. I was sitting with the priests as a concelebrant. It was so thrilling — it was the happiest I had ever seen Pope Benedict. He was so totally “in” that liturgy. And his face was beaming, you know, because Newman was important for him as a seminarian.

It’s a controversial point, but Newman is sometimes called the “hidden peritus” of the Second Vatican Council. What Newman did for the Catholic Church was teach her to think historically, with a critical-historical eye, to begin to understand the development and continuity of doctrine. This is something that deeply influenced Pope Benedict.

Newman is incredibly important for so many of us. He worked through the question, “Can you be a Catholic without being in communion with Rome,” and how the early church theologians would answer that question. “The Arians of the Fourth Century” — it’s not read by many people, but it is really a phenomenal piece of work. In there, (Newman) talks about the role of the Bishop of Rome, and how the whole Arian crisis (which claimed that Christ was not equal to God) was ultimately resolved. That really affected me...

Read the rest at the Catholic Anchor.

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