Pope names cleric for ex-Anglicans
Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday named a married priest and former sportswriter who converted from Anglicanism to head the first organizational structure for U.S. converts to Roman Catholicism wanting to retain some of their Anglican heritage.
A Vatican announcement said that the Rev. Jeffrey Neil Steenson, a former rector at an Episcopal church in Texas, will lead the Personal Ordinariate, the equivalent of a diocese. The Vatican created the first such ordinariate in Britain last year.
Benedict in 2009 issued an unprecedented invitation for Anglicans to join the Catholic Church in groups or as parishes. Formerly, converts were accepted case-by-case.
Married Anglican priests who convert can stay married and become priests in the Roman Catholic Church, an exception to the Vatican’s celibacy rule.
Father Steenson previously served as a bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, in Albuquerque, N.M., from 2004 to 2007.
While the Vatican allows married priests who convert to be priests in the Catholic Church, it does not allow married bishops to keep that rank when converting. Thus, Father Steenson is a priest but not a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church.
U.S. Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl had announced in November that Anglicans who want to become Roman Catholics would have a formal body to oversee their conversion starting Jan. 1.
Father Steenson, 59, who converted to Catholicism in 2007, was married in 1974 and has three adult children. He was ordained a priest in the Catholic church in 2009 and assigned to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, in New Mexico. He has a doctorate from the University of Oxford and a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School, among other degrees.
Prince Philip attends church
Queen Elizabeth II’s 90-year-old husband was admitted to the hospital just before Christmas with chest pains and underwent a successful coronary stent procedure.
He missed the royal family’s traditional Boxing Day shooting party Monday at the queen’s private Sandringham estate in Norfolk, an event he usually leads.
But he was cheerful as he arrived at Sandringham church Sunday morning. The queen arrived by car, but Philip walked the 400 yards from the house to the church.
About 300 members of the public gathered outside the church to wish the royal family well.
Pope: Future hopes lie with youth
Pope Benedict XVI in his New Year’s homily Sunday praised young people as key to securing a future of hope despite what he called “shadows on the horizon of today’s world.”
In the splendor of St. Peter’s Basilica, with ambassadors to the Holy See from dozens of countries seated in the front rows, the pontiff, wearing white vestments with gold-colored trimmings, celebrated Mass on a day the Vatican dedicates to world peace.
“I would like to underline the fact that, in the face of the shadows that obscure the horizon of today’s world, to assume responsibility for educating young people in knowledge of the truth, in fundamental values and virtues, is to look to the future with hope,” the pontiff said.
Young people, he said, must “learn the importance and the art of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, dialogue and understanding. Young people by their nature are open to these attitudes, but the social reality in which they grow up can lead them to think and act in the opposite way, even to be intolerant and violent.”
But they will become “builders of peace” if properly educated, he predicted.
The 84-year-old Benedict looked tired during Mass, but his voice was strong, and he smiled and chatted briefly with families and young children who carried gifts to him during the ceremony. He seemed amused by one pacifier-sucking infant as the parents kneeled before the pope.
As he has for the past few months, Benedict used a wheeled platform, guided by ushers, to moved down the basilica’s long aisle between entrance and main altar. The Vatican has said the device is meant to cut down on exertion but is not employed because of any medical reason.