18th May 2012
Update: The Power of the College of Bishops to Suspend a National Bishop from Fr Smuts’ blog. The plot truly thickens and I have to say I must have been wrong. I was trained in Roman canon law at university and much of this discipline is understanding principles of law and hermeneutic keys. I obviously walked into the TAC nearly seven years ago with very little knowledge of its proper laws.
All we can do is to wait and see whether Fr Buckton and Bishop Robarts join the Australian Ordinariate when Rome sets it up. Presumably we will hear of their receptions and candidacy for Holy Orders under the person who will be named as Ordinary. Alternatively we might learn of them leading an Australian member Church of the TAC and not joining the Ordinariate. I am not interested in speculation. Let time go by and we’ll see, but this is now of little interest to me as a European now that Archbishop Hepworth is no longer Primate and there is no longer a Patrimony of the Primate.
What more can I say?
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I had intended to leave this subject alone as when an article come up on David Virtue’s site about allegations of Archbishop Hepworth having been fiddling money. As for that accusation, I was reassured yesterday by a trustworthy person that the Archbishop’s church accounts had been audited and that everything was perfectly in order. Passons…
The story of the Archbishop’s suspension from the TAC, Archbishop John Hepworth Suspended from TAC College of Bishops has been published by David Virtue and reproduced without comment by Fr Smuts in South Africa.
I will just offer a couple of comments. Suspension in any Church is a canonical penalty, which is imposed for a canonical offence. I see no evidence of a trial and judgement. The TAC hierarchy is alleged to have said that Archbishop Hepworth had sought to enter the Roman Catholic Church through the Pope’s offer of an Ordinariate but had been rebuffed following allegations that he had been raped by three priests four decades ago, and that he was offered laicization by the Roman Catholic Church but rejected it. That might be a reason to consider the Archbishop as unfit for office, but that is not enough. The Archbishop voluntarily resigned his Primacy of the TAC, which resignation took effect on Easter Sunday (8th April 2012), but a question of suspension from his own church in Australia seems to be unfounded, in the absence of a formal judgement on the basis of one or more offences against ecclesiastical law. Mr Virtue uses the term ineligible, which would normally mean incapacity for being elected, hardly the appropriate term. The word would normally be inapt or another word to that effect.
Another irregularity would seem to be the Acting Primate in India and the Chancellor in South Africa exercising an act of jurisdiction over the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia. This is most uncharacteristic of the recent TAC College of Bishops meeting that toned down the role of the Primate in the TAC and eschewed any kind of “universal” jurisdiction in the manner of the Pope. I am sure that in time, Archbishop Prakash would give a canonically cogent explanation for this issue and express his position. Mr Virtue alleged that Archbishop Prakash made an announcement. Where? I haven’t seen it, not even on the TAC website.
It is also surprising that Fr Owen Buckton has been nominated to be in charge of a TAC entity whilst he is, by all accounts, fully committed to the future Australian Ordinariate soon to be established. Bishop David Robarts is also alleged to have been fully committed to the Ordinariate in spite of having participated in the College of Bishops meeting in South Africa. If this is true, he would have committed the same “offence” for which Archbishop Hepworth was being suspended.
The news about Bishop Moyer is old hat, though I am sure there is a second side to his story. In any case, Bishop Moyer has in writing expressed his acceptance of no longer being episcopal visitor for England. Postings about the TAC and the Ordinariates will remain extremely rare on this blog, and I will be especially vigilant about comments, but this one had to be answered, at least provisionally pending the availability of evidence.
I would prefer comments on this particular posting to contain more in the way of facts and evidence rather than opinions. Thank you for your understanding.
Loose Lips sink Ships
I kept all this to myself, but corresponded privately and confidentially with an English priest who had the same feelings, and he suggested this Saint Benedict Fellowship could be what I would term a kind of “palliative care unit” for former TAC clergy either in the “waiting room” or preparing for conversion to or reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church (the spiritual Green Mile?). It seems to be in line with the entire Romeward drive of the TAC over the past few years.
My own attitude was to keep an open mind, wait and see – but someone sent a copy of this letter, a revision of 11th June 2012, to David Virtue. It is now published as Confidential: Fellowship: Former TAC Archbishop Hepworth Seeks to Regroup, and those who send comments will certainly have a feast day. I find it deeply regrettable that this idea has been made public before it had time to mature and define its purpose more precisely.
My own concern was that its only justification was as a kind of metaphorical lifeboat for shipwrecked bishops and priests. It protests the way a significant portion of the TAC episcopate held a meeting in South Africa and took advantage of the resignation of Archbishop Hepworth announced for Easter 2012, now effective. Certainly, the Archbishop has in mind the way those bishops proceeded with his suspension from office as a TAC bishop in Australia, and further, wrote of its intention to take further action. I quote Archbishop Prakash’s recent ad clerum letter, which is a public document – “It is with deep regret that I have to inform you that further steps against Bishop Hepworth are being considered in the light of a document sent out by Bishop Hepworth openly advocating schism within the TAC“.
It would seem understandable that Archbishop Hepworth would reject a portion of the TAC that has rejected him. I am not going to enter the polemics, and I am tired of the “You’re either for us or against us” of blog enthusiasts. Having lived through all this over the past few years, I can only express being happy to live in a country that has emancipated itself from clericalism!
What is at the bottom of all this is a complete misunderstanding of the way Rome responds to requests for intercommunion or corporate union. In the case of Anglicanorum coetibus, it involves a total filtering of the clergy through a simple mechanism of receiving the men as laymen considered not to be validly ordained and then their being considered according to Ordinariate norms for ordination. Those in Roman Catholic orders would simply be offered reconciliation with their Church on condition of laicisation. There are no mitigating circumstances for leaving the Roman Catholic clerical state. Once you’re out, you’re out. The Anglican Communion will at its discretion accept Roman Catholic priests, as was the case with Archbishop Hepworth, and many years ago, Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew. There are hard cases, but all are equal in the eyes of Rome. As you see in Italian law courts – Le legge è uguale per tutti.
