Pope Francis names first bishop to lead Ordinariate based in Houston

December 8, 2015

HOUSTON — Pope Francis has named the Monsignor Steven J. Lopes to be the first bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter: a structure equivalent to a diocese for Roman Catholics who were nurtured in the Anglican tradition.The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was established by Pope Benedict on Jan. 1, 2012, with its headquarters located in Houston. Founded 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.

Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson, the leader of the Ordinariate since 2012, introduced Bishop-elect Lopes at a news conference Nov. 24 in Houston.
With this appointment, 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.

Bishop 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. 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 uses Prayer Book English — language derived from the classic books of the Anglican tradition — that is fully Catholic in expression and content.