Some wise advice from Msgr. Steenson

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter newsletter is out and Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson has some wise words concerning the recent extraordinary synod on the family. 

The so-called “synod of the media,” the reporting of the first (extraordinary) session of the Synod on the Family in Rome, has induced some vertigo in us who have come from places where councils and conventions routinely thought they had the power to re-interpret the faith-once-given. I could not help but think of St. Gregory of Nazianzus’ famous observation, that seldom did any good come from a church council.
Synods and councils are, by their nature, messy things. Is truth discerned through the political process of a synod? The evidence is clear – seldom. We endure these gatherings to help us understand how the faith is being received in the Church and what is needed in order to be more faithful to Christ’s teaching. Truth is not discerned by a majority vote.
There are items on the agenda of this synod that are important for us. To give an example – a couple only discovers in their catechetical preparation that they have been living for many years in an irregular marriage, and now they find that the path to full communion is blocked. The local tribunal process seems overwhelming to them, and they simply give up.

Here is a situation where a generous pastoral response seems most appropriate. What form this might take is for the council fathers to study and the Holy Father to determine.
But it would help us. And as these people come into the Catholic Church, it would confirm them in their resolve to order their lives according to Catholic teaching.


And while you are reading the newsletter, please be sure to read the article by Fr. Michael Birch from our Victoria, B.C. parish about what it means to be a priest.  Wonderful story.

Ah, if the Ordinariates could be a bridge of reconciliation, unity and the recovery and expression  of what is truly great and supernatural in our Catholic faith.  Signs and wonders and miracles with beauty and lovely liturgy and loving community—let that be our witness.


We who have endured the tumult of Anglican synods and conventions have come to the Catholic Church because of the Petrine ministry. Catholics have confidence that the Holy Spirit is guiding the hand of the one whose hand is on the tiller of the ship. Keep calm and sail on!

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One Response to Some wise advice from Msgr. Steenson

  1. EPMS says:

    “We endure these gatherings to help us understand how the faith is being received in the Church”. Exactly. The image of the Barque of Peter sailing unswervingly towards harbour with the Pope at the tiller may be true in an eschatological sense but it hardly describes the day to day workings of the Church. Mrs Gyapong reported, a few years ago, on the beautiful and harmonious ACCC synod which voted nearly unanimously to accept the terms of AC and join the Catholic church. What percentage of the then-membership actually did so? When I read Fr Kenyon’s glowing account of the recent OCSP retreat, and how free it was of any sort of disagreement or faction compared to similar gatherings he had experienced as an Anglican, I could not help but wonder that if the attendees knew one another better–if they worked together or had attended seminary together and thus knew with whom it was safe to be frank— things might not have appeared so unified. Fortunately the question of climate change was not on the agenda. Perhaps it will be next time.

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