Ordinariate Denies Favoritism Charges

The following article is from Anglican Ink, and it presents an issue which has floated around amongst both Ordinariate and non-Ordinariate clergy and laity. Posting this here should not be taken as doubting the assertion that there has been no favoritism shown, but it's probably important for the Ordinariate leadership to continue to take seriously the fact that there are those with this perception, and to address it in "thought, word and deed."

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Ordinariate denies favoritism charges

TEC clergy dominate new U.S. Anglican Ordinariate

By George Conger

The head of the U.S. branch of the Anglican Ordinariate, Msg. Jeffrey Steenson, has denied accusations it has given preference to former Episcopal clergy in its ordination process. However, among its first class of priests, 16 of 19 are former Episcopal clergy, with only 3 receiving their formation and orders from the continuing church.

Questions and concerns about the implementation and interpretation of Anglicanorum coetibus have met the Vatican’s initiative to create a liturgical home for Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church. In an interview with PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, Dr. Ian Markham, Dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary criticized the pastoral provision for Anglicans for sheep stealing.

“There was a perception that this was poaching by the Roman Catholic Church of Anglicans around the world. It was discourteous, it was stealing sheep, it was unecumenical,” he said, adding “It’s viewed as not recognizing the value of and integrity of our traditions.”

Its critics also charge the sheep stealing is directed towards the Church of England and the Episcopal Church. While talks began in 1991 between leaders of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) and the Vatican on returning Anglican Catholics to Rome, TAC clergy have been noticeably absent from the Ordinariates in the U.S. and U.K. The three TAC bishops who spearheaded the reunion efforts with Rome — David Moyer, John Hepworth and Louis Falk – are absent from the clergy ranks of the Ordinariate.

Some former TAC clergy who have applied for ordination in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter tell Anglican Ink that they have been treated brusquely. Others report that a year after contacting the Ordinariate’ s Washington office, they are still waiting to hear what the future holds.

One clergyman, who asked not to be named as he had applied for reception, told Anglican Ink he had been discouraged the “Pastoral Provision was so un-pastoral”. A “Fort Worth mafia” was dominating the U.S. Ordinariate – Msg. Steenson is a former Fort Worth rector, while the vicar for clergy, the Rt. Rev. Charles Hough III is the former canon to the ordinary of the Diocese of Fort Worth.

A second aspirant said he had been pressed to explain why he had not come to Rome when he left the Episcopal Church some twenty five years ago. If he accepted papal supremacy and the dogmas of the Catholic Church, why had he delayed a quarter century in making his submission, he was asked, the clergyman told AI.

The question is not an unfair one, however, as the Catholic Church’s self-understanding of its role in the economy of salvation is found in the statements of the Second Vatican Council.

Lumen Gentium 14 states: “Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved”, which on its face, would appear to render suspect in Roman eyes those who have held long standing doubts as to the veracity of Anglican truth claims and delayed going over to Rome.

Of the 19 clergy re-ordained for service in the Ordinariate, 7 have come directly from the Episcopal Church, 6 from the Episcopal Church via the Anglican Church in North America, 3 from the Episcopal Church via the Anglican Church in America, 2 from the Anglican Church in America, and 1 from the Charismatic Episcopal Church.

Asked to respond to the assertions of unfair treatement of TAC clergy, Msg. Steenson said:“Not true. The judgment of Apostolicae curae falls on each of us alike. We treat each applicant equally, and apply the objective criteria of discernment that the Catholic Church requires.”

Author: Fr. Christopher Phillips

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips is the pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he has served for the past twenty-eight years. He is the founding pastor of the first Anglican Use parish, erected in 1983 under the terms of the Pastoral Provision. Fr. Phillips was ordained as an Anglican for the Diocese of Bristol, England, in 1975. After serving as Curate for three years at St. Stephen Southmead, he returned to the United States and served in two Episcopal parishes in the Diocese of Rhode Island. In 1981 he left the Episcopal Church and moved with his family to Texas, where he was subsequently ordained as a Catholic priest in 1983. Fr. Phillips and his wife, JoAnn, have been married for forty years. They have five children, all grown and married, and three grandchildren.

