A good friend, Fr. Steven Lopes, was just named today to a very important post in the United States – a good news/bad news announcement. Good news, obviously, for Fr. Steven but bad for those of us here in Rome who have enjoyed his friendship for so many years. I will talk about the Ordinariate to which he was named in the story below and give you some background on the Personal Ordinariate, its history and early beginnings in the UK.

I met with the very first Ordinary, Msgr. Keith Newton, exactly two weeks after the big announcement was made on January 15, 2011 in London. I’ve followed the Personal Ordinariate since its institution by Pope Benedict in 2009, as you may remember from these pages and my interviews on Vatican Insider.  I spent 5 days in London in January 2011 researching the newly established Ordinariate and interviewing people.

Part of my report comes from the columns I wrote in London and part from the Ordinariate media office which published a news letter immediately after the announcement today in Rome. I also feature a Q&A from 2011 that explains the Personal Ordinariate quite well. The Ordinariate has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CSPOrdinariate

God speed, Bishop-elect Steven!  May God sit on your shoulder! May we meet again at “La Vittoria” to break bread before your permanent departure for Houston!  Our paths crossed last week at La Vittoria: Fr. Steve and a friend were leaving and I was arriving and Fr. Keyes took a photo and posted it on my Facebook page on Nov. 20.



A brief Vatican communique this morning noted that, about 10:30 today, Pope Francis visited IOR, the Institute for the Works of Religion commonly called the Vatican bank. He met with the Board of Directors for approximately twenty minutes, at which time he announced the appointment of Dr. Gian Franco Mammi as the new director general. He will be assisted by Dr. Giulio Mattietti, pending the selection of a new deputy director. (photo: L’Osservatore Romano)IOR - Pope


The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis has appointed Msgr. Steven Lopes as the first bishop Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of The Chair of St. Peter. The bishop-elect was born in Fremont, California and was ordained a priest in 2001. He holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and is currently an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Personal Ordinariate is a structure equivalent to a diocese for Roman Catholics who were raised in the Anglican tradition. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was established by Pope Benedict on January 1, 2012, with its headquarters in Houston, Texas. Instituted to serve Roman Catholics across the U.S. and Canada, it is the first diocese of its kind in North America. The Ordinariate was created to provide a path for groups of Anglicans to become fully Roman Catholic, while retaining elements of their worship traditions and spiritual heritage in their union with the Holy Roman Church.

The first such Ordinariate was the Personal Ordiniariate of our Lady of Walsingham. On Saturday, January 15, 2011 the Vatican announced that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith erected a Personal Ordinariate within the territory of England and Wales for those groups of Anglican clergy and faithful who have expressed their desire to enter into full visible communion with the Catholic Church. This was in accordance with the provisions of Pope Benedict’s November 4, 2009 Apostolic Constitution ‘Anglicanorum coetibus’ that provided for the erection of such an ordinariate and came after careful consultation with the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales.

The Vatican statement announcing the first Ordinariate noted that, “For doctrinal reasons, the Church does not, in any circumstances, allow the ordination of married men as bishops. However, the Apostolic Constitution does provide, under certain conditions, for the ordination as Catholic priests of former Anglican married clergy.” Keith Newton, a married bishop in the Anglican tradition, was named as the first ordinary of Walsingham. He may wear his episcopal attire but has the title ‘Monsignor’.

Bishop-elect Lopes’ appointment comes just five days before the Ordinariate begins using Divine Worship: The Missal, a new book of liturgical texts for the celebration of Mass in the Personal Ordinariates around the globe. The texts were approved by the Vatican for use beginning the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 29, 2015.

Bishop-elect Lopes was directly involved in developing these texts for worship: since 2011, he has served as the executive coordinator of the Vatican commission, Anglicanae Traditiones, which produced the new texts. The new missal is a milestone in the life of the Ordinariate, since the Ordinariate’s mission is particularly expressed through the reverence and beauty of its worship, which shares the treasury of the Anglican liturgical and musical traditions with the wider Catholic community.

The Ordinariate news release explained that Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson, who headed the Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter since 2012, introduced Bishop-elect Lopes at a news conference today at the Chancery Offices of the Ordinariate in Houston. “With this appointment,” it says, “Pope Francis affirms and amplifies Pope Benedict’s vision for Christian unity, in which diverse expressions of one faith are joined together in the Church.”

By naming Bishop-elect Lopes, the Pope has confirmed that the Ordinariate is a permanent, enduring part of the Catholic Church, like any other diocese – one that is now given a bishop so that it may deepen its contribution to the life of the Church and the world.


The following Q&A was part of a lengthy communiqué issued by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales at the historic announcement of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham on January 15, 2011:

Why did Pope Benedict XVI publish Anglicanorum coetibus?

As the Holy Father stated when he published “Anglicanorum coetibus,” he was responding to petitions received “repeatedly and insistently” by him from groups of Anglicans wishing “to be received into full communion individually as well as corporately” with the Catholic Church. During his address to the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales at Oscott last September, Pope Benedict was therefore keen to stress that the Apostolic Constitution “should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all.”  In this way, the establishment of the Ordinariate is clearly intended to serve the wider and unchanging aim of the full visible unity between the Catholic Church and the members of the Anglican Communion.

Will members of the Ordinariate still be Anglicans?

No. Members of the Ordinariate will be Catholics. Their decision is to leave the Anglican Communion and come into the Catholic Church, in full communion with the Pope. The central purpose of Anglicanorum coetibus is “to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared”. Members of the Ordinariate will bring with them, into full communion with the Catholic Church in all its diversity and richness of liturgical rites and traditions, some aspects their own Anglican patrimony and culture. It is recognised that the term Anglican patrimony is difficult to define but it would include many of the spiritual writings, prayers, hymnody, and pastoral practices distinctive to the Anglican tradition which have sustained the faith and longing of many Anglican faithful for that very unity for which Christ prayed. The Ordinariate will then bring a mutual enrichment and exchange of gifts, in an authentic and visible form of full communion, between those baptised and nurtured in Anglicanism and the Catholic Church.

Do all Anglicans who wish to become Catholics now have to be members of the Ordinariate?

No. Any individual former Anglican who wishes to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church, may do so without becoming a registered member of the Ordinariate. As stated above, the Ordinariate is being established essentially for groups of former Anglican faithful and their clergy who wish to maintain as members of the Catholic Church, within the canonically approved and structured ecclesial life of the Ordinariate, those aspects of their Anglican spiritual, liturgical and pastoral tradition which are recognised as authentic by the Catholic Church.

What is the ‘Ordinariate’ then?

The Ordinariate will be a specific ecclesiastical jurisdiction that is similar to a diocese and will be led by its own ‘Ordinary’ … who will be a bishop or priest. However, unlike a diocese its membership will be on a ‘personal’ rather than a ‘territorial’ basis; that is, no matter where a member of the Ordinariate lives within England and Wales they will, in the first instance, be under the ordinary ecclesial jurisdiction of the Ordinariate and not the diocese where they are resident. The Ordinariate will be made up of laity, clergy and religious who were formerly members of the Anglican Communion. Following reception into full communion with the Catholic Church, the laity and religious will become members of the Ordinariate by enrolment in a register; with ordination as priests and deacons, the clergy will be directly incardinated into (placed under the jurisdiction of) the Ordinariate.”