September 2011

Referring page



A Heart-rending Comment from a Priest’s Wife

Here is the comment, which was not sent to the blog because the person felt the message was too long. I don’t know who this person is – I assume the wife of a priest. I reproduce the comment impartially, but it is harrowing. Should she be put in the Gulag for daring to challenge the party line? I therefore give this person the right to free speech as is obviously her right.

May it be an examination of conscience for some, and an intention of prayer for others.

* * *

You asked for an elaboration on my comment. (Clergy wives understand.) I’m afraid my response would be too lengthy for a reply box, but this is what was in my mind when I commented.–

The last three years have played havoc with hope. Many have watched the disintegration of Anglicanism, not simply the mainline versions, but the disintegration of the orthodox opposition. There was a sense in February 2009 that the Vatican would respond with welcome to the Portsmouth gesture, there would be an announcement, and then nothing happened. Of course, it was happening, but with total discretion. The Internet became a misery, as the blogosphere went crazy with speculation and even crazier with venom. Clergy friends repudiated any desire for reunion with Rome, and became strangers. It was hard to lose those who had been companions for years. Then after the summer came and went, suddenly an announcement. Hope rose again. Reunion would be soon.

But the hatefulness in the blogosphere mounted. There seemed to be a concerted effort to turn the vestries and the congregations against the clergy leading them. A new anti-Catholicism appeared in the Anglican posts which mirrored, in ecclesial terms, all the vitriol of the secular media. Bishops and clergy who supported the notion of reunion were vilified in the worst imaginable ways. Vestrymen and congregants circulated truly vile e-mails, slandering their pastors with the most appalling lies. The sole purpose was to alienate congregations from their jurisdiction.

A new year. Faithful priests have had to resign their posts. They have been attacked by people they looked upon as their dearest friends. They have had to deal with the shock and hurt of betrayal. It has been like a death in a family. The priest retreats into a shell. He simply shuts down. No sermon to prepare, he carries a beaten look as he opens his Office. It is as though he is only going through the motions. The joy of sharing the gospel every Sunday is gone. Everything he has tried to achieve has fallen apart.

Or maybe the priest can bring a congregation. Small, ridiculously small, by any standard. Such a man faces marginalization. He cannot be taken very seriously; his church isn’t big enough.

Or maybe he comes with nothing but good will. No congregation, not a member of TAC. He’s left his cozy past, maybe has lost his job in the process. What’s wrong with him. He’s suspect.

Most of the TAC clergy are spread far and wide. They do not have the luxury of personal support from their fellow clergy. Basically they have been through everything on their own. The wives have been witness to what the men have endured.

Time passes and AC is announced. Hope soars. But very soon the curial apparatus begins to operate. What appeared wide-opened is now hedged about. The bureaucrats seem to be taking over. There is a sense that the local Catholic clergy are less than thrilled about AC. There are perfunctory contacts, but there is a real sense that Continuing Anglicans are about as welcome as measles. They are either heretic Protestants (and should have submitted long ago) or traitors to progress (and should get lost). Ecumenism is shown for what it really means, mainly, nothing. Basically, the faithful Anglican clergy have been abandoned by their Catholic counterparts. Then of course there is the tension of whether they will be able to function as priest once the Tiber is crossed. The stress of that is unremitting.

Thus, with the best of intentions on the part of both sides, AC has become a monumental trial. So, yes, when the clergy finally cross the finish line, they will be exhausted. There’s only so much a man can take. Nevertheless, their heroism is humbling. Yes, it is heroism. The liturgy says it all. “Pray brethren that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father Almighty.”

Remembering you and all the clergy in my prayers,

[name given but withheld here]


Archbishop Hepworth Vindicated

* * *

I got the heads-up from a multiple-addressee e-mail. The news is astounding. The Australian, a mainstream newspaper of that country, has published some very important articles:

Update – the story is in Zenit. It is also on Abuse Tracker, and is already 21 stories down. The Church is not irredeemable, but is called to a thorough reform of the Episcopate and the clergy. Credibility is a hard-earned virtue!

Here is traditionalist Rorate Caeli‘s weigh-in: Sodom in the Diocese.

* * *

Now, I quote a reader of Fr Zuhlsdorf’s blog:

Archbishop Hepworth is a brave, highly intelligent, and forgiving man. His comments years ago on the reality of the truth of the Catholic Church and the fact that Anglicans frequently backed away from overtures from Rome, and the fact of the failure of ARCIC, gave him a stature above other bishops in being able to verbalize the problems of entering fully into communion with Rome. I, for one, admire him greatly, and sincerely hope that the group, TAC, comes in under the Ordinariate. This would be a great relief not only to that group, who have anxiously been awaiting some type of reconciliation, but also to the liberal Anglicans, who really do not want the TAC around, reminding them of their roots. God bless the road to Rome for all involved. I am sure many others will follow his example. His bravery in revealing the sexual abuse in his past and what type of reconciliation he is seeking shows his heroic virtue.

This seems to be about the long and short of it. I am proud to serve as a priest under Archbishop Hepworth, whose suffering obviously gave him the ability to run a Church according to principles other than legalism and self-righteousness. If now the TAC is accepted by Rome and given a part in the Ordinariates, it will be the victory of the Gospel – the sinner (or in this case the victim of sin) being forgiven, the last coming first, the law being turned on its head by the primacy of merciful judgement and not merely the application of the letter of the law. Church law is guided by the principles of a forgiving and loving Church and this is why a seemingly inextricable situation can be resolved by the proper authority.

