Vatican unveils plans for Episcopalians

Published Jan. 2, 2012

Vatican unveils Episcopalian plan

Opening its doors more widely to disaffected Episcopalians, the Roman Catholic Church has established the equivalent of a nationwide diocese in the United States that former Episcopal priests and congregations can enter together as intact groups, the Vatican announced Sunday.

Converts who join the new entity will be full-fledged Catholics, expected to show allegiance to the pope and oppose contraception and abortion. But they will be allowed to preserve revered verses from the Book of Common Prayer. And, in what one Catholic leader called "an act of generosity," priests who are married will be exempted from the Catholic requirement of celibacy, though they may not become bishops.

The new grouping, called the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, will have its headquarters in Houston and be led by Jeffrey N. Steenson, a former Episcopal bishop and father of three who left the church in 2007 and became a Catholic priest in 2009, under an existing exemption for converting Anglicans.

With the title of ordinary, Steenson will be a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and will report directly to the Vatican, church officials said.


Israel: Palestinian and Israeli negotiators will meet for the first time in more than a year in Jordan on Tuesday in an effort to revive moribund peace talks, although none of the sides involved suggested any reason to view the meeting as a sign of significant progress.

Los Angeles: NASA said Sunday that its twin spacecraft are now circling the moon on a mission to measure lunar gravity. The latest probe slipped into orbit on New Year's Day, joining its twin, which arrived Saturday.

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New York: Dozens of Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested on New Year's Eve as they tore down barricades surrounding New York City's Zuccotti Park, the former home of their encampment that was dismantled several weeks ago.

South Korea: President Lee Myung Bak opened the door today to possible nuclear talks with North Korea and warned the neighboring country to avoid any provocations, saying the Korean peninsula is at a crucial turning point.

Iran: Iran said Sunday its scientists had produced the country's first nuclear fuel rod and its navy test-fired a new medium-range surface-to-air missile.

Times wires