Archbishop Hepworth made allusions to sacrificing his episcopate for the interests of unity with Rome. He came public with his harrowing experience of sexual abuse at the hands of two or three Australian priests in the 1960′s and earlier. It didn’t wash, and the stories sickened most of us. We empathised with the Archbishop in his personal suffering but knew it would not save his priestly vocation. Rome does not deal with persons but with laws – they are applied every time.
I can understand the instinct of trying to form a group, as there are several priests and bishops in the “old” TAC who incurred canonical irregularities from having been Roman Catholic clerics. I am one of them (though I was originally an Anglican). Whilst I have not received any communication from Rome, some have, and the letters were negative, as for a priest in Canada who had been a Roman Catholic seminarian. It is painfully simple, we can be Roman Catholic laymen (or laicised pariahs), join another mainstream Church or found something new. The “something new” is what is usually termed a pseudo-church consisting of its founding clergy, themselves termed episcopi vagantes. We sometimes come across the oxymoron Vagante Churches.
If the justification of the Saint Benedict Fellowship is to continue as a priest or a bishop in spite of having failed to be accepted into the Ordinariate or wider Roman Catholic clergy, then the foundational purpose has no more credibility than any vagante group. Some vagante groups, however, are committed to extraordinary forms of pastoral ministry and are worthy of praise. The tree is judged by its fruits. But, if we read of men full of their self-importance as major primates, metropolitans, cardinals, or even popes in a few cases – and they just dress up and have fancy web sites, then I have other things to do in life! I am not remotely suggesting that Archbishop Hepworth fits into this category, but I doubt that a clear idea has yet emerged, whether it involves some form of contemplative life, educational apostolate or pastoral ministry.
The harrowing reality now faced by Archbishop Hepworth is that of a Zweifrontenkrieg, a war on two fronts. Rejection by Rome of his aspiration to return to the Catholic priesthood and rejection by a significant part or even a majority of his own college of bishops. Setting up anything resembling a new jurisdiction would only make things worse, whether it is called a communion, a church or a fellowship. Distinctions will not be made.
The Archbishop wisely says – We resist the temptation to form yet another church among the myriad and scandalous world of Continuing Anglicanism.
There is a seed of a foundational purpose in the words – in order to minister to and sustain each other and those Anglicans who share our desire for the full, global implementation of the Apostolic Constitution. Is this a kind of temporary clearing house in the hope that Rome will come up with dispensations from the rigour of the law and allow some “fallen” Catholic priests to be reactivated in spite of having married after ordination and joined another Church at some time? My big question now would be – What is left after the exodus to the ordinariates of many of our bishops, priests and laity and the formation of the significant part of the TAC that re-formed around Archbishop Prakash and Bishop Gill in South Africa?
One thing that has occurred to me, with my experience of Rome and being a product of the Institute of Christ the King’s seminary at Gricigliano – the Anglicanorum coetibus process was precisely designed to prevent irregulars from finding their way back in along with the thousands of laicised and non-laicised married ex-priests in the world. It must have been a headache for Rome, but the Pope is no spring chicken. As Prefect of the CDF, he had long experience of dealing with “ratlines” coming in from the cold of the former Soviet Bloc. Could it be that the ordinariate process is not Roman fiddling or fumbling, but a precise and clever plan for giving exactly what was asked for with generosity and pastoral care? But, for genuine cradle Anglicans who have never been Roman Catholics – no false-flag “ratlines”!
If you read the Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Bishops and Priests Ordained Secretly in the Czech Republic of February 2000, many things will become clear. I find it tragic that for some, there is no solution, and the drama is essentially the issue of clerical celibacy and the problem of priests who left their ministries and got married. Rome has gone a long way by granting case-by-case dispensations from celibacy – as long as marriage precedes ordination. Open the flood gates at this point, and you have all the other “inclusive” agendas following behind. So you keep the flood gates tightly closed and allow the occasional leak. The Roman Catholic Church is in a position of having to justify its clerical monarchy in the face of a world that would sweep both it and faith itself from the world. The problem for the Pope and Roman diplomacy is terrible and unenviable. That is the real issue.
The now publicised letter speaks of a meeting this coming autumn. I would hope that it can be kept quiet and private, and not be surrounded by a hubbub of screaming polemics. I could see a legitimate little fellowship for the purpose of education and contemplative life, and pastoral ministry where priests have a handful of lay faithful, engage in “niche” ministry or visit hospitals, etc. Will it happen like that?
Still, a lot can happen in only a few months. Only recently, I come across a contradiction in the case of Bishop Robarts in Australia who writes in support of the Ordinariate, yet who is claimed by Archbishop Prakash to be a bishop in the service of the TAC. Many things can only be verified by the crucible of passing time. I don’t want to make accusations, but there are still smoke and mirrors here and there, and face-saving…
I find it unjust to accuse Archbishop Hepworth of fomenting schism, as he simply seeks to gather the elements of the TAC who can neither join the ordinariates and be priests and who disagree with the Archbishop Prakash college of bishops in their decision to reject Anglicanorum coetibus and continue as a continuing Anglican church.
There are too many square pegs in round holes, and this project having been made public hardly helps matters. I have personally had to try to find my way in this morass, and find that I become increasingly alienated and detached. The ordinariate process continues, but I am not part of it. I am nominally under the Traditional Anglican Church in the UK – but I haven’t the foggiest idea of what is left of it. The website had been abandoned, and the priest who kept it has himself left the TTAC. I could be part of this Fellowship. But, to what end? There are still a few things to be waited out – the completion of the ordinariate process to see who will be on the beach after the 15th June, just three days from now. There is then the final Synod decision in England about women bishops which will define groups staying in the Church of England or leaving it to form alliances with the Polish National Catholic Church and the Union of Scranton. That option is up in the air. Becoming Orthodox has only been something extremely marginal and has become something of a stale joke except with a few American zealots.
Indeed, the dust has to settle, which it is doing. Lacking subjects for discussion, blogs and forums debate whether laymen should be using the Anglican Office as in the BDW or the Roman liturgy of the hours! It all floats in as I receive e-mails during my day of doing my translation work.