I believe this will happen.


They are not all Catholics at “The Australian”

We are familiar with the line: to get rid of clerical sex abuse, go liberal. Liberalism has not prevented scandals happening where they have happened. We simply find here a reflection of the media drumbeat against any kind of Catholicism that opposes the secular agenda. The problem goes beyond Catholicism to theological and doctrinal anomalies at the heart of Christianity. He is not entirely wrong, but simplistic explanations do not help. Heart of Christianity or heart of the contemporary crisis of the Churches?

The problem is not conservatism or liberalism but a lack of spiritual vision. There are many problems, but which have not been resolved by the current orientations of the Anglican Communion and some other Christian denominations. Secularised Christianity does not attract me any more than fundamentalism – or clericalism, but what does attract me is the witness of evangelical kindness and the spirituality / beauty of the liturgy. I suspect many others feel the same way.

Whatever may be his weaknesses – he is human as we all are, these are some of the things Archbishop Hepworth understands and represents, and not a far-right political vision or American-style neo-conservatism. As I know Archbishop Hepworth, he eschews political extremism and loves true democracy and moderation. If people knew him, they would find one of the few fatherly prelates one can come across in our day and age. His kindness is one that can only spring out of suffering, and his wisdom from long experience of life. The Church celebrates the Confessors of the Faith – there are some living ones too. Ecce sacerdos magnus

I have known for some time about the matters that have been reported, but as one of his loyal priests, I have always said to myself “It is none of my bloody business“. We in the best English tradition carry our crosses with dignity, and do not add to the weight of the crosses of others . We do our duty and we are kind to others. I have not yet sailed with him, but perhaps one day I will have the privilege of crewing on his boat. He needs our prayers, our respect and our trust. We need him to lead us home to the port of Rome!

Whether the light is extinguished or rekindled will depend on our prayers and solidarity.


Archbishop Hepworth – more “Australian” Coverage


Archbishop Hepworth’s charge to the Synod of the Anglican Catholic Church of Australia

The roots of theological destructiveness – and please remember that theology has been for centuries regarded as the queen of sciences – has had its roots in the Enlightenment and the resulting challenge to the reality of divine revelation in England and Germany 150 years ago. The denial of the divinity of Christ, the denial of the very fact of the Christ event, the denial of the power of the Holy Spirit in baptism, the denial of the Resurrection, the denial of a creating God at the heart of the cosmos, the denial of the great Pauline parallel between the husband and his wife and the Christ and his church, the denial of guilt and personal sin, the denial of God’s self revelation as Trinity, the denial of the necessity and reality of the cross and redemption, the denial of the divine institution and necessity of sacraments for salvation, and the ultimate denial of judgement and accountability in which this life is but a moment of preparation for an eternity that can only be glimpsed as in the mirror faintly – all this has been but a prelude to a cataclysmic failure of personal morality that manifests itself as a crisis of abuse and especially in the sexual abuse of the young and the vulnerable. The church is seen to be a church of violence in that most cruel area of violence in which the sanctity of sexuality within a stable and loving family is perverted into what Pope Benedict constantly calls the filth and perversion of a lust that has been quenched without regard to the lives that are destroyed in the quenching.

It is true that in most parts of the world a majority of abuse takes place within the family. This is an utterly damning fact of the extent to which we live in a society whose corruption is rapidly expanding and destroying that heart of human love and stability. But the abuse within the Church by those in positions of sacred trust, whether they be religious or clergy or laity in positions of trust and influence – is generally and rightly regarded as more corrosive of victims’ lives than that which occurs elsewhere. The innate contradiction between a priest who can sodomise teenagers and go from that to handling the Son of God himself at the altar is as vast as any contradiction we can encounter. Both Hitler and Stalin attempted to destroy the church by destroying its priesthood. Neither succeeded. Martyrs are the lifeblood of the church. But in the past 50 years the priesthood has begun to destroy itself. And let us be quite clear. The verbal abuse that destroys a person’s confidence in their own personality, the physical abuse of unreasonable punishments and sadism, and the sexual abuse that ranges from inappropriate touching to sodomy and rape protected by blackmail are simply different points on a pathway that has destroyed not thousands but tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives that the Church has touched – but not for the better – in our generation. Ireland admits that one in five of its population have been abused by someone within the church. Parts of Australia have a percentage almost as high.

The aftermath of abuse is destructive for the abusers. To hold the heights of depravity and the heights of sanctity within a single personality is utterly destructive. The church has an ultimate responsibility to everyone within it and to all people even to the ends of the earth. To minister to those whose ministry has turned to abuse is one of the most difficult and complex tasks that confront the church in our time. That we have people prepared to go into prisons and remand centres and sit for week after week and year after year slowly seeking to crack the tough shell with which these people try to protect themselves from themselves is an inspiration to us but more importantly places massive demands on the prayers and the sacrifices with which we support them.

