For those of us who follow the ins and outs of Episcopalians, Anglicans and Catholics, there was an interesting development recently when the Vatican appointed a bishop to oversee 42 Anglican-rite North American churches. They had converted as congregations to Catholicism but retained some of their Anglican liturgies and customs, such as married clergy.
This group of Anglican churches is called an ordinariate and a system of bringing them into the Catholic fold was created in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. The priest he originally tapped to head it up was Father Jeffrey Steenson, the former Episcopal bishop of the Albuquerque-based Rio Grande diocese (which is New Mexico and a corner of far west Texas).
Steenson was elected bishop in October 2004 and consecrated in January 2005. Then less then two years later in September 2007, he shocked his diocese by announcing he was turning Catholic and resigning his position. More on Steenson in a bit, but first see how the Houston Chronicle covered the new bishop:
Days before the Catholic Church announced Steven Lopes’ impending appointment as bishop, the 40-year-old cleric had a brief conversation with Pope Francis.
Lopes reminded the pontiff of the instructions he had given to new bishops, urging them to “tend to the flock of God that is in your charge” and not become “airport bishops.”
“I asked for a little exception,” Lopes said Tuesday, as about 50 people gathered in the sunlit Great Hall of Our Lady of Walsingham burst into laughter. “I imagine I’ll be on the road a lot.”