This broke while I was away from my desk, in the middle of the Sunday Marathon of Masses, but Rocco has all you need to know:
In an unprecedented Sunday announcement — a significant sign of Rome’s degree of seriousness about the effort — the Vatican’s press bulletin gave official word of the erection of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, encompassing the territory of the United States. The national quasi-diocese for the entering groups is the second of its kind, following England’s Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was launched a year ago this month.
Fr Jeffrey Steenson, 59, the former Episcopal bishop of Rio Grande ordained a priest of the archdiocese of Santa Fe in 2009, has been named the founding Ordinary. A married father of three and Oxford-trained patristics scholar who’s been serving until now as a professor at Houston’s St Mary’s Seminary and University of St Thomas, Steenson’s appointment is effective immediately.
But the real interesting nugget is buried further down in Rocco’s report, which indicates this “married father of three” will effectively be a bishop in everything but name:
Even as Steenson will be able to exercise the full authority of a bishop among his nationwide flock, the Anglicanorum provisions and Catholic theology preclude the elevation of a married cleric to the episcopacy. As Ordinary — that is, head of an ecclesial organ “juridically equivalent to a diocese” — he will regardless have full membership in the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In addition, any former Anglican bishops ordained to the Catholic priesthood may use the use “the insignia of the episcopal office” after seeking Rome’s permission — which, according to one credible report, Steenson has already received — and are entitled to sit in the episcopal conference with the status of a retired prelate.
To date, one other prior Episcopal hierarch, the now-former Bishop John Lipscomb of Southwest Florida, was also ordained a Catholic priest in 2009. The 61 year-old cleric serves in the diocese of St Petersburg.