And the aftermath of abuse is destructive for the victims. Victims experience the most powerful sense of shame and guilt, passionately believing that they provoked and invited the things that happened. They believe that their relationship with God is beyond redemption and their attitude to God turns often to anger and rejection. They struggle with minds that are dominated by images of their sexual experiences and often turn to drugs and drink to escape their own minds with which they cannot live. In over 40 years to priesthood, I have done too many funerals of young men whom I think now must have been victims because of the way in which they killed themselves. Because of their image of being un-clean victims will have problems with things that are sacred. Because their social development in key areas is often frozen they will fail consistently in relationships. And especially if they are men they will find it almost impossible to speak of what has happened. Often they may come to speak later in life and only because of some cataclysmic stimulus in which speaking suddenly becomes possible. And then there is the trauma of remembering and the trauma of trying to learn what parts of their life might have been a product of abuse and what parts might genuinely have been products of a sinful mind. There is in fact no known escape for the victims.

I know of these things now because a bishop is bound in today’s Church to learn what there is to know. He must ensure every way possible that the past is not repeated. And since only the church can heal what the church has done, it is the responsibility of the Bishop to ensure that his clergy and people will respond with healing when they encounter the one in five or 10 that our statistics still tell us are waiting, perhaps longing, for the chance to tell someone in the church the story of their own lives. A victim will often only try once to turn to the church for help, and everything hangs on the spiritual and professional skill of the one to whom they turn to, be it lay or be it clergy. Each of us has the responsibility to be prepared. Only the church can heal what the church has broken. And until the church learns to heal its victims, the church will itself remain broken and unhealed.


Australian Senator says he will name priest

INDEPENDENT senator Nick Xenophon has issued an ultimatum to the Catholic Church that unless it stands down the priest at the centre of clerical sexual abuse allegations today, he will name him in parliament.

Senator Xenophon, speaking in the Senate last night under the protection of parliamentary privilege, has also called for a government inquiry into the allegations of abuse made by Archbishop John Hepworth and questioned the appropriateness of the appointment of the Adelaide archdiocese’s vicar-general, David Cappo, as chairman of Julia Gillard’s Mental Health Commission.

“Tonight, I am calling for the federal government to make a serious, detailed and formal inquiry into allegations made by Archbishop John Hepworth, the primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, and how they may reflect on this planned appointment to the federal government taskforce,” Senator Xenophon told the Senate. “I believe the weakness of that response can be traced back in part to Monsignor Cappo, who for reasons not fully explained, has failed to act in a timely and decisive manner on this important issue.”

Archbishop Hepworth’s allegations of sexual abuse over 12 years from the age of 15 at the hands of two priests and one seminary student while he was a student and priest were revealed by The Weekend Australian.

Two of the alleged abusers are dead and the third runs a parish in South Australia.

Senator Xenophon said he had spoken to Archbishop Hepworth about the allegations yesterday and was concerned about the level of protection being offered to parishioners: “There are parents sending their children to church unaware that their priest . . . has been named as an abuser . . . a rapist,” Senator Xenophon told the Senate. “I will give the Catholic Church in South Australia until midday tomorrow to remove this priest from his post. If by midday tomorrow this hasn’t happened, I intend to name the priest in question here in the Senate.”



In proper terms, demonising is the portrayal of non-Christian deities as demons or evil spirits. The term is applied to humans by extension and by analogy. Typically, missionaries would not attempt to convince people that their “false gods” did not exist, but that they were worshipping evil spirits. Scare tactics.

Outside the strictly religious context, demonising is used to denigrate individuals or groups characterised by a common identity. For example, for Hitler and the Nazis, the Jews were to blame for everything. They were not merely an “inferior race” but also an enemy of the “good Aryans” struggling for their “quality of life”. Today, we tend to denigrate immigrants from Muslim countries (this is not to leave governments above criticism for unwise immigration policies) as is often in human nature to do down minorities and eccentric people in general.

Archbishop Hepworth has been the victim of such demonising by individuals running blogs for one of two reasons: to oppose his effort of bringing the TAC into union with Rome through accepting the body of Catholic doctrine and asking for a corporate solution, and on the other hand for extending every gesture of patience and kindness towards the three ACA bishops who have now entered an intercommunion agreement with the Anglican Province of America. He refused violent condemnations in the hope that dialogue would not be broken. The Archbishop’s pastoral attitude was lost on some Americans who showed a total lack of tolerance or compassion, or even human empathy. Some blogs have indeed a guilty conscience or at least should have.

The Archbishop’s attenuating circumstances in his life were exploited to “prove” his lack of fitness for office or indeed the least credibility as a bishop and pastor. “The timelines don’t match up” was said to be sure evidence that our Primate was a malicious charlatan and a liar. Several times last year, I was asked to telephone a certain blog moderator to be told that my Archbishop was rubbish and that I should “go fly fishing” for another superior, perhaps the ordinariate-bound clergy about to leave the Church of England. If I refused, it was because I was being led up the garden path and under the influence of someone so vile as to be beneath contempt. The same moderator persisted with his campaign of detraction at every possible opportunity, strangely colluding with the criticisms coming from a diametrically opposing viewpoint, that of anti-ordinariate “classical” Anglicans.

Now we find that the “timelines” did add up, and that we have done well to remain loyal to our Father in Christ. A tremendous amount of damage has been done by different persons to the Traditional Anglican Communion, as we have been hanging on for years, often going by “blind faith” and hoping in the seemingly hopeless. Already, other bloggers are rattling the sabre, telling us they will first observe the Sunday and then they will commit their sins of detraction and calumny *. Others write simpering and insincere comments of sympathy for Archbishop Hepworth, whom they would stab in the back given half a chance. Naturally, the combox is turned off.