Well, something good will come out of this or it won’t. Time is the judge, and what happens will be plain for all to see. I live through an alternation of wrenched gut and hope in the future. And I make a few explorations of my own. We will see…
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An afterthought: Priests in this situation have several choices, as has always been the case. In some cases, a cleric can be welcomed in the Church of England, the American Episcopal Church or some other local body in the Anglican Communion. The best is to accept the status quo, get off the internet and avoid polemics. Another possibility is to walk the Green Mile and become a Roman Catholic layman, or simply cease to go to church (which in such a situation would be about the same thing). There is nothing dishonourable about a midlife crisis and a big change. It happens, and the Church represents only a small part of life.
Another possibility is simply to wander into the vagante world, go simple and underground, humble and invisible and live the Christian ideal and a contemplative dimension of priesthood. There is nothing wrong with that, but one ceases to call oneself “legitimate” and refrains from condemning others for what one is doing oneself.
Some time, I did some looking-up on Google using the combination of words “loss of vocation”. I came across a lot of pious crap, but one notion stayed in my mind to haunt me. Once a vocation – to anything – is gone, it is gone and it is pointless trying to pursue it. It belongs to the past. It cannot be recovered, at least not in this life. We have to go on, and there is always something positive in life if we open our eyes to see it. I think the war is over for Archbishop Hepworth. I heard he was doing up a boat, a replica of Jushua Slocum’s Spray. That must be an ambitious project, for an ocean-going vessel of over thirty feet in length. But I cannot dictate to him or know why he has allowed himself to be deluded by wishful thinking that the jackpot could be won by the next card or even the one after. I am realistic enough to know that the leadership qualities for leading an international Church body and getting it to its goal do not fall out of the sky. Two of the requisites for the Episcopate are emotional stability and sound judgement of reality. I doubt our former Primate ever had them, any more than I.
One final word, Fr Smuts in South Africa lost no time in picking this up and saying I was “clearly involved”, as if I were in some kind of plot against what has become known as the TAC. I have corresponded with the Archbishop with an open but reserved mind, believing that good can come from anywhere, and that he is fundamentally a good and generous soul who has now become a pariah and a scapegoat. I will not collaborate in the scapegoating, but I see the problems very clearly. If this Fellowship is not going to be a pseudo-church and will do something positive like contemplative life, teaching or pastoral / humanitarian work, then it should be supported. If it is a hare-brain idea to save vocations and nothing else, or get one’s own back against the “new” TAC, then there is no point to it. I keep an open mind, but I am sceptical.
We are all mortal and have to accept our fate. What right have we to bash in the nail until a man breaks? That is unchristian. For my own part I accept that I have to be under an ecclesiastical jurisdiction different from the one I was under – or consider giving up the priesthood and living according to Christian ideals in a different way. That reality seems to be inevitable, and I am far beyond loyalty.
Let’s just keep level heads and stop screaming, and see that not everything is entirely good or entirely evil. That is all I will say, unless there are some positive comments.
A little respite to the bitterness
In Fr Smuts’ blog, there is a balanced comment in the posting from yesterday that quotes my article from yesterday morning. I keep a watch on this article, especially in view of Fr Smuts’ comments made in bad faith and a malicious spirit. Before moving on, I can say that I have tried to be conciliatory with that South African priest and find him simply to be bad-mouthed. Only yesterday, he deleted comments from Deborah Gyapong complaining about the excessive treatment meted out to Archbishop Hepworth.
A comment from a person using the handle Mourad wrote a sympathetic comment:
All of this is very sad, but I think Father Anthony Chadwick’s post is the most significant.
First and foremost the TAC came into being becase a number of Anglican prelates and priests felt they could no longer continue in the long established jurisdictions of the Anglican Communion – for what to Catholic minds seem entirely understandable reasons. They form themselves into their own jurisdiction with all the trappings of a hierarchy and they decide to seek corporate reunion with the Catholic Church and as a symbol of that desire the bishops sign up to the Catechism of the Catholic Church at Portsmouth. So far so good. Approaches are made to the Holy See. Even better. But there are were number of problems in the approach which the TAC Prelates failed to recognise.
One of these was the inevitable approach of the Holy See to former Catholic clergy within the TAC. For some considerable time the Churches of the Anglican Communion have been only too happy to welcome into their ranks Catholic priests who (for example) wished to marry. The Catholic Church has two “normal” approaches to the issue of one of its priests who wishes to marry. The first approach is that the priest may seek laicisation. In that case, the priest is dispensed from his vow of celibacy and thus may marry – in the Catholic Church. But he must agree to live as a layman. He remains a priest, but he may not exercise priestly functions save in very rare circumstances (eg giving absolution to a dying person where no other priest is available). Where a priest simply leaves, since 1990, his bishop may apply to have him laicised after he has been AWOL for (I think) 5 years. Such priests may be brought back into full communion and re-admitted to the sacraments – but only as laymen.
As Father Chadwick points out the position is entirely different for married Anglican priests – the Church does grant dispensations for a married person to be ordained – as witness the significant number of pastoral provision, diocesan and ordinariate priests who have received such a dispensation.
The other problem with is married bishops. Even Elizabeth I did not think much of married bishops in the nascent CofE, as witness her rude remark to Matthew Parker’s wife. But both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church are quite firm – no married bishops. Thus the TAC vision of some kind of corporate reunion with its Primate becoming some kind of Patriarch of a sui generis separate church was a non starter.
So indeed, what has unfolded is a process whereby some parts of the TAC have accepted what was on offer and elected to be received and reunited under the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus. Bishops and priests are first received as lay persons, then ordained priests, a former bishop may be granted privileges such as the use of pontificalia and an ecclesiastical title and all the ecclesiastical authority of a bishop – but he will not be consecrated a bishop and therefore may not ordain priests. Thus far the OLW Ordinariate has, I think, 6 former bishops, Mgr Newton, Mgr Broadhurst, Mgr Burnham and Fathers Silk, Barnes and Mercer. The same pattern appears to be following in the USA and Canada and is likely to follow in Australia. One hope that similar provisions will soon be made for other parts of the Anglican Communion.