41 thoughts on “Ordinariate Denies Favoritism Charges”

    1. The point being, however, that that's two more don't come from Ft Worth. I thought the accusation was unbelievable silly from the start. If a year from now two thirds of the Ordinariate clergy are from Ft Worth, then perhaps I might concede that the gripers are onto something. Until then, I will content myself with just rolling my eyes. 😎

      1. It seems like the Fort Worth connection has to mainly do with whom Msgr. Steenson is consulting with, not that there aren't priests from outside of Fort Worth. I think it would have to be that at least 2/3 of the Governing Council would be from outside of some connection with the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth to disprove the "gripers" point. I'd think not having a connection to Cardinal Wuerl's office might also help.

        Whereas the article refers to whether or not there is a favoritism to "former Episcopal Clergy", it would likely be more accurate to refer to clergy from the Anglican Communion. Whereas the two Canadians aren't from the Episcopal Church, which is the U.S. affiliate of the Anglican Communion, aren't they coming from the Anglican Communion? I believe that it may have been a bishop from outside the United States that issued a clarification that Anglicanorum Coetibus applies to more than just those that were part of the Anglican Communion at the time that it was issued, I'm not sure there has been an acknowledgment of such from the U.S. Ordinariate.

  1. I've wondered about the number of clergy that were promoting the Ordinariate prior to the appointment of Cardinal Wuerl to oversee its beginning, versus those that only came along afterwards.

    There might be some correlation as well regarding who had left the Episcopal Church prior to versus after the issuing of the Apostolic Constitution. In an early statement by Fr. Hurd he'd indicated that he felt it did not apply to those that had left prior, but that it was a subject for his inbox. I'm curious as to who was asking the question as to why the applicant had not come into the Church 25 years ago.

  2. The more important question is, has anyone been accepted for ordination who did not complete an M.Div or its equivalent in an accredited seminary?

  3. Well we all know what happened to Bp Moyer and former TAC Primate Hepworth. Rome has its standards and rightly so and any hint of scandal for potential clergy is a red flag. As for Abp Louis Falk, perhaps for his this is not God's time.

    1. In the case of Bishop Moyer, if it were Rome having its standards then I'd wonder why the CDF granted him the Nulla Osta. It has appeared to me that not having a good relationship with an Episcopal bishop might hinder ordination in the Catholic Church, as Msgr. Steenson has indicated at least a few times how he enjoys good working relations.

      Per one news story: "Steenson is thankful for the friendships from his years in the House of Bishops, and many of them continue. 'Those relationships will become really important to me now. We know that there’s a certain awkwardness here,' he said." Does this mean he is mainly receiving candidates that have the blessing of their former Episcopal bishop? That might have been an easier thing to get if they are coming from Forth Worth than other areas of the country.

      1. As for Steenson, many feel betrayed by him, as he has consistently left his former loyal flock in the lurch at every turn of his career since leaving Rosemont in 1989 and ingratiated himself to those useful to his next career move regardless of their theology or personal agenda. As for the ACA, its march to Rome broke up when certain of its bishops found out that their divorce-remarriages would not fly in the Ordinariate. Steenson's head must have been turned against Falk & Co. by the said bishops, as Steenson's head has been turned by others of influence without the Holy Father's knowledge.

        1. Given the relative ease with which an annulment can be obtained I find it hard to believe that this was a deal-breaker for anyone who was otherwise motivated.

          1. That may or may not be true; but in the case of those DAR (divorced-and-remarried) bishops, one of them had the idea that he could somehow end up as a bishop recognized by Rome as such, and both of them apparently thought that their (re)ordination by Rome was "a sure thing."

