(Living Church) Father Steenson: 'Leave All that Anger Behind'

If the Ordinariate in the United States is a Vatican effort to poach disgruntled Anglicans, Sunday-golfing ex-Anglicans or never-were Anglicans, its newly appointed leader has not received that memo.

In fact, says the Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson, Anglican does not appear in the new body’s formal name, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, because members will make no pretense of remaining Anglicans. And anyone who wants to enter the Ordinariate because of anger toward Anglicanism rather than a desire for deeper communion with the Roman Catholic Church probably ought to wait.

Steenson, who was bishop of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of the Rio Grande from 2004 to 2007, will be invested as the first Ordinary of the Ordinariate during a Mass at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Houston, Feb. 12.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, TEC Bishops

17 comments on “(Living Church) Father Steenson: 'Leave All that Anger Behind'

  1. Anastasios says:

    The Bishop of Texas was indeed gracious. Compare that with a front-page story in yesterday’s Albuquerque paper where sour grapes clergy of Steenson’s former diocese of the Rio Grande feel themselves “betrayed” by his new appointment.

  2. Ad Orientem says:

    Excellent comments by Fr. Steenson. One can have many reasons for leaving a church. But the only acceptable reason for joining one is that you are in full (or at least substantive if they aren’t dogmatic) agreement with what they teach and preach. If you are leaving because you honestly believe that your present spiritual home has departed from orthodoxy (small ‘o’) to a degree you can no longer accept that’s all well and fine. But you need to check that baggage at the door when you enter your new home.

  3. Alta Californian says:

    I can’t think of a better choice for Rome to have made.

    Doyle’s response was also splendid.

  4. David Wilson says:

    I think for most of the TEC leadership the only one they really are substantially out to get is +Bob Duncan

  5. MichaelA says:

    Msr Steenson gets a seat and a vote in the Bishops’ Conference, very interesting…

  6. Charles52 says:

    While the Ordinariate is supposed to make nice with the diocesan organizational structure, I have some reservations about Fr. Steenson sitting in the councils of the bishops. He reports directly to Rome for a reason, and to involve him in in the councils of the American bishops could confuse the issue, not to mention make his life difficult.

    Interesting information on the USCCB (and it’s parent organizations) here:


  7. Gretta says:

    [blockquote] One can have many reasons for leaving a church. But the only acceptable reason for joining one is that you are in full (or at least substantive if they aren’t dogmatic) agreement with what they teach and preach. [/blockquote]

    You know Ad Orientem, I’ve wrestled with this in watching the problems in TEC unfold. Here’s my issue – is that if you are a person who is catholic in belief so that the idea of a non-sacramental Church is not a viable option, and that in conscience you can no longer remain in your Church, your options are somewhat limited. You can try to find some other flavor of Anglican, or go Orthodox, or go RC. That’s about it unless you choose simply not to go to church, but for catholics that really is not an option. It may be that none of the above options are so “perfect” a fit that you are in full agreement at the outset and so you have to go with the Church that most fits your beliefs (though possibly not all of them). But I don’t think that one must stop attending a Church until you find the perfect fit. Maybe you have to grit your teeth about some practices or teachings because it is the best choice available from the limited options, and regardless if having some theological disagreements with your new Church home it is still far better than the place you left. But if you must wait for full agreement before joining a new Church, some folks might be waiting a very long time.

  8. New Reformation Advocate says:

    A very nice article indeed. I was particularly struck by how Msgr. Steenson is practicing what he preaches, in that he has clearly worked through his own anger at TEC and left it behind. His gracious tribute to the pastoral care that +KJS extended to him is especially significant. His respectful attitude toward his former colleagues in the TEC HoB is likewise exemplary.

    Also, I relished the story at the very end about how his crozier once broke and that he fixed it temporarily with duct tape. That is a delightful symbol. The episcopate in TEC is indeed ncouragbadly broken, and the attempts to fix it do smack of duct tape.

    Congratulations to Doug LeBlanc for getting the interview and writing this fine, encouraging piece. It’s always refreshing when bishops act properly. Good news may not sell as well as bad news, but it’s much more edifying.

    David Handy+

  9. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    I think this is very wise advise that some of the continuing Anglican churches and the ACNA might seriously consider taking to heart. I know quite a few clergy in those churches that have not left that baggage at the door. And I fear they are poisoning their new spiritual homes by bringing that baggage with them.