But yes, there are going to be some TAC bishops who, for whatever reason, will say “thanks, but no thanks” and thus it looks as if a rump of the TAC will remain in being, perhaps for some time.
I do have very great sympathy for those like Archbishop Hepworth and indeed Father Chadwick himself who acknowledges the difficulty:-
“I can understand the instinct of trying to form a group, as there are several priests and bishops in the “old” TAC who incurred canonical irregularities from having been Roman Catholic clerics. I am one of them. Whilst I have not received any communication from Rome, some have, and the letters were negative, as for a priest in Canada who had been a Roman Catholic seminarian. It is painfully simple, we can be Roman Catholic laymen (or laicised pariahs), join another mainstream Church or found something new.”
However, where I disagree with Father Chadwick is his assertion that there is no solution for former Catholic clergy in irregular situations other than to live as “laicised pariahs”. I think the present Holy Father has been quite remarkably inventive in his approaches both as Prefect of the CDF and as Holy Father. Take for example, the solution for the secretly ordained clergy in former Czechosolvakia. The married men were offered transfers into an exarchate where married priests were permitted.
I am quite sure that the Church would like to put an end to the scandal of former Catholic priests who have left the Church and are now in irregular situations. I suspect there would be mileage in forming some kind of sodality, perhaps beginning with its members living as lay Catholics but, for example, committing to the daily recitation of the Divine Office. With the right sort of approach, permission might thereafter be forthcoming to engaged in lay ministry, thereafter to celebrate Holy Mass in private or within the sodality and thereafter gradual reintegration into the ordinary life of the Church. Nobody says such a solution would be easy to accomplish – what is perhaps needed is to find a “friend at court” – perhaps a retired bishop or cardinal.
What is certainly true is that the process would have to begin on a confidential basis out of the glare of publicity and it would have to be gradual: submission, reconciliation, supervision, gradual restoration of faculties. In other words a process which would be asking a lot from those who chose to engage with it.
I recognise that Pope Benedict XVI, also in his old position before he was elected Pope, has tried to do his best to find solutions for some clergy in tight spots. Habitually, regularising the irregular takes years of appeals and canonical processes. Fine if you have the patience, stamina, endurance and above all – conviction. For many of us, the only thing is to move on.
For those who really believe that becoming Roman Catholics is their inevitable vocation, then the Sodality model seems to be good. The people involved go through a reconciliation process, cease to celebrate Mass or exercise any ministry and attend services in a parish or a monastery for a number of years. That might be the thing for the Australians to do, and for clerics in other countries – on condition of being young enough for the very long wait and having recourse to sympathetic clergy. There are ifs and buts. But, why not for some?
For the record, this would also be a possibility for “interfacing” with the Anglican Communion and working for reconciliation with one’s ecclesial origins. Of course, one must balance the issue of women priests and bishops against Roman legalism and the probability of being left in “purgatory” definitively. For each person to weigh up in his or her conscience without outside advice.
Another and very bitter person using the handle Shocked TAC’er :
“Thus the TAC vision of some kind of corporate reunion with its Primate becoming some kind of Patriarch of a sui generis separate church was a non starter.”
@ Mourad. You have hit this one on the nose: This was the biggest stumbling block for all of the trusting and gullible laity, priests and bishops in the TAC. Having the appropriate respect for the Office of Primate, no one dared question or contradict the emphatic statements made by our former emperor, who even alleged that he would have an office down the corridor from the Holy Father to be the Advisor on Anglican Affairs.
All very sad indeed.
The big problem is it is not all Archbishop Hepworth’s fault. We all collaborated by our uncritical inaction. From the beginning, Archbishop Hepworth’s claims and promises were too good to be true and based on a psychological distortion of reality constructing reality out of wishful thinking. I do not believe the Archbishop set out to deceive, but rather believed that reality would follow his desires and ideas. I am not a psychologist, so I will not attempt a diagnosis, but there was always something unhealthy. I saw this coming in the spring of 2010 as the first warnings started coming from Christian Campbell and the unending polemics caused by an “alliance” of anti-Papalists and Roman Catholic apologists.
There should have been a critical approach and “uprising” in October 2007, bishops saying “we won’t have any part of this until it is all clear”. One bishop said to me in Portsmouth – I only went along with this thing because this gives us credibility through being in dialogue with Rome, but Rome will never agree to granting corporate or uniate status to the TAC. I remember like yesterday. We were on the coach taking us from St Agatha’s church to the hotel.
Were we trusting and gullible – or opportunistic? Are we different from the clergy who stay in the Church of England despite women priests, and soon women bishops? Are we not all pragmatic sceptics who have sold our souls? If Archbishop Hepworth is guilty, we share in his guilt. We should have thought of all this before. I saw through Anglicanorum coetibus right away in November 2009. Of course there would be dispensations to make this possible! We were wrong.
Rome makes everyone laymen and then selects the men they want to ordain – that’s all.
The choices are clear. I would be very happy to see Archbishop Hepworth group together a few men with a clear purpose. He isn’t going to get an office in Rome or put in charge of Ordinariate liturgy. That whole business of the sexual abuse allegedly by a living Australian priest is not resolved. The Australian police has still to complete its investigation. A Fellowship of Saint Benedict – if it wants any credibility – would not be a schismatic church but something for contemplative life and praying the Office, as suggested by the choice of Patron Saint.
I received a private e-mail from an Australian priest. There is still parish life and ministry in the TAC in Australia. Some of them are going to the Ordinariate but not all. Those who are trashing the Archbishop (perhaps in the hope of making him commit suicide) show their lack of care for priests and communities who are neither ordinariate-bound or in the TAC as presided over by Archbishop Prakash. The pressure is immense and unchristian.
The endgame is now played out to its bitter end. All the same, I pray for Archbishop Hepworth and am grateful to him for having given me a fairly mainstream Episcopal oversight since August 2005. I now see what was wrong. I wasn’t always prepared to admit it. But I won’t have this man driven to suicide. No one is going to add one iota to his faith or hope of salvation by murdering a man for any reason. We are not judges, juries and executioners.
