Pope names married US priest to lead ex-Anglicans

Pope Benedict XVI arrives to lead a mass at Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, 1 January 2012 The Ordinariate was set up to allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church, whilst keeping some traditions

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Pope Benedict XVI has appointed an American married priest to head the first US structure for Anglicans converting to Roman Catholicism.

The Reverend Jeffrey Steenson, a former Episcopalian Bishop, will head the Personal Ordinariate based in Texas, the Vatican announced.

The body was set up to allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church, whilst keeping some Anglican traditions.

The first Ordinariate was established in Britain last year.

The Personal Ordinariate was created by the Pope mainly for Anglicans who oppose the direction Anglicanism was taking, such as moves in some countries to allow the ordination of women and gay bishops.

It allows Anglicans to become Catholic in groups or as parishes, where previously, converts were accepted on a case-by-case basis.

Rev Steenson, a father of three, was an Episcopalian Bishop in New Mexico before stepping down in 2007 after the Church elected its first openly gay bishop.

Married Anglican priests who convert to Catholicism are exempted from the Catholic Church's celibacy rule, but cannot be bishops in the Catholic Church.

Other ordinariates are being considered in Australia and Canada.

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