The Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter has dismissed claims that clergy of the newly formed home for Anglicans in the Catholic Church are being bullied by its leader, Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, for using the traditional Latin mass – the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
On 29 July 2012 the Anglo-Catholic website posted a story stating Msgr. Steenson had discouraged his clergy from using the Latin mass, directing them to use only approved ordinariate and Catholic English-language liturgies.
Christian Campbell stated that he had it on “unimpeachable authority that there is on ongoing crackdown on those AU/Ordinariate priests who would dare to learn or celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite on the part of [Msgr.] Steenson” and other ordinariate leaders.
The “affected priests are naturally frightened, and unwilling to go on record, but make no mistake, the leadership of the U.S. Ordinariate at present has set itself against both Summorum Pontificum and Anglicanorum coetibus,” he stated, adding “I also have it on good authority that this intimidation, an abuse of power, is being reported directly to the Roman Authorities. And the contention that the traditional Latin Mass has no bearing on the Anglican Patrimony — this simply has me flabbergasted.”
Other traditionalist Catholic websites picked up the story, with many commentators berating Msgr. Steenson. By not allowing the traditional Latin mass the ordinary was forbidding the use of the liturgy that “shaped the Anglo-Catholic movement.”
“The Mass celebrated by [Blessed] John Henry Newmann is not apt for the Anglican converts of the Ordinariate,” was how one commentator characterized Msgr. Steenson’s actions.
But in a statement posted on the ordinariate’s website, Msgr. Steenson responded to his detractors saying those elements of the Anglican liturgical patrimony incorporated into the liturgical life of the ordinariate sought to balance “two historic principles — that Christian prayer and proclamation should be offered in the vernacular and that the language of worship should be sacral.”
The ordinariate’s “Book of Divine Worship Rite I” was its principle liturgical resource, while “those congregations that prefer a contemporary idiom, the Roman Missal 3rd edition could be used.”
Ordinariate clergy who “want to learn also how to celebrate” according to the traditional Latin mass were “certainly encouraged to do so” under the “supervision of the local bishop,” Msgr. Steenson said, so as to “assist in those stable communities that use the Extraordinary Form.”
However the traditional Latin Mass, (the Extraordinary Form) “is not integral to the Anglican patrimony, it is not properly used in our communities,” Msgr. Steenson wrote.
A spokesman for the ordinariate told Anglican Ink that over the past seven months, Msgr. Steenson “has undertaken the incredible task of building what is essentially a national diocese from the ground up, and with few resources.”
“Looking back, we can see all that has been accomplished, including a high quality application and formation program for clergy; ordinations of more than 20 priests in two countries in just six months - with more on the way; new communities being received into the Ordinariate regularly, with the next one in Boston this August; and policies, procedures and a structure being put in place to ensure the Ordinariate has a firm foundation for a healthy future.”
However, she noted that “bloggers always will speculate, but the focus of the Ordinariate continues to be on building up this new community of faith, with a healthy presbyterate and healthy local communities.”