We are just poor souls trying to find our own way and help others when possible…
History – Comments on October 2007
I have this e-mail to the College of Bishops from Archbishop Hepworth dated from 10th December 2007. It is no longer confidential given the succession of events from then until now.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
The following message to the College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion and those on the Primate’s circulation list is confidential and not for publication until the Holy See releases its reply to our Letter concerning unity. The attachment is already in the public arena.
The Traditional Anglican Communion
Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters,
There has been further media interest in our letter. This is inevitable and understandable. In particular, there has been considerable discussion of remarks attributed to Cardinal Walter Kasper, who heads the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
I do not propose to canvas the report here, but attach it in case you have not seen it. Those with whom I am in touch among accredited journalists in Rome (three, at the moment) had already told me of the tension between some areas in the Vatican, and of the lines that were being taken by senior people. I am not unhappy that the TAC is the object of public discussion by Cardinals. At the very least, it gives us an idea that great issues are at stake.
Slightly more of our story emerges in this article, particularly the signing of the Catechism. If necessary, I will provide you with a statement for publication on the crucial matter of Anglican acceptance of the Councils of the undivided church (rather hesitantly in the Anglican Communion at the moment, I must say) together with the necessity for ecclesial authority to be contemporary – that is at once Christ-based and emerging from the reality of the Church that lives at this moment and speaks with authority to this world. There is no conflict in this, and our letter, I believe, makes our own position very clear.
I continue to commend you for observing the requested silence. The press release was drafted by those with whom we were meeting, for me to release.
I was more than happy to do so, and agreed with the wording.
I remind you that our meeting with the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) was a result of a letter to the Pope earlier in the year, informing him of our intention to meet in October, and of the possibility that we might agree to a petition for unity. It was the Holy Father who referred that letter to the CDF, and we were asked to report after our meeting, and warmly offered blessings on our meeting. In the end, our letter addresses major doctrinal issues that we are confident now form part of the fabric of our personal faith and teaching. Importantly, we have reported our position as a matter of conscience to the Holy See, and rather than seeking a particular structure by way of response, we have simply asked what we should do next, on the pathway to corporate, eucharistic communion.
We use the phrase “Anglican Catholics”, and in several other ways assert our desire to be treated as the ecclesial community that has grown in conformity with the norms given by the Holy See via Archbishop Dupre at our first visit to Rome as the TAC seventeen years ago. It is not the sort of letter that invites yes or no, but rather a deeper meeting of minds and hearts.
I remind you of this because the speculation has ranged rather far, and even we might become diverted from the reality.
I have written today on behalf of the College to Cardinal Lavada, the head of the CDF, clarifying and adding to what we have written, responding to some of the published remarks and providing some further documentation. I have assured him of our continual prayers for those from whom we have sought a response, and for the Holy Father himself. I know that you will seek these prayers from your clergy and people.
I have a number of private assurances that give me great hope that our requests have the most serious attention of the Holy See. Our disciplined silence and prayer is a factor in this.
One Cardinal with whom we have met in preparing for this stage in our communal life said to us that we would not find a single moment when unity “happens”. Rather, we would come to a realisation of the unity that actually exists between us, and find ways of giving structure to our unity.
I was recently given a chance to examine the proposed new English translation of the Holy Week and Sunday Eucharistic texts. The collects resonated with Cranmer’s rhythm, and the texts were saturated with the beauty of the English Missal. In this and countless little ways, all surprising, unity happens.
As soon as I am aware of something from Rome, I will be in touch.
I don’t try to draw any conclusions, but what I do remember from Portsmouth is an attitude among some of the clergy with whom I conversed which I resumed in a file on my hard disk, and did not publish anywhere at the time.
The important thing is to be flexible enough to keep the talks going and for Rome to be prepared to innovate in terms of canonical solutions. Even more important is the need for discretion and to wait patiently for Rome to come back to us. Frankly, if the process goes ahead, it will probably take ten to fifteen years. By that time, the present bishops and priests will be dead or very old men. Will Rome then phase in celibacy and a restrictive policy, or will this be an “honourable” way for Rome to phase out compulsory celibacy? Ultimately, the compulsory celibacy issue is the one problem that is killing priestly vocations, the continuation of parishes – and the corporate reunion of Churches with married clergy. We should not speculate too much, as Rome is aware that an endgame is being played out. It probably won’t be our problem.
In short, I did not believe that Rome would ever do what has been done. By November 2009, there was no going back.
Another document I have is a short article on Titus ONE Nine from the same era. I reproduce only the more significant comments.
TLC: Traditional Anglican Communion Petitions Rome for Union
Posted by Kendall Harmon
The College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) recently petitioned for “full, corporate, sacramental union” with the Roman Catholic Church recently.
The appeal for union was debated during a meeting of bishops in Portsmouth, England during the first week of October. It was delivered in a letter, which was signed by all the bishops present. The letter was delivered personally to the Holy See by the Most Rev. John Hepworth, Primate of TAC, and two other bishops selected by the college.
7. William Tighe wrote:
The TAC began to talk with the Ecumenical Secretariat in Rome (then headed by Cardinal Cassidy) in 1995. That cardinal displayed great bonhommie, but (as it appeared) an almost total lack of interest in any substantial conversations with “Anglican splinter groups” (and a hostility toward former Catholic priests who married and came to serve as priests in these groups being allowed any ministerial roles whatsoever in an “Anglican Catholic” body in communion with Rome). When Cardinal Kasper became head of the Ecumenical Secretariat in 2000 the TAC tried to restart the discussions, but its letters were not answered until Cardinal Arinze, as a result of a chance encounter with Abp. Falk during a visit to the USA in 2001, “lent a helping hand” and discussions got under weigh. However, it soon became obvious that the Ecumenical Secretariat was not willing to take concrete actions or make definite statements that might imperil the “warm and friendly relations” with the Anglican Communion that are so dear to Cardinal Kasper’s heart (although the cardinal’s address to the House of Bishops of the Church of England in June 2006 on the subject of WO and women bishops seem to show that a “disillusioned awareness” has begun to dawn on the good cardinal).
