HOUSTON — Pope Francis has named the Rev. 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, Texas. 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.
Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson, the leader of the Ordinariate since 2012, will introduce Bishop-elect Lopes at a live news conference at 10:30 a.m. CST at the Chancery Offices of the Ordinariate, 7730 Westview, Houston, Texas. A telephone news conference for media will also be held at 12 p.m. CST.
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, 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.
Pope Benedict’s vision for Christian unity and the concrete ways that Pope Francis is implementing that vision demonstrate that unity in faith allows for a vibrant diversity in the expression of that faith. The Ordinariate is a key ecumenical venture for the Catholic Church and a concrete example of this unity in diversity.
ABOUT BISHOP-ELECT LOPES
Steven Joseph Lopes, 40, is a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. As the bishop-elect of the Ordinariate, he will reside in Houston, Texas.
Bishop-elect Lopes was born and raised in Fremont, Calif. The only child of Dr. José de Oliveira Lopes (deceased) and Barbara Jane Lopes, he attended Catholic schools in the Golden State, including the St. Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco. He earned licentiate and doctoral degrees in sacred theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
He was ordained a priest in June 2001 and spent the first several years of his priesthood as an associate pastor at two parishes: St. Patrick Catholic Church in San Francisco and St. Anselm Catholic Church in Ross, Calif.
Since 2005, he has served as an official of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office responsible for promoting and preserving Catholic teaching. He was named a monsignor in 2010.
His family includes his mother, Barbara Jane; his step-father, Abilio Dias; five step-brothers; and a step-sister.
Bishop-elect Lopes follows in the footsteps of Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson, who was named the first Ordinary (or head) of the Ordinariate when it was established in 2012. Msgr. Steenson’s retirement from his position as Ordinary is effective today, upon Pope Francis’ appointment of Bishop-elect Lopes. However, Msgr. Steenson has been appointed Administrator of the Ordinariate and will continue to oversee its day-to-day activities until Feb. 2, 2016.
Bishop-elect Lopes is the first bishop to be named for any of the three Personal Ordinariates in the world: Our Lady of Walsingham in the United Kingdom; the Chair of Saint Peter in the United States and Canada; and Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia.
The ordination of Bishop-elect Lopes is planned for Feb. 2, 2016 in Houston.