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Installation Homily of Msgr Jeffrey Steenson

Installation Homily of Msgr Jeffrey Steenson

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Published by Rocco Palmo
Inaugural Homily of the Founding Ordinary of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter; Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Houston TX, 12 February 2012
Inaugural Homily of the Founding Ordinary of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter; Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Houston TX, 12 February 2012

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Published by: Rocco Palmo on Feb 13, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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“Behold how good and joyful a thing it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity!” 
(Ps.133:1). With all our hearts, let us thank PopeBenedict XVI for this beautiful gift, the PersonalOrdinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, and let uspray that it may further the goal of Catholicunity. When Cardinal Wuerl told me that theHoly Father would establish the Ordinariateunder this name, I truly rejoiced, for it goes tothe heart of what our mission should be. And ithelps us to understand why our Lord entrustedHis Church to St. Peter in the first place.So much ink has been spilled over theinterpretation of these words of our Gospel, which Jesus spoke to Peter in Caesarea Philippi– “You are Peter, and on this rock I will buildmy Church” (Mt. 16:18). Of course, forCatholics, the authoritative interpretation wasprovided at the First Vatican Council. But wemust honestly acknowledge that Christians haveread this text in different ways. Even amongstthe church fathers there was not unanimity over what “On this Rock” means precisely. The great Augustine himself said that the reader mustchoose – Does this Rock signify Christ or
Peter? (
. 1.20). But Augustine quiteproperly would not have thought this a matterof either/or. For Peter brings everything toChrist. The trajectory is clear. We are Christ’sand Christ is God’s (I Cor. 3:23). I am gratefulthat, over the course of my ministry, theteachings of Pope John Paul II and PopeBenedict XVI have been so clear on this point –the Church exists to bring souls to Christ. But,as our text plainly affirms, Jesus has investedPeter with a ministry of fundamentalimportance. And he does so by employing three verbs in the future tense – I will build my church … the gates of hell will not prevailagainst it … I will give you the keys of thekingdom of heaven. When Jesus speaks in thefuture tense, he draws all things to himself; weknow then that this commission does not end with the historical Peter. The whole life of theChurch on earth until the end of time isanticipated in this moment.In this context, listen to St. Anselm, the 37th Archbishop of Canterbury, perhaps the greatesttheologian ever to grace England’s green andpleasant land: “This power was committed
specially to Peter, that we might therefore beinvited to unity. Christ therefore appointed himthe head of the Apostles, that the Church mighthave one principal Vicar of Christ, to whom thedifferent members of the Church should haverecourse, if ever they should have dissentionsamong them. But if there were many heads inthe Church, the bond of unity would be broken”(
Cat. Aur 
. Mt. 16:19).The first time we find Matthew 16:18specifically applied to Peter’s successors, theBishops of Rome, came amidst a controversy  between Pope Stephen and Cyprian of Carthagein the middle of the third century. At the risk of sounding pedantic, I hope that you will permitme to speak briefly to this, because it is very relevant to the Ordinariate. In the Anglicantradition, the church fathers are held in highesteem; here is where we were taught to findour bearings on theological questions.The third century popes are heroes to me, because they were courageous pastors whosought to restore those brethren who had broken or fallen away to the full communion of 

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