In the late Summer of 2003 (as near as I can determine) key figures in Rome became aware that the TAC was seeking not “discussions” or an “ecumenical dialogue” but “full, corporate, sacramental union.” As a result, responsibility on the Roman side for carrying out these talks was transferred from the Ecumenical Secretariat to the CDF (then headed by Cardinal Ratzinger) — but the late pope required the Ecumenical Secretariat to remain “informed and involved.” I have the impression that this “joint involvement” made for slow progress at best. I had the honor (together with Fr. Allan Hawkins, the parish priest of St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Use Church in Arlington, Texas) to be an invited guest at the ACA synod (at which Abp. Hepworth was also present) in Orlando, Florida, in February 2004, and so got a good impressions of the aspirations, achievements, perils and possibilities” incident to the dealings between the TAC and the Holy See.
Certainly, this formal statement from the TAC bishops comes at a key and (I hope) opportune time, as ever since November of last year proposals have been submitted, refined, resubmitted and discussed at the Vatican concerning the possible transformation of the “Pastoral Provision” and “Anglican Use” (presently available only in the USA and, as regards the former, only for clergy originally ordained in a church in communion with Canterbury) into a world-wide structure, perhaps along the lines of a “Personal Prelature” or “Apostolic Administration,” for Anglicans, and one in which men ordained in “extra mural” Anglican jurisdictions would be avail themselves. The Vatican does not seem to move quickly on these kind of matters, however, and I have no idea when a final version of these proposals are likely to see the light of day.
More recently, early in the current year, I learned that another Continuing Anglican body, the “Anglican Catholic Church,” was interested in having its own “dialogue” with Rome, and had approached the appropriate Roman officials, but I do not know whether there has been any response to these approaches.
Speaking for myself only, I rather doubt that “the TAC has any hopes of retaining its own hierarchy” — at least initially — if only because of the problematic backgrounds and marital circumstances of some of its bishops (and there is the matter of Anglican Orders, in the context of which there is the documentable participation of one of the bishops of the Polish National Catholic Church in the episcopal consecration of Albert R. Chambers [from whom the Continuing Anglican bodies derive their Orders] as Bishop of Springfield on October 1, 1962), but a the same time I both hope and suspect that the result would be something more than “a group of parishes and clergy seeking to join the Church under conditions similar to the Anglican Use.”
October 19, 6:07 pm
8. William Tighe wrote:
As long ago as 2003 all of the TAC bishops with “problematic marital pasts” submitted a full dossier to Rome on their personal circumstances, and that included in each case a statement that the bishop so concerned would be willing to “resign his Orders” if Rome deemed that to be necessary to forward the “reconciliation process.” I believe that, apart from +Hepworth there are three other TAC bishops (all Americans, one of them retired) who have been divorced-and-remarried. There are also two APCK bishops (Provence and Weygul) in the same circumstances, and, as the late Dr. Louis Tarsitano informed me around 2001, at that point every single one of the bishops of the APA had been divorced-and-remarried at least once—although since the 2002 union of most of the bishops of the “Anglican Rite Synod in the Americas” this is no longer the case. I do not think that the matter of the TAC bishops’ “personal circumstances” has yet been dealt with in the ongoing “reconciliation process.”
October 19, 6:08 pm
9. William Tighe wrote:
Surely you jest, or are thoroughly misinformed. Rome does not do “simple recognition of communion:” when you go to Rome you get “table d’hote” and not an “a la carte” selection. Take the case of the Polish National Catholic Church here in the USA (which began as a schism in the Polish-American Roman Catholic community in Scranton, PA in 1898): after nearly 25 years of dialogue beginning in 1968 between the PNCC and Rome both parties agreed that except on the issue of the papacy and the nature and extent of its authority there differences between them are disciplinary rather than doctrinal. Rome allows “sacramental hospitality” to PNCC members who find themselves in circumstances (for the most part of a geographical nature) in which they cannot confess or communicate in a PNCC church and will allow Roman Catholics on “special occasions” to receive communion in a PNCC church if they happen to have occasion to be present at a PNCC Mass —but “eucharistic hospitality” is not yet “intercommunion” and PNCC and RC clergy are not allowed to “concelebrate.” For the “relationship” to proceed to that stage there would have to be a complete agreement in matters of faith (i.e., regarding the papal ministry and its authority) and a worked-out structural/institutional relationship between the PNCC and Rome. Nothing less than this would be acceptable to bring the TAC into communion with Rome as well. In fact, when I was present at the ACA synod in Orlando in 2004 and there was an “open meeting” afterwards, Abps. Hepworth and Falk, responding to questions “from the floor” made this clear. To several questioners who asked “would this mean that we would have to accept the Catholic teaching on birth control” the reply was “the traditional Anglican teaching and the Catholic magisterial teaching are identical; Anglicans Communion bishops abandoned it at the 1930 Lambeth Conference, but we in the TAC hold to the prior position,” and to others who asked whether this meant that “we would have to accept papal infallibility” the answer was “we have made it clear to Rome that we reject none of the defined dogmatic teachings of the Magisterium; the question is how we would relate to papal authority in practice in an Anglican Catholic church in communion with Rome.” I was there, and with my own ears I heard it.
October 19, 6:26 pm
10. justinmartyr wrote:
William Tighe, thank you for the very enlightening set of posts.
Cynical old me wonders why, if TAC really believes Roman Dogma (e.g., Papal Infallibility) it doesn’t see a mandate to just submit to Rome? And if it doesn’t see Rome that way, what in the world is it trying to accomplish? It seems to me that both sides are acting not altogether honestly and transparently. TAC is willing to believe what it is told if it receives recognition. And Rome is willing to dull the sharp edges of its unchangeable doctrines if the pie is big enough (e.g., Orthodoxy). TAC, being relatively small fry, is unable to negotiate with the same clout.
Am I wrong?
Thanks again for the history lesson.
October 19, 6:41 pm
11. William Tighe wrote:
“Cynical old me wonders why, if TAC really believes Roman Dogma (e.g., Papal Infallibility) it doesn’t see a mandate to just submit to Rome? And if it doesn’t see Rome that way, what in the world is it trying to accomplish? It seems to me that both sides are acting not altogether honestly and transparently.”