Demonising is not Christian, but it is human. We all do it to some extent or another. We here in Europe had to begin to learn to stop demonising people, especially with the lessons learned since 1945. Anti-Semitism was deeply rooted in European culture for centuries, and particularly at the beginning of the twentieth century, and that led to the Holocaust. We are all guilty in one way or another, for everything is connected in our earthly existence. We do not have the right to demonise or scapegoat individuals or groups, even for moral reasons unconnected with race or creed. Those guilty of crimes are punished by the proper authorities according to the law, but they are not demonised beyond their actual guilt and lack of remorse for their misdeeds. Many find redemption whilst serving their sentences in prison.

I thank God that truth begins to emerge, and that our Archbishop is a truthful man and a conscientious pastor of souls. His Australian grit and determination can only command respect from us all, especially those of us who serve under his authority as priests. The situation seems to me to be precarious. The light can be extinguished or it can be rekindled and allowed its prophetic voice in the midst of the hubbub. I will now leave this subject, but I ask readers to learn empathy, compassion and justice in regard to those who have been wronged and have reacted as Christians. May we be edified and carried to the realms of grace, forgiven from our sins and transfigured into a new creation.

For some, empathy is a gift. For others, it has to be acquired. Peace depends on it. May God’s will be done…

* * *

* The man has now written his poisonous article thinking this will “kick down the door”. Now only time will tell as the whole matter is on the desk of the CDF, which has been following the affair all along. They know. Just a few months now, probably…


Abuser Named

Though this title says “Xenophon to name priest”, this is not an old article. The article reports that the abuser priest has been named.

Here is the article in The Australian: Nick Xenophon names alleged abuse priest. And this in the same paper: The right use of privilege.

See Deborah Gyapong’s article just below for Cardinal Pell’s statement.

See two stories from Adelaide Now (maybe less sympathetic to religion than the Australian articles):


Adelaide Archdiose implores senator not to name priest

The Archdiocese of Adelaide is imploring Independent senator Nick Xenophon not to name and shame a Catholic priest if the church does not stand him down today.

The priest is one of three accused of raping Adelaide-based Anglican Archbishop John Hepworth about 50 years ago.

Senator Xenophon threatened overnight to name the priest unless he is stood down by midday (CST) today.

The South Australian Senator also called for the newly-appointed head of a federal mental health body, Monsignor David Cappo, to be sacked for not acting in a timely manner on complaints lodged by Archbishop Hepworth in 2007.

“David Cappo and the Catholic Church should have acted years ago,” Senator Xenophon said.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Adelaide said today the Church was urging Senator Xenophon not to name the priest.

“The archdiocese is writing to Senator Xenophon as a matter of urgency, imploring him not to name the priest as he referred to last night,” she said.

“There are many complex and sensitive issues which the senator must be made aware of as a matter of urgency.”

She said the letter tells the senator the church is happy to send its legal advisers to brief him as soon as possible.

Archbishop Hepworth said he was “saddened” by the way the matter was being played out.

“It is being played out now in a crude way and megaphone diplomacy often doesn’t work, I know that from my politics,” he told ABC radio.


Archbishop Hepworth Urges Against Naming Abuse Priest

There is also a link to a radio broadcast:

It is very important to remember that Archbishop Hepworth opposes the naming of his abuser in the Australian Parliament, and that the abuser priest should be removed from office by the Archbishop of Adelaide. It should remain a Church matter. It all now seems to depend on the willingness of the Archdiocese of Adelaide to take action against the abusive priest who had got away with it for so long.It seems that there is no statute of limitations in Australian law for this kind of thing. If the Archdiocese of Adelaide refuses to cooperate, it “gets it in the neck” from the civil authorities, I suppose.

Stay tuned. I will put up links to updates as I find them on Google.

And do please excuse any duplication between Deborah Gyapong’s articles / links and mine. We often find things independently from different “ends” saying the same things but under different titles. Please bear with us.


Radio reports from ABC


Senator names priest—Cardinal Pell makes statement

Outside parliament, Cardinal George Pell called for the Adelaide archdiocese to deal with Archbishop Hepworth’s allegations “expeditiously, according to the church’s ‘Towards Healing’ protocol”.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Australia’s most senior Catholic churchman, said he was deeply sorry for Archbishop Hepworth’s suffering and was appalled at what he had experienced at the hands of Melbourne priest Ronald Pickering, whom the independent commissioner of the Melbourne archdiocese found had abused Archbishop Hepworth 50 years ago.

Archbishop Hepworth also alleges that, as a 15-year-old seminarian in Adelaide, he was raped by the late father John Stockdale.

Cardinal Pell last night urged the church in South Australia to act on the matter. “The public needs to be assured that the matter is being handled appropriately,” he told The Australian.

“Archbishop Hepworth’s position and status are not an issue in the treatment of his complaint. Complainants are always encouraged to go to the police. When someone who has been abused chooses to bring his complaint to the church rather than to the police, the integrity and implementation of the church’s protocols (Towards Healing in this case) are of first importance in achieving justice for the complainant, and indeed for all concerned.”

