VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI named a married former Episcopal bishop Sunday to head the first U.S. organizational structure for disaffected Anglicans and Episcopalians who want to join the Catholic Church.
The Rev. Jeffrey Neil Steenson, a father of three and Catholic convert, will lead the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, the equivalent of a diocese, that will be based in Houston, Texas, but will operate nationally.
The Vatican created the first such ordinariate in Britain last year. Other ordinariates are being considered in Australia and Canada.
Steenson stepped down in 2007 as the Episcopal bishop of Rio Grande, in Albuquerque, N.M., after the Episcopal Church elected the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Steenson had said he was “deeply troubled” about the direction of the U.S. denomination and he described the Catholic Church as the “true home of Anglicanism.”
The Episcopal Church is the U.S. Anglican body in the United States.
Under the pope’s plan, Anglicans who become Catholic will be allowed to keep some of their heritage in liturgy and other areas. Married Anglican priests who convert can stay married and be ordained in the Catholic Church, an exception to the Vatican’s celibacy rule. Married Anglican bishops, however, cannot retain that position, and would serve as priests. More than 100 Anglican clergy have applied to become priests in the U.S. ordinariate.
Shooting at condo leaves four dead
CORONADO, Calif. – An early morning New Year’s shooting left four people dead at a condominium near San Diego, authorities said Sunday.
Police responded to a 911 cellphone call of shots fired in Coronado, a wealthy seaside suburb of about 24,000 people on San Diego Bay. Officers found a man in the doorway of the condo. The bodies of two men and a woman were discovered inside the condo.
San Diego County sheriff’s Lt. Larry Nesbit said homicide investigators have not determined how any of the four died.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service was on scene, “in case any of the victims were members of the military,” Nesbit said. NCIS spokesman Ed Buice said its investigators were participating in the probe, which was being led by the Sheriff’s Department.
The victims’ identities hadn’t been confirmed.
First civil union takes place in Delaware
More than 400 people, including a U.S. senator, witnessed the first same-sex civil union in Delaware on New Year’s Day.
Lawyers Lisa Goodman and Drewry Fennell were joined in the union by the Rev. Patricia Downing, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Wilmington, where the Sunday afternoon ceremony took place.
Goodman and Fennell have been partners for 14 years. Goodman is a lawyer who led the advocacy group Equality Delaware’s fight for the civil union law. Fennell heads the state Criminal Justice Council and formerly led the ACLU’s Delaware chapter.
U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., delivered the sermon and Lt. Gov. Matt Denns read Scripture.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed the law authorizing civil unions in May.