          2. Annulments with relative ease for anyone who had no egotistical plans to become an Ordinariate bishop. The down side is that the Ordinariate these days is is so strict that I know many folks who as admirers of Benedict and couldn't wait for the Ordinariate to be established simply don't feel welcome in the Ordinariate as Steenson is running it. For example, most RC priests interpret Section 293 of the Compendium of Catechism of the Catholic Church (dealing with the reception of communion) liberally, but not so in the Ordinariate. Whether it is Steenson or his handlers, except for a few faithful and desperate priests, the Ordinariate on its current trajectory is going nowhere fast. Pity.

            1. In other words, Steenson is holding up the traditional (and current official) teaching of the Catholic Church which is, to put it bluntly, that you have to be in communion to receive communion, except in some truly few and unusual circumstances — while "many" (Therese claims "most") Catholic priests simply "do their own thing" — and a Protestant "thing" at that — whenever it strikes their fancy. It is strange to see conservative Anglicans (or Episcopalians) implicitly praising those Catholic clergy whose disobedience to Catholic canonical and doctrinal norms so resembles the attitude of those who have brought ruin upon the Anglican communion.

  4. 293. When is it possible to give Holy Communion to other Christians?
    "Miniisters may licitly give Holy Communion to members of other ecclesial communities only if, in grave necessity, they ask for it of their own will, possess the required dispositions, and give evidence of holding the Catholic faith regarding the sacrament."
    "…in grave necessity,…", seems to be the operative phrase in the above sentence.

    1. Although William Tighe makes reasonable points for the long run, for the short run until things settle down Steenson is wrong to be unpastoral and stiff-necked during the emergency of the Anglican shipwreck. The word is getting out that the Ordinariate is not as welcoming as it needs to be at this crucial initial stage of its life, especially given the short-term opportunity presenting itself by Anglicanism's self-destruction. And who is Steenson to push denial of votums after Rome has already issued the nulla osta? Benedict needs to be made aware that his ship is not in good hands.

      1. I am curious if in the new process, that Msgr. Steenson is allowing a veto by either the local Catholic or Episcopal Bishop. It would seem implied in the process as described, which says that after the nulla osta, the candidate must "undergo a criminal background check and psychological evaluation, and obtain a votum (endorsement) from the Ordinary, from the Catholic bishop where the individual resides, and from his former Anglican ecclesiastical authority, if possible

        1. I'm not sure who actually wrote up the process, so it could be that Msgr. Steenson is merely following the process written up for him by Cardinal Wuerl's committee. The process under the Pastoral Provision seemed entirely up to the local bishop, many of whom were resistant based on their sense of Ecumenism or opposition to married priests. Anglicanorum Coetibus seemed to resolve that by leaving decisions up to a Personal Ordinary while the local bishop would merely be advised. If ordinations are now based on approval not only of the local Catholic bishop but with input from the Anglican ecclesiastical authority, that may make things tougher rather than easier.

          1. There's nothing wrong with asking his former Anglican Bish for a background check. I expect that they're usually pretty good at sorting out the "Well if I can't have him as a priest, NO ONE CAN" types.

            It's handy to do this also because he might have a "history" as a vicar which we want to know about which would not show up on any police check. Eg, having affairs with parishioners, major personality problems, he might have a history of 'loosing it' and screaming at parishioners…. I could go on…

    2. Speaking as an Anglican, I understood that there are 3 situations where Eucharistic Hospitality may be offered.
      1. Where there is no nearby Anglican church. This provision is used in France by English people who cannot attend the Church of England (Diocese of Europe)
      2. At Family celebrations of sorrow or joy, i.e. Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals.
      3. When someone is at the point of death.
      Perhaps someone with knowledge of RC canon law could confirm, or correct this.

      1. I have frequently heard (Catholic) priests announce before weddings and funerals that only members of the Catholic church in good standing are invited to receive communion. I presume they do this at the behest of the local bishop. This would seem to negate reason #2 above.