Cardinal Pell spoke out as Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson again refused to discuss the matter publicly or even issue a statement in his own name and Monsignor David Cappo refused to answer questions as he left his office.

Cardinal Pell said more information “seems to be needed to explain further to the public any unusual delays in acting on this complaint, and the decision not to stand aside the person who has been accused”.


The London “Daily Telegraph” picks up

Archbishop Hepworth, who is head of a breakaway Anglican group seeking reconciliation with the Vatican, had earlier called on Mr Xenophon not to name the man, saying he was “saddened” by the “very crude way” the issue was playing out.

My allegations were a greater story than just this one priest. This treatment of this priest is only one part of that story,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.


Archbishop Wilson’s Statement

Cardinal Pell spoke out as Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson again refused to discuss the matter publicly or even issue a statement in his own name and Monsignor David Cappo refused to answer questions as he left his office.

Cardinal Pell said more information “seems to be needed to explain further to the public any unusual delays in acting on this complaint, and the decision not to stand aside the person who has been accused”.

Has Archbishop Wilson given this information to Cardinal Pell’s satisfaction? I’m sure we will find out very soon.

* * *



I wish to begin my statement by reaffirming my longstanding commitment to dealing with allegations of abuse within the Church with the utmost seriousness and with proper process.

My years as a bishop of the Church have been marked by my determination to always deal with allegations of abuse with compassion, justice and fairness, being highly sensitive to the needs of victims and applying all the rules of natural justice for those accused.

I stand on my record as a bishop in the way I have responded to issues of abuse in the Church.

Regarding Archbishop Hepworth, let me say that from the moment he came to present his allegations of abuse to the Church he has been responded to with the utmost care and sensitivity.

Monsignor Cappo who acts on my behalf has met with Archbishop Hepworth on multiple occasions since 2007. In fact at least 8 meetings have been held, all of lengthy duration.

Monsignor Cappo gave me a full briefing of each meeting, immediately following his interviews with Archbishop Hepworth.

On my behalf Monsignor Cappo urged Archbishop Hepworth, at the end of each meeting, to give his permission to proceed with an investigation in the allegations. On each occasion Archbishop Hepworth declined, indicating that he was not in a proper emotional state to deal with an investigation.

Sensitive as we must be to the needs of complainants, we adhered to his request. He was also informed that if he was alleging any form of abuse, including rape, that this is a criminal allegation and he should go to the police.

He has consistently declined to do so but I add that we have not been critical of him about this. We understand only too well the difficulty associated with making these types of decisions.

It was not until we received a letter from him in late February 2011 that Archbishop Hepworth indicated that he was ready for a process to commence and he thereby gave permission for an investigation to proceed.

I then authorized an investigation to commence immediately and diocesan solicitors (who were already involved) have assisted in that process.

This process is well under way and we are currently waiting to speak with the priest accused, to obtain his detailed response to the allegations. He has already categorically denied the allegations.

To claim that the Archdiocese of Adelaide has not responded properly to this allegation or has delayed or mishandled this complaint by Archbishop Hepworth is totally wrong and I completely reject that assertion as without foundation.

On the contrary, we have shown Archbishop Hepworth every courtesy, sensitivity and care in the process. I am fully supportive of the manner in which Monsignor Cappo has given priority to this matter and the sensitive way in which he has dealt with it.

In fact, he would often talk to me about the need to initiate further contact with Archbishop Hepworth to ensure that a proper dialogue was occurring with him and he has shown great compassion for Archbishop Hepworth. Archbishop Hepworth himself has acknowledged as much on multiple occasions.

In terms of the process, I would expect that in the next 2-3 months all the interviewing of people would have taken place.

However, this is subject only to our being furnished with a list of other persons who we have asked Archbishop Hepworth to inform us might be in a position to assist with our investigations. To date we have not received such a list from him.

It is my intention to then have Mr Michael Abbott QC to become involved in the process and assess all the evidence and documentation and to give me his opinion in law, of the allegation and the response by the priest concerned.

The question has been asked as to why I have not stood the priest aside from his ministry during this investigation. My answer is very clear. Priests are normally stood aside from their ministry when accusations of child sexual abuse are made or where there is otherwise any risk posed by that priest’s continued ministry.

In such cases this decision is clear and made as a matter of course. In this case, however, we are not talking about child sexual abuse. Despite the unfortunate suggestions made to the contrary in the past few days, the allegations refer to when Archbishop Hepworth was in his 20s.

That is over forty years ago. And considering the presumption of innocence and the good standing of the priest under investigation, I would not stand a priest down in these circumstances.

I have obtained advice about this, and in trying to balance the interests of all parties concerned, having regard to how old the allegations are, I have concluded it is not necessary for the priest to be stood down.

I am deeply distressed that Senator Xenophon has named the priest in Parliament.

There was no need for him to do so, especially when this would appear not to have been Archbishop Hepworth’s wish. There have never been any suggestion of danger to people in the parish having the priest present, and the investigation is well underway.

The damage to the priest’s reputation is obvious and severe and – in my opinion – this serves to undermine the presumption of innocence which all of us are entitled to enjoy.

Aside from that the distress to the parish is enormous. What has happened is unfair and unjust.

