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Pope Francis appoints new bishop for Catholics nurtured in the Anglican Communion

Pope Francis   announced the appointment of the first Bishop of the ordinate of the chair of Peter, Msgr. Steven J. Lopes. The Ordinariate has more than 40 Roman Catholic parishes and communities across the United States and Canada

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is equivalent to a diocese for Roman Catholics who were nurtured in the Anglican tradition. The Ordinariate was created by the Vatican on Jan. 1, 2012.On November 24, 2015.

The Vatican announced in a Nov. 24 communique that Msgr. Steven Joseph Lopes, an official in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, would be consecrated as bishop for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, which encompasses Anglican-tradition Catholic communities in the U.S. and Canada.

“It is a great joy and privilege to be joined to this Particular Church under the patronage of St. Peter, and to share in its mission of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Bishop-elect Lopes said at the Tuesday news conference. He praised the Ordinariate’s Catholics of Anglican heritage, saying their courage and sacrifice to live in communion with the Bishop of Rome “can and should move the heart of every Catholic.”

The episcopal ordination of Bishop-elect Lopes is scheduled for Feb. 2, 2016 in Houston.

Bishop-Elect Lopez succeeds Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson who is ineligible to become Bishop because he is married. Monsignor Steenson, a former bishop of the Episcopal Church was received into the Catholic Church with his wife after 28 years of ministry in the Church of England and was ordained to the Catholic priesthood two years later.

Steven Joseph Lopes 40,was born in Fremont, California,the only child of Dr. José de Oliveira Lopes (deceased) and Barbara Jane Lopes. He studied philosophy at the University of San Francisco and at Leopold-Franzens University in Innsbruck. He did his seminary studies at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, and in Rome at the Pontifical North American College, was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of San Francisco in 2001. Since 2005, he has served as an official of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office responsible for promoting and preserving Catholic teaching And since 2012 he has served as secretary of the Vatican’s “Anglicanae Traditiones” commission, which was responsible for developing “Divine Worship,” the new missal for use in the personal ordinariates. He holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. . He was named a monsignor in 2010.

Although Bishop-elect Lopes was not raised in the Anglican tradition, Mgr Steenson said he related closely with former Anglicans and with the establishment of the ordinariates for them that “there is no one who knows better” the personal stories of those nurtured in the Anglican church and the history of the creation of the ordinariates for Anglicans who wanted to enter into full communion in the Catholic church.

Monsignor Steenson released the following statement:

What wonderful news from the Holy See this morning, that Pope Francis has appointed Msgr. Steven Lopes to be the first bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter for Canada and the United States!

This is the happy outcome of much careful consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to whom I first made this request almost a year ago. I welcome this news with all my heart, for the Ordinariate has now progressed to the point where a bishop is much needed for our life and mission. A bishop will help to give the Ordinariate the stability and permanence necessary to fulfil its mission to be a work of Catholic unity, whose roots are to be found in the great texts of the Second Vatican Council.

That the Ordinariate would ultimately be headed by a bishop has been the intention of Anglicanorum coetibus, the apostolic constitution under which we were established in 2012. It is indeed an encouraging sign that we have reached that goal.  With the inauguration of our new missal, Divine Worship, on the first Sunday of Advent, the time seems especially propitious.

It was on the occasion of my reception into the Catholic Church in 2007 when I first met Msgr. Lopes, and we have worked closely together ever since. There is no one who knows better the work of the Pastoral Provision and the Ordinariates: those entities created in response to Anglicans seeking full communion with the Catholic Church.  Msgr. Lopes has been deeply involved the Anglicanae Traditiones Commission, charged with identifying “that liturgical expression which has nourished and maintained Catholic faith amongst Anglicans throughout the period of ecclesial separation and which in these days has given rise to aspirations for full communion with the Catholic Church.” He is thus uniquely qualified to be our first bishop.

It is particularly noteworthy that the Holy Father’s appointment is the culmination of a process for selecting an ordinary laid out in Article IV of the Complementary Norms of Anglicanorum coetibus. This provides for a significant consultative process that begins with the Governing Council of the Ordinariate presenting a terna of candidates. I am grateful to the members of the Governing Council, who accomplished this task with discernment and discretion.

I am grateful, too, for the encouragement, wise counsel, and support of the members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops during these first four years of the Ordinariate’s existence. I will always treasure the friendships made with these bishops. Their warm welcome for us pilgrims has certainly deepened the joy we know as Catholics.


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