        1. As one of those Catholic priests who has made such an announcement can I say that Fr Tomlinson is incorrect in his second point, there is no provision for iopen nvitation to Holy Communion at weddings or funerals. A bride or groom who shares the same understaniding the Real Presence and regularly attejds their Church may, with the bishop's permission, receive Holy Communion but this is not a general invitation. A similar situation may obtain for particular mourners at a funeral.
          The provision in France again requires close belief in Catholic teaching in the Real Presence and an inability to find a Church in communion with your own.
          As a prison Chaplain, I have given Holy Communion to an Anglo-Catholic whose only option was a woman priest or a Baptist minister supplied for her. I believed this to be in line with the pastoral needs 'in extremis correctly

          1. #'in extremis' correctly and okayed it with the bishop.
            As for point three, absolutely correct Father. When I was a curate in Rochdale I was called to the bedside of an Anglo-Catholic lady who could find no appropriate Anglican to adninister Extreme Unction, Absolution and Viaticum. I gladly did so. Among her family was an Anglican religious sister who had attempted to find an Anglo-Catholic priest to help and failed. I was truly honoured to be able to respond and prepare this faithful lady for her journey to be with the Lord. It was one of those moments which replace rhetoric as a sign of basic unity in pastoral need.

            1. In brief, Fr Tomlinson is right in points 1 and 3 but incorrect, in terms of the open aspect of Holy Communion, in point 2.

              I apologise for the multiple posts and mistakes, the drawbacks of an Iphone.

          2. As Fr Gerard points out, a key point is that the priest cannot INVITE any non-Catholic to receive communion; he can only respond to a request, in certain circumstances.

            1. Which Austrian cardinal was it who said, If you can say Amen to the Canon you can receive communion?

  5. I thought the Ordinariate was supposed to usher in a new era of enthusisam and peace for those who had fought and battled for so long. Come on guys n gals! Time to give up this petty game playing and plunge deep into the rich opportuites at hand. Of course the Ordianriate won't be perfect – it's a human institution!! But it won't be much of anything if the old mindsets, antagonisms and game playings evident in some recent postings here is allowed to continue. Sometimes in the past we have been our own worst enemy. I hope it won't be that way in the future….

    1. Rene: Very well said!

      Supposedly children who were abused end up as abusing adults. I know some Traditionalist Catholics (I am a Traditionalist) who had been abused and affronted for so long that they had ended up, at best, a crew of the cross, the crabby, and the constipated, and at worst the defamatory, the destructive, and those even physically endangering, to say nothing of the ossified, the paranoid, and those stampeding in panic at even the most insubstantial change or new idea. I've even met Traditionalists who will not accept the changes in 1955 for Holy Week. Now that things are "going our way", they still persist in their vituperative invective and fathomless bile. The end result: they turn priests against the Extraordinary Form, and thus Traditionalists destroy what they claim to love.

      Anglo-Catholics have had to deal with even more maltreatment and revilement. Time to give it up. One doesn't have to swim the Tiber now; Holy Father, the Pontifex Maximus, has built a bridge and has said that a Praybook in the backpack is just fine.

      1. What person calling himself a 'Traditionalist' could possibly accept 1950s butchery?

        Unless one's idea of old is 60 years ago.

      2. Jack Orlando said, inter alia, "Anglo-Catholics have had to deal with even more maltreatment and revilement. Time to give it up. One doesn't have to swim the Tiber now; Holy Father, the Pontifex Maximus, has built a bridge and has said that a Praybook in the backpack is just fine."

        Alas, while the Holy Father has built a bridge, the Ordinary (Steenson) has put a toll booth on the bridge and staffed it with the USCCB's toadies and given instructions that "none shall pass" – unless they come directly from the island of Heresia with no detours on the lifeboat SS Continua.

        1. Clearly that is not true, as a number of those recently ordained had left the Episcopal church for a continuing group; Frs Seraiah and Sly, to name two.