I was shocked that the Senator was not even prepared to sit down and talk to our legal advisers about the matter when the invitation was extended to him. Aside from anything else, I think it is also important to remember that these matters cannot but have had a significant impact on Archbishop Hepworth himself.

However, my concern now is to ensure the investigation continues, that it remains transparent and independent and that it is brought to a speedy conclusion in a normal and appropriate way.

That is what occurred to date and I pray that the events of the past few days will not interfere with that process.

Archbishop Hepworth has also spoken to Monsignor Cappo at length about the Traditional Anglican Communion and possibilities for its future relationship with the Catholic Church.

I have been resolute in taking those issues to the appropriate authorities in Rome and those discussions are ongoing.

I am very mindful of Archbishop Hepworth’s desire to reconcile with the Catholic Church.

From my perspective, from Monsignor Cappo’s perspective and in accordance with our legal advice, we have given Archbishop Hepworth’s allegations priority.

I was very relieved when Archbishop Hepworth finally able to consider he was ready to agree to the process beginning in February of this year.

I again repeat, to accuse me and the Archdiocese of not handling this matter with priority and proper process is wrong and I reject such comments.

I conclude by saying that I would have preferred that there was no need for me to speak today about such personal and complex matters, but in the light of all of the mis-statement surrounding the issue, I considered fairness to those involved in the process required me to make these things clear.

Having said this, I trust it is now clear why I would not be in any position to make any further statement concerning the issue until the investigation is completed. Thank you.


More News from Australia

Senator Xenophon is a widely respected and popular politician who, while he may have been criticised as superficial for comical media stunts, has never been considered rash, indiscrete, unreliable or quick to judge.

Saving the best for last, I give you Breach of faith in The Australian.

Hepworth said he had spoken to police about the matter but pressing charges that would result in a long court case was never his priority. “I felt it would delay the resolution of my desire to be reconciled with the Catholic Church because nothing would happen until after the court case, which experience shows could take years.”


The accused priest’s statement


I find this statement quite odd. Why doesn’t it just stop with: “I categorically deny the allegations.”

You can watch him make the statement on video here.


The Hornet’s Nest

These are two completely distinct issues, and Archbishop Hepworth has absolutely nothing to do with the organisation in question wanting to destroy the Catholic Church and discredit Benedict XVI, who has proven to those in good faith that he is a good Pope.

It does seem to me to be an ideological war. Liberals are blaming the conservative “clerical” Church represented by Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Pell, Cardinal Burke, etc., and conservatives blame the laxity of the Paul VI pontificate, modernism / liberalism, and the fact that the scandal erupted in the time of John Paul II. Fingers are always pointed at “the other” and any institution is loath to reform itself through dismantling the structure and putting the blame on those who are truly guilty.

Abolish clerical celibacy and ordain women“, the liberals say. But there have been cases of sex abuse in the Episcopal Church where there are married priests, female priests and bishops and “normalised” homosexuality. This fact exposes the red herring for what it is. Clerical sex abuse, whether by priests or anyone else who does it, it not a matter of ideology but of incurable personality disorder. We have to get that very clear.

This whole thing is going to backfire on someone, but we must not lose sight of the real issue. Priests of all “ideological” positions have abused children and vulnerable people, and the rot has to be rooted out – and not covered up.

I hope intelligence will prevail, and that a distinction will be made between following through with Archbishop Hepworth’s action against those who have raped him at some point in the past, on one hand, and this crazed blanket attack against Pope Benedict XVI, who is one of the few who were doing something about the clerical paedophile scandal during the tenure of Pope John Paul II, on the other hand. Let us use reason, and make these vital distinctions.

Anyone read Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose? The book I mean, not the movie? The theme of the secret library and the covered-up crimes, and the whole abbey burning down at the end? I have a strange feeling of déjà vu.


The Named Priest is Denying Everything

The priest who has been named, but whose name I will not reproduce here, has responded to Senator Nick Xenophon’s allegations of rape made against him under parliamentary privilege. He denies the whole thing. “On legal advice, I can only make a short statement and I won’t be answering any questions,” the priest said. However, Senator Nick Xenophon said he had been swamped with calls, some from victims of abuse, after naming him.


What do these Events mean for Anglicanorum Coetibus?

I’m not going to add to this speculation, because I just don’t have the raw information, but there is a link from the blog of one of our readers:


Am I doing Wrong to Publish all this Stuff?

We have a lot of people asking why the Adelaide priest accused by Senator Xenophon could not have continued to benefit from secrecy whilst the whole thing went to a police investigation, however long that would take. Surely, a man is innocent until he is proven guilty, as some Australian journalists are saying? A huge injustice has been committed, they say, and until that priest is judged by a proper court of law, this whole thing amounts to trial by press – something highly immoral. Is this not tantamount to lynching?

Hang ‘em high! That was another good Clint Eastwood film – enjoyed it when it came out years ago. He did a great act as a man being hanged, feet twitching and tongue sticking out – really gruesome…

My purpose here, believing that my Archbishop has told the truth (and has been vindicated by the Archdiocese of Melbourne) is to make known what is being published about what is going on. The journalists are informed. I am not. They may have axes to grind, but I do not have better or more accurate information than what they are printing. I normally loathe journalism, but we have it to thank for making unscrupulous people accountable. At least they are professionals, where we bloggers are amateurs. I see my role as recording events for posterity and sometimes perceiving a synthesis from the point of view of one who is not a journalist but a Christian and a priest, and a priest under Archbishop Hepworth’s jurisdiction and loyal to him (unless one day that loyalty should seriously violate my conscience).