Back in 1966, when Pope Paul VI had a long friendly meeting with Archbishop Ramsey of Canterbury (at the end of which the pope took his episcopal ring from his finger and gave it to the archbishop; a ring which I was able to kiss on Ramsey’s hand in 1985 and which Ramsey on his death in 1988 bequeathed to future archbishops as an “heirloom” of the see) he said at the end that when Rome and Canterbury are reconclled (like two estranged sisters) nothing of worth in “the respected Anglican patrimony” would be lost. From my own perspective, with WO and now SS and the now general doctrinal and moral levity of “first world” Anglican churches the “Anglican sister” has irremediably “played the harlot” and the “reconciliation” of which the pope and the archbishop spoke has receded to the realm of hopeless hopes. However, Catholics like myself regard the “respected patrimony” of Anglicanism as being continued today more robustly by the principal Continuing Anglican bodies (those that adhere unconditionally to the “Affirmation of St. Louis”) than by the Anglican Communion (which seems increasingly split between Liberal/Modernists and Evangelical/Protestants, neither of which groups would view the “Anglican patrimony” as Anglicans like Ramsey, Mascall, Dix at alios did and neither of which would share the concrete and particular aspirations of these men) and that by dealing tenderly with Continuing Anglican bodies Rome would be effectively offering to a small “remnant of Israel” the realization of the aspirations that moved Ramsey and Montini alike. Of course, “cynical old me” rather suspects that Paul VI identified “essential Anglicanism” with the High-Church-to-Anglo-Catholic side of Anglicanism and was unaware of the strength of Liberal latitudinarianism and Evangelical Protestantism in Anglican Churches, and so may have been excessively optimistic in any case about the likelihood of realizing in any concrete way the “vision” (“dream” or “mirage”) which he and Ramsey shared—just as were those Orthodox theologians and even churches that between the 1920s and 1950s seemed disposed to accept the “thesis” that Anglican Churches were “essentially Catholic” rather than “Protestant”—a pleasant reverie from which they awakened rather suddenly and even angrily in the 1970s. If you are able to peruse *The Panther and the Hind: A Theological History of Anglicanism* by Aidan Nichols, OP (Edinburgh, 1993: T & T Clark) you will see that Fr. Nichols ends his book precisely on such a “gathering in of the Remnant of Israel” line, and that the book itself is dedicated to the Anglo-Catholic theologian Eric Mascall (1905-1993), characterized in the dedication as “Ecclesiae Catholicae Doctor.”
“Am I wrong?”
I wouldn’t say you’re wrong if you want to look at the situation and circumstances in that way, but I would say as well that it’s nopt necessarily the only, or the best, way to look at it.
October 19, 7:17 pm
15. William Tighe wrote:“I listened to ++ Hepworth a couple of years ago at the internatinal synod in Portland, Me. This was all he talked about. No, this is not union with the RC’s. The Anglicans would remain an entirely separate body, but each could participate in the communion of the other, and priests could exchange churches.”
You are not the first person from whom I have heard this, and at the time I was sent from Maine a couple of newspaper clippings which reported much the same thing. On the other hand, I have personally witnessed and heard, or verified, or at least very strong reasons and sources for crediting, what I have related above. So I can reply only, “Draw your own conclusions.”
October 20, 8:20 am
16. Dale Rye wrote:
The bottom line is that the TAC and other Continuing Bodies (present or future) will be offered full communion with Rome on the same basis as the official Anglican Communion itself… full submission to Roman doctrine, including but not limited to the personal and immediate ordinary jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome over all other sees. They might be offered a special status, whether the current Anglican Use within the Roman Rite or a distinct Anglican Rite with its own prelates, but only after full submission.
Rome cannot recognize Anglican Orders within the continuing bodies without also acknowledging their validity within the Anglican Communion, which seems an unlikely move at this point. I don’t think the participation of a single PNCC bishop in 1962 is going to tip the balance towards the TAC, when so many other Anglican bishops have an Old Catholic somewhere back in their apostolic lineage.
Again, bottom line is that the TAC can come back to Rome when it submits to plenary Roman authority and acknowledges that any of its clergy who wish to function within an Anglican Rite or Use must submit to reordination, which will be granted on a case-by-case basis at Rome’s sole discretion. Since that is already the case for individual (official or continuing) Anglican clergy, I don’t see that the TAC petition changes anything.
October 20, 9:40 am
21. Navorser wrote:+Hepworth spoke at our church once and we had the greatest difficulty in deciding whether there was more prominence for him in opening new churches in Africa or worrying about our problems. +Hepworth just did not make it clear. His excursions into union with Catholicism reek of “I will lead you as I am the Primate but don’t bother to ask where I’m taking you!” This is a great pity as my family would like to have a church that is in a far more stable situation.
November 15, 9:00 am
30. William Tighe wrote:Re: #13, 29,
Well, this would seem to betoken a “theological schizophrenia” within the TEC/ACA that is almost as great as that between “reasserters” and “reappraisers” within TE”C,” wouldn’t it? Whatever else one may say about the bishops of the TAC/ACA, they all profess a strongly “Catholic” ecclesiology and think of Anglican churches as “Catholic” in the sense of Rome, Orthodoxy and pre-Reformation churches generally, and not in any substantial sense “Protestant.” Any “congregational system” of ecclesiology, by contrast, is about as purely Protestant a system as one can get (whether we are speaking of Congregationalism with a capital C, or the Church Order of those Lutheran churches which have “bishops” but whose bishops are simply local administrators and do not claim to have either the “apostolic succession” or the “apostolic authority” that Catholic bishops claim and exercise). If these folks want to be congregationalists, why don’t they join (or found) a “denomination” that reflects their beliefs, rather than remain part of one which has repudiated any such “congregationalism” ever since the St. Louis Conference of 1977 and the “Affirmation” that it produced.
November 27, 8:36 am
31. Navorser wrote:
Very good argument when it comes to a general discussion and my congratulations on presenting it. One small detail I would prefer to put at your disposal: whilst our congregation contains a number of very careful thinkers, the average age is far too high for us and our religious requirements are now refined into the one place. I wish that you had suggested moving to us about forty years ago. What we are left with in our older years is a sense of hope and par of the hope engendered in our congregation is that the leaders consider the fact that all of us were brought up to be Protestants and that the word Catholic has two very distinct meanings.