  10. SamCuthbert says:

    I had a lot of anger about the Episcopal Church, mainly related to experiences I had as a clergyman’s son growing up–and when Gene Robinson was ordained a bishop in 2003, I considered converting to Orthodoxy. However, upon encountering religious the religious authoritarianism of Orthodoxy, I suddenly saw the full genius of Anglicanism–and having seen the full genius of Anglicanism, the last of my youthful anger at the Church fell away and I found peace with all the tensions and ambiguities of the Episcopal Church! The way I see it, those who are really unhappy with the Episcopal Church are trying to out-Catholic the Catholics. Anglicans and Catholics are not the same breed of fish, and they never will be!

    Sam Cuthbert

  11. Ad Orientem says:

    Re #7
    You posted a very interesting comment in which you are approaching the present situation from a distinctly catholic (as opposed to Protestant) perspective. My response would be that one most certainly should attend church somewhere. But the immemorial discipline of the Church is that communion and the Holy Sacraments are reserved for those in full doctrinal agreement. So by all means attend Mass (or the Divine Liturgy). But I would abstain from communion until you reach the point where you meet the standards for receiving communion in whichever church you are attending.

  12. MichaelA says:

    Interesting, I thought Gretta’s comment was a very “protestant” one! All a matter of perspective I suppose…!

  13. Peter C. says:

    The idea that one can write down one’s beliefs and use it as a sort of checklist to shop for a church that’s the closest match is a very Protestant one; a person utilizing such a method who believes that he or she will be happy in either the Orthodox or Roman Catholic Church is sadly mistaken. I’ve been Orthodox for almost 20 years and obtained a M.Div. degree from an Orthodox seminary, but I would be kidding myself if I thought I could make a checklist that would cover the entirety of Orthodox belief. True conversion to Orthodoxy or to Roman Catholicism means accepting the authority each claims as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. After all, the Greek for “private belief,” “αίρεση,” a belief held by a person contrary to the consensus of the Church, translates into the English word “heresy.” That same word also translates into English as “sect” or, most tellingly, “denomination.”

  14. MichaelA says:

    [blockquote] “True conversion to Orthodoxy or to Roman Catholicism means accepting the authority each claims as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” [/blockquote]
    And, necessarily, rejecting that authority when it is claimed by the OTHER One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Churches! (I use the plural, because its not just Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy that claim to be the One Church, but also Oriental Orthodoxy).
    [blockquote] “After all, the Greek for “private belief,” “αίρεση,” a belief held by a person contrary to the consensus of the Church, translates into the English word “heresy.” That same word also translates into English as “sect” or, most tellingly, “denomination.”” [/blockquote]
    Firstly, the word is not “αίρεση” but “αἵρεσις”, 3rd decl. [In case my font doesn’t come through on T19: “hairesis” declining through “hairesews” and plural “haireseis”, but never with an eta on the end]

    Secondly, the word means choice, purpose, course of action, or thought. It doesn’t particularly mean “private opinion”, but it did eventually come to mean an opinion held by a group of people in common. It came to be used for Greek schools of philosophy (because all members followed the one belief or αἵρεσις). Josephus later used it to refer to Jewish sects like the Essenes and Pharisees, all of whom he viewed as Jewish, but differing on permissible issues.

    Thirdly, Christians eventually came to use the word to refer to sects which differed from apostolic teaching. The Christian Church (i.e. the real One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, of which Anglicanism is a part) has never had a difficulty with private opinion. But it does say that we must follow all things set out in the teachings left to us by Christ, his Apostles and Prophets (i.e. what we call Scripture).

    Finally, there is no basis to refer to “denominations” as “heresies” (if that is what Peter C is driving at). From an Anglican point of view, it is in a way heretical NOT to have denominations, since we do not consider that any one church on earth constitutes the entirety of Christ’s One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

  15. Charles52 says:

    Actually, Rome affirms the Orthodox as true local Churches, hence having an authority of their own. Naturally, in the matters where we differ, becoming RC entails a specific confession and affiliation. There cannot be dual membership.

  16. SamCuthbert says:

    In an increasingly irrational atmosphere in which religion and politics are blending to a dangerous degree, Episcopalians are seen as the heretical scum of Christendom because they pursue a course of “not knowing” or tolerance when it comes to many of the divisive, “hot button” issues that have distracted the other churches. I am indeed comfortable with being the very least among Christians, but I am likewise “uncomfortable” with the totalitarian religion that I see among so many “true” believers. We prophesy in part and see through a glass, darkly, said Saint Paul–and I’ll continue to follow Christ imperfectly until I see Him face to face. So far, the Lord has not asked me to give my mind over to imperfect humans. I’ll follow Christ and think for myself and go to the cross, if necessary, for being a free-thinker.

    Sam Cuthbert

  17. MichaelA says:

    [blockquote] “I am indeed comfortable with being the very least among Christians…” [/blockquote]