It is of no concern to me whether Archbishop Wilson’s priest is guilty of not. It is none of my business. That will be established by any ecclesiastical or public investigatory body that decides to do its job and give a proper report or judgement. If that priest is innocent, it would mean my Archbishop has told lies when making his complaint to the Archdiocese. That is very serious, as I am one of his priests. This would be a grave issue of conscience for me, so I can hardly be impartial. Don’t expect me to be, but I will do my best to be informed, and face such a moral dilemma square-on should I ever have to.

Put out the fire? That is something I can hardly do. I can do my best to avoid any provocation or fuelling the flames, which I think I am doing conscientiously. I will continue to send the links, with a minimum of personal analysis. Don’t expect me to link to anything from people with a liberal agenda, or those who want to “burn down” the Church or declare war against the Pope. I abhor the hideous sin of clerical sex abuse on children and vulnerable adults of either sex, but it is the fault of the actual guilty persons and the ecclesiastical authorities that protected them and allowed them to reoffend. I have no specialist insight into this problem beyond a little general reading on personality disorders and sexual perversions. I also have experience of clerical cliques and the kind of unhealthy spirit that can reign in ecclesiastical circles.

This whole thing is difficult. Guilt is determined by proper legal or canonical authorities and not by mob rule or lynching. I am aware of this, and it would be immoral of me to be complicit in such. It would also be immoral for me to be complicit in the kind of evil that can reign because good men did nothing. I have heard of command decisions in wartime having to be taken by rulers of countries, captains of ships and army commanders, when consciences had to be violated for the greater good. I thank God not to have that kind of responsibility. We live in a sinful and corrupt world. But, try to make it less sinful by force, and you make it more sinful!

In the end, nothing is ever as straight as in books of moral theology or the movies where the hero lives ever after and the baddie comes to a sticky end. This is not Saturday Night at the Movies. The situation in Australia is very serious, and I do not have the right to advocate sin or any kind of wrong, nor do I have the right to say nothing and allow evil to pass. I sometimes do have issues of conscience as a blogger, since words can do as much evil as bad deeds. I ask your prayers, but especially I ask your prayers for Archbishop Hepworth and all those people concerned in Australia.


Archbishop Hepworth on Radio

Our Archbishop is completely affirmed by the Archbishop of Melbourne, and a 50-page report says why the archdiocesan authorities believe him, and why they dealt with the issue properly and professionally.


Message to David E. Curtain QC from Lay Canon Cheryl Woodman

Mr David E Curtain QC
Compensation Panel
Henry Winneke Chambers
Level 22
535 Bourke Street

Dear Sir

Re: Compensation Panel – Archdiocese of Melbourne Panel Meeting: Archbishop John Hepworth 15 August 2011

I refer to your letter of 28 July 2011 addressed to Archbishop John Hepworth wherein you asked if he might want to place any further information before the Panel. He did advise you that I was absent until this week and I apologise that I could not reply until today.

The Panel will be aware of my involvement in this matter from the comprehensive report prepared by Dr. S.K. Brann (SB.04.03.11.HEP). This report sets out the diagnosis resultant from the abuse. I would also add that the abuse has had a profound affect on John Hepworth’s vocational priesthood, his spiritual wellbeing remains in crisis and currently his status with the Catholic Church is unresolved.

The sexual abuse by Clergy to victims, whether adult or underage, creates an extra tier of trauma. Some people’s image of the priest is as Christ’s representative and when that image is shattered the victim sees it as, “the betrayal of God” damaging their faith and spirituality (Park, 1996:1). From the time he was an innocent boy in the seminary, Archbishop Hepworth has been the victim of abuse, betrayal and threats. To this day, his reputation as priest and a man is the subject of malicious slander within the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Hepworth’s priesthood in the Catholic Church was sabotaged by the abuse. Finally, when his superiors denied him a voice, he fled in fear eventually finding refuge within the Anglican Church. However, he remained as faithful as possible to the Catholic Church, never denigrating the powerful institution that failed him, instead endeavouring to bring a global communion of Traditional Anglicans into corporate unity with the Holy See. But even this is not enough because what the Catholic Church will now see as canonical impediments could prevent this man from entering into unity, along with the rest of us. The outcome is the innocent victim continues to be punished which is detrimental to his healing, his spirituality and threatens his financial income. Indeed, the punishment does not end with John Hepworth but impacts on every member of the church that we hope and pray will soon be in unity with Rome.

Spiritual healing is “especially difficult for those who were abused by someone from their church” (Wood, 1993:234). At this time, the possibility of spiritual and psychological healing for Archbishop John Hepworth is uncertain. He continues to be traumatised as he lives in far of dying estranged and excommunicated from the Catholic Church as any possibility of reconciliation appears to be too damaged by relentless rumour from those associated with his perpetrators.

I would welcome the opportunity to speak briefly to this letter and also answer any questions the panel might want to ask.

Yours sincerely

Lay Canon Cheryl Woodman
Professional Standards Board

Park, F. (1996) Clergy Sexual Abuse, Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc.
Newsletter, July, 1996.

