Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday named a married priest and former sportswriter who converted from Anglicanism to head the first organizational structure for U.S. converts to Roman Catholicism wanting to retain some of their Anglican heritage.

A Vatican announcement said that the Rev. Jeffrey Neil Steenson, a former rector at an Episcopal church in Texas, will lead the Personal Ordinariate, the equivalent of a diocese. The Vatican created the first such ordinariate in Britain last year.

Benedict in 2009 issued an unprecedented invitation for Anglicans to join the Catholic Church in groups or as parishes. Formerly, converts were accepted case by case.

Married Anglican priests who convert can stay married and become priests in the Roman Catholic Church, an exception to the Vatican’s celibacy rule.

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