          1. Also, the Ordinariate parish in Towson, MD is also former TAC. And the TAC priest in that parish was ordained by Cardinal Wuerl. So, it is not true that TAC people are being shunted aside because they are TAC. I do think that it is true, however, for whatever reason, that TAC clergy tend to have more problematic "baggage" on average than non-TAC clergy, some of which were described by Dr. Tighe. As for Moyer, it was reported that the Archbishop of Philadelphia would not give his votum to Moyer, for whatever reason. If that is the case, then the issue is out of Steenson's hands for the moment until the reasons for the denial (whatever they are) no longer apply. And, as for St. Mary of the Angels, that is a shocking and unbelievable mess, and I think probably only God himself could straighen it out. If Steenson can straighten that situation out, then I doff my hat in honor.

            1. Chaput didn't have a dog in the Moyer mess, but he probably and Steenson definitely have an angry and influential friend who hates poor, faithful Moyer and will probably prolong litigation against him to the ends of the earth.

  6. @ Therese: Moyer is purveying the stick for beeing beaten, isn't he? What à silly idea to serve a Subpoena to the ordinary…
    + Pax et bonum

  7. Ok, ok, so the problem isn't so much that priests in the TAC aren't being ordained, it's men who received their priestly formation with the TAC who are being turned away? As we all know, the TAC hasn't the resources to build a seminary so their formation would, unfortunately, leave much to be desired. Rome is doing nothing wrong in being wary about ordaining these guys.

    1. I can't say I'm familiar with the statistics, but I'd think any problem would more have to do with men that were originally ordained in the Episcopal Church and left for the ACA sometime prior to Anglicanorum Coetibus, particularly so if the Vatican had granted them a nulla osta. It seems like one or more of the recently ordained coming from the ACA had been ordained within that body only recently.

      I'm not sure that there hasn't been much more in the way of obstacles for someone that led a community out of the Episcopal Church and into the ACA. Is it turning out that there are very few older communities being accepted along with the clergy, but rather new communities being formed after the AC with the intent of joining the Ordinariate? As an example, it seems Fr. Bartus had only been ordained for the ACA within the past couple of years and then organized his group in Orange County that never had the intent of being part of the ACA, but to join the Ordinariate. It seems like this has been the case with a number of other communities as well, they became a "community" only after the AC. If you have an established community, is entry into the Ordinariate contingent upon first working out some property settlement with the Episcopal bishop?

    2. If TAC had been as serious at its outset about reunion with the Catholic church as is frequently claimed, clerical formation would have been taken much more seriously and candidates would have been encouraged to take courses towards accredited Divinity degrees at rather than undergoing some kind of informal tutoring, in some cases without an undergraduate degree as a foundation.

      1. TAC did take priestly formation very seriously and encouraged education at every level. However a great number of aspirants for ordination who did have M.Divs did not receive them from so called “Approved Institutions”. The crux of the matter here is not where they received their education but rather that many do have Seminary educations and are being ignored cart blanch.

        The Continuing Anglican Church has been made up of dedicated clergy and laity who could no longer tolerate the heresy of worldwide Anglicanism with its rushed departure from the faith as handed down through the ages by the Apostles. The Episcopal Church in the United States led this heterodoxy and many Anglican Catholics could stand no more. This church was no longer practicing a faith that could be interpreted by the world’s greatest theologians, but rather followed the vote of the Liberals at conventions thus dictating not only to their faith, but also to the scope of their morality as well. Those dedicated clergy who chose to leave the Episcopal Church in the United States gave up good salaries and their benefits. In joining with others faithful to Catholic Traditions they were now faced with small congregations being forced to make do in borrowed church space, funeral homes, and even storefronts. Unlike many they did not continue to minister, tongue in cheek, quietly looking the other way, while protecting their coveted retirements. No, upon leaving the Episcopal Church, they gave up their retirements along with the buildings that they or their parents had paid for. Today these faithful men are now being routinely informed that their faithful pursuit of the Catholic Priesthood has been denied.

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