Wood, W. (1993) Chapter 8, The healing Process. In Triumph Over Darkness:
Understanding and healing the Trauma of Childhood SexualAbuse (Second edition).
Hilsboro: Beyond Words Pub. Co. Pp 226-257.


Monsignor Cappo Resigns

I don’t really understand the whole significance of this, but this prelate is in some way involved with Adelaide and the question in hand. If I have understood rightly, this fellow did his duty perfectly and he’s resigning for the fun of it! Help – I’m confused!

Also see Catholic priest Monsignor David Cappo resigns as chair of Mental Health Commission in Adelaide Now. The following quote is interesting, showing that Archbishop Hepworth is challenging Archbishop Wilson’s allegation that he himself slowed down the process.

He [Archbishop Wilson] said Monsignor Cappo had met Archbishop Hepworth at least eight times since 2007.

“On my behalf, Monsignor Cappo urged Archbishop Hepworth, at the end of each meeting, to give his permission to proceed with an investigation into the allegations,” he said.

“On each occasion Archbishop Hepworth declined, indicating that he was not in a proper emotional state to deal with an investigation.”

Archbishop Hepworth last night rejected this, telling The Advertiser he had given Monsignor Cappo the “green light from word go”.

“We were not looking to stop the process, we simply couldn’t find the process that Adelaide was running,” he said.

“When I asked David Cappo at the last meeting only a few weeks back what process they were running he said it was preliminary.”


Press Release from Lay Canon Cheryl Woodman



SEPTEMBER 15, 2011

I am the Chair of the Professional Standards Board of the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia. I am the person to whom Archbishop Hepworth first disclosed his abuse and it was on my recommendation that we met urgently with Monsignor David Cappo, Vicar-General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide.

I have been present at all meetings between Archbishop John Hepworth and Monsignor Cappo.

At the initial meetings Monsignor Cappo was sensitive and affirming of Archbishop Hepworth’s story. He advised the Archbishop that it was his right to contact the police but said that this could be a lengthy process with no clear outcome. Archbishop Hepworth indicated that he preferred to deal with the Archdiocese of Adelaide. Monsignor Cappo was sensitive that Archbishop Hepworth was in crisis following disclosure and was not ready to proceed with an investigation. He did request that the Archbishop provide detailed statements of his complaint. The Archbishop’s statements in early 2008 detailed the extensive nature of the abuse from aged 15 at the hands of three perpetrators and wrote of his desire to be reconciled to the Catholic Church. As Archbishop Hepworth moved towards being able to proceed with a formal complaint, Monsignor Cappo said that he would not be following Towards Healing, but that a special process would be devised appropriate to a person of Archbishop Hepworth’s status.

In November 2008 Archbishop Hepworth formally requested Archbishop Wilson to take his case to Rome. In early 2009 Archbishop Hepwoth requested details of the outcome and was told by Monsignor Cappo, “We don’t write letters like that”.

Monsignor Cappo clearly indicated he accepted Archbishop Hepworth’s allegations but not much could be done because two of the perpetrators were dead. He said that Dempsey was a different matter and a meeting could be arranged for Archbishop Hepworth to confront Dempsey. He said that of course Dempsey would deny the allegations but it would be extremely powerful for the Archbishop to confront him and state what he had done and the damage this had caused in the Archbishop’s life. I was alarmed and said this was high-risk and would rarely be recommended in any recognised therapeutic process. I was also concerned that Archbishop Hepworth’s claims of abuse, that began when he was a minor in the full time care of the Catholic church and continued until he fled in fear as a young priest, were being reduced to a single allegation against the third person in the sequence of abuse. This proposed confrontation was discussed in the presence of the Dominic Agresta, a solicitor for the Archdiocese, one of only two meetings with their solicitor present. At a later meeting Monsignor Cappo denied that he ever made this suggestion as it would be inappropriate and damaging to Archbishop Hepworth.

Monsignor Cappo reported to us that Demsey had been confronted with the allegations, and, as expected, had denied them but that he, Cappo, believed the Archbishop. It was becoming clear to us that there was no clear process. At no time were we notified of the nature of a proposed process even upon direct request. In the search for justice, I sought a meeting with Cardinal Pell that took place in April 2010. The immediate outcome was a referral to the process of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. The Melbourne Process was completed in August this year in a timely, professional, pastoral manner. The fifty-page report found that abuse occurred in South Australia and Victoria and named all three perpetrators. The Archbishop of Melbourne has written a letter of apology to Archbishop Hepworth.

When Monisgnor Cappo was offered a copy of the Melbourne Process report to read in our presence, the diocesan solicitor present warned us that should we make available a copy, it would be given to Dempsey. Archbishop Hepworth protested that the report contained intimate personal details and asked what process was running, Towards Healing or Canon Law. Monsignor Cappo replied, neither and that it was only a preliminary enquiry. He then closed the copy of the report and stated, “I am not going to read that”.

Neither I, as Chair of Professional Standards, nor Archbishop Hepworth, have been provided with details of any current process that the Archdiocese of Adelaide is using in this case. What had begun as caring and affirming had degenerated into a toxic procedure is re-traumatising the victim and seems to offer no hope of the Archbishop reconciling with the Catholic Church. This is the destruction of not only a man, but also a priest.

Lay Canon Cheryl Woodman


South Australian Attorney-General John Rau Weighs In