November 28, 1:45 am
32. William Tighe wrote:
Well, it’s a pity, Navorser, that (if I understand you correctly) your congregation or its members or some of them, seem to be in such a cul-de-sac, in which their own individual “religious identities” seem in such a disconnect with that of the larger body of which they are a part. But have you, or they, not heard of the “Affirmation of St. Louis”—or read it? It is the fundamental bedrock document of all the Continuing Anglican churches or jurisdictions, except for the APA, which seems to take parts of it “with its fingers crossed”—and if you (or those of whom you write) had read it carefully, you would see that it embraces a clearly and preseciptively “Catholic vision” of Anglicanism and its nature.
November 28, 12:19 pm
33. Navorser wrote:
William tight 32: Thank you for your comments. Yes the congregation has heard of the Affirmation you mention. It does not feel that it is in a state of ‘disconnect’ with the greater majority. Let me assure you that our people have read matters as carefully as do the others around the world. We strive to reach the future. Best wishes…….Navorser
November 28, 9:29 pm |
The TAC and Rome – conclusion
This whole thing is finally determined by what we believe in. My own conviction is that the reality of God and the Universe(s) is far greater than any institutional church or human understanding of theology.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
* * *
§2. Those who have been previously ordained in the Catholic Church and subsequently have become Anglicans, may not exercise sacred ministry in the Ordinariate. Anglican clergy who are in irregular marriage situations may not be accepted for Holy Orders in the Ordinariate.
* * *
I have rarely read a more lucid comment [that of Ed Pacht] in this whole odyssey of hopes, illusions and disappointments.
Rome had but one simple question, how to give pastoral consideration to the various requests from Anglican groups coming from both the Anglican Communion and the Continuum. Archbishop Hepworth. At the same time, they were concerned about those who are unsuitable for the Roman Catholic priesthood, being already clerics in major orders ordained in that Church. Archbishop Hepworth is a cradle Roman Catholic who left the Roman Catholic priestly ministry in harrowing circumstances.
There is not one single example of a former Roman Catholic cleric who left and joined another Church being allowed back into the exercise of his Orders. Then there is the problem of divorce and remarriage, even when there is a nullity. A stigma is attached to going into an invalid marriage. The laws are applied rigorously, and the limit has been an Englishman who was originally a Roman Catholic, left as an adult layman, became an Anglican in the Church of England and joined the Ordinariate. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest.
The logic is absolutely clear and coherent. The delays in founding the Ordinariates were caused by this problem. Admit canonical irregularities and there are no limits. There are about 150,000 laicised priests in the world because they left to get married. There is the pressure of making the RC Church go the same way as the American Episcopal Church and other parts of the Anglican Communion – ordaining women and practising homosexuals. So you nip the rot in the bud, and make sure every single priest is screened, vetted and approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
That is why the Ordinariates are available to all TAC clergy and faithful except for the divorced and remarried, cradle Roman Catholics and those who had received Roman Catholic Orders. Now, there are two reasons for continuing in the TAC: being a canonically irregular cleric or objecting to the Roman Catholic Church’s constitution or doctrine. I merely state a fact, from the point of view of someone who was ordained a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church and had to admit that he had been “badly converted”. My point of view is diametrically opposed to a self-serving one. I have no defence in regard to the judgement of the Roman Catholic Church. I made the wrong choices and I paid for them.
The problem with Archbishop Hepworth is that he persisted in his illusion – errare humanum est, persistere diabolicum est. Making a mistake is human, persisting in error is reprehensible (to say it more mildly than “diabolical”). At one time, I believed there was some kind of “special deal” going on with Cardinal Levada – but there never was one. When one trusts one’s superior and believes in obedience and loyalty to one’s Ordinary, it is not easy to choose the point at which one must break off and either find another bishop or refrain from exercising the priesthood. Most lay people cannot understand the spiritual and psychological hardship a priest suffers. It is perhaps like a woman having to abandon her alcoholic and violent husband.
Finally, knowing Archbishop Hepworth as I do, I cannot see him as evil. He has not made money out of this or gained power. He has been spiritually and psychologically murdered because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and his only way was to flee. The Church is merciful to the laity but not to the clergy. It is gut-wrenching to know that he has nowhere to go – except to sea (literally or metaphorically).
All the same, it was the Archbishop’s responsibility to know where the limits were. A man ruined at gambling may hope for the jackpot on dealing the next card – but it doesn’t happen. The only way is to pull out. That should have been from the beginning. Not all the blame is on the Archbishop’s side. Cardinal Levada should have been clearer. Perhaps he was and we were never informed. The Archbishop charged ahead like a kamikaze pilot crashing into an American ship during the war. It was all-or-nothing, everything or bust. The ship now lies in pieces on the rocks and the rescue lifeboats have been and gone.
The TAC bishops share the guilt for not having blown the whistle earlier. The Americans did, but their position was influenced by other matters that clouded issues, notably canonical irregularity. They failed to make themselves credible in time in the whole TAC. Issues were also clouded and muddied by some clerics of the Anglican Catholic Church (Original Province) hoping to profit from the roadkill. There were too many vested interests.
If the future is marked by a penitential and humble attitude for the errors committed by us all in one way or another, then there is hope. It is the only thing that can give a continuing TAC credibility.
There is then the issue of divorced and remarried clergy and those who have been Roman Catholic clergy. Most Churches (Anglican, Old Catholic, Orthodox, etc.) other than the RC Church will accept former Roman Catholic priests subject to a good background check. That solution is available to those who are not convinced Roman Catholics in terms of doctrine. That is the difference between Archbishop Hepworth and myself. I am an Anglican by origin and spent fifteen miserable years as a Roman Catholic under illusions and uncertainty. I have no reason to “go back for more”.
I think that just about wraps it up. It is hard on us who have suffered. Each man is called to find his own way with God and his conscience. We have only to respect each other’s consciences.