October 2011

Referring page



The Bishops’ College in Portsmouth

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There are some comments that you remember forever. On Wednesday, the 3rd of October, the Feast of Ste Therese of Lisieux, Bishop George Langberg, my counterpart in the Anglican Church in America said to me after Mass, “Well, I wasn’t at St Louis, but I was at St Agatha’s.” Having been at both I knew what he meant and shared his sentiment.

So let me unpack that comment for you.

1. ‘St Louis’ means the Congress of Concerned Churchmen that took place on Holy Cross Day, Sept 14th 1977, in St Louis Missouri. On that day the Affirmation of St Louis was read out to universal applause and delight. That Affirmation is now the heart of the Victoria Concordat that brought the Traditional Anglican Communion [TAC] into being, and is deeply imbedded in the Constitution of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada. [The pamphlet the Dean compiled called "We Believe" contains the doctrinal and moral heart of the Affirmation and may be found in the Church Porch].

The Congress of Concerned Churchman was the culmination of several years of work by various renewal organizations in the USA and Canada to find a way of continuing to be Anglicans outside the Anglican Church of Canada [ACC] and the Episcopal Church in the USA [TEC]. Not to put to fine a point upon it – we had been betrayed by their lawless Synods in matters of doctrine and morals. The chief error was the purported ordination of women to the priesthood, thus placing in jeopardy the validity of the sacraments the church intended to administer. The Holy Catholic Church has never ordained women as deacon, priest or bishop, and for a sacrament to be valid — in order to effect what it signifies — the priest must at least intend to do what the Church does. Those two Churches no longer intended to do that. And anyway – what authority did they have to make such a change to the Apostolic Ministry that was not theirs, but a gift of God? None!

Until the plan to hold the St Louis Congress was made public many of us had been trying to find another Church home. When the meeting was announced, we put all such plans on hold and went to the Congress as a last hope. It was a wonderful experience and set in train the Continuing Church movement. I aligned myself with the one Bishop-Elect, since we had no consecrated Bishops at that time. I resigned from the ACC and began this parish thirty years ago on the first Sunday in October. Present at Mass were Denys and Janet Byrne, Nell Bradshaw, my mother and me. We were very soon joined by Christine and Bobbie Crawley, and Carl Reid then working as a municipal engineer and now our Auxiliary Bishop in Ontario and Quebec. On Advent Sunday we obtained the use of Grace Lutheran Church on Fort Street and were there for ten years until we bought this building. Fr Crawley [later Bishop Crawley] joined us in a couple of years but he was a real co-operator and friend in getting us going.

Despite the many problems we faced as Continuers (and there are stories I could tell you of friends we lost, lies told about us, the heart-aches, the just plain nutty characters who plagued us), we have survived, but only just. It was probably the worst time in the 20th century to make such a move, and yet it was at just such a time that the ACC and TEC could get away with doing what they did – and what their abandonment of Catholic Faith and Morals has now spread round the globe and is presently ripping the Anglican Communion apart. And it will continue because no one is in charge – not the Archbishop of Canterbury, and not the Bishops of the Anglican Communion, because the Lambeth Conference of Bishops has no authority to enforce Catholic Faith and Morals, and it suspect it wouldn’t even if it could.

Our first Traditional Anglican Communion Primate, Archbishop Louis Falk, understood this, and was instrumental in giving us in the Victoria Concordat a worldwide College of Bishops with a Primate, which has the Magisterium – the Teaching Authority that Bishops have – so that we can keep track of one another, discipline those who may need it, and eject those who will not comply. The same applies to the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada – our Constitution states that your House of Bishops (+Botterill, +Crawley, +Mercer, +Reid, and I) has the teaching authority. We, in turn, are responsible to our brother Bishops and the Primate in the whole TAC College of Bishops for what we teach and how we behave.

2. Now while all this was going on something else was happening. The desire for Christian unity was beginning to stir in earnest. The Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church had given it a big boost – it even said nice things about Anglicans. After about 450 years of attempts of varying seriousness, Anglicans and Roman Catholics really began talking to one another after the joint decision by Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, expressed in a Common Declaration during their meeting in Rome at the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls in March 1966 — 41 years ago. Within a year the Commission they established had produced a report that proclaimed “penitence for the past, thankfulness for the graces of the present, urgency and resolve for a future in which our common aim would be the restoration of full organic unity.”

Eleven years later, in April 1977, just a few months before the Congress of St. Louis, Archbishop Ramsey’s successor in the See of Canterbury, Donald Coggan, and Pope Paul VI, made a further Common Declaration declaring their desire for “the restoration of complete communion in faith and sacramental life.”

Later in September of the same year, The Affirmation of St Louis, so deeply embedded in our ACCC Constitution and the Victoria Concordat, also declared “our intention to seek and achieve full sacramental communion and visible unity with other Christians who ‘worship the Trinity in Unity, and Unity in Trinity,’ and who hold the Catholic and Apostolic Faith in accordance with the foregoing principles.” This should not be news to anyone in the ACCC!

The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission [ARCIC] produced many reports but nothing really substantial, since as one member said the whole process was really came to be about Roman Catholics trying to help Catholic Anglicans and Evangelical Anglicans to understand one another! Be that as it may, while those talks were taking place, Anglicans began to ‘ordain’ women despite the protests of Pope Paul VI and then Pope John Paul II (1978 onwards) that such a move was hardly in the spirit of the discussions they were having, and could have disastrous effects on their quest for unity. Lutherans in their dialogue with Rome took the same course – talking a good line but doing exactly what they pleased. It was obvious that there was no real desire to advance unity, and many Anglicans and Lutherans began to trickle away and go to Orthodoxy or to Rome. Since then there has been a wave of refugees to Rome – many Lutheran theologians and bishops, and three Episcopal Church Bishops this year alone.

In the early 1990′s some of our men were invited by the Secretariat for Christian Unity in Rome to pay a visit and to tell them who we are and what we hope for. They gave us good advice, which we tried to follow. Rome also knew that the Affirmation declared “our intention to seek and achieve full sacramental communion and visible unity with other Christians… who hold the Catholic and Apostolic Faith ….”

Since then, every meeting of the College of Bishops of the TAC (and we have managed to meet every two years) has endorsed the principle of our seeking to be “an Anglican Church in communion with the Holy See”. Every National Synod has passed some form of resolution accepting the concept of “an Anglican Church in communion with the Holy See”, at least in principle.

Why are we doing this?

The TAC has simply determined to continue the process begun by Archbishop Ramsey and Pope Paul VI, since the impediment of uncatholic Faith and Morals does not exist within our Communion. And there is another reason. Having had our communion with the Anglican Communion shattered, we cannot remain “a church on the loose”. To hold the Catholic faith requires that faith be exercised in communion. Bishops cannot exist cut off from the mainstream of the Church’s life; they must be in communion with other Bishops. Unity is not an option. Jesus commanded it.

Enter St Agatha’s Church in Portsmouth, England, on the 3rd of October 2007. The TAC Bishops have gathered there from all over the world, they sing the Veni Creator Spiritus, and read the document that has been prepared. The Primate invites each of us including the Vicars-General of areas that don’t have Bishops to speak to the Resolution. We do; there is no disagreement; we vote – and the Bishops and Vicars-General unanimously agree on the text of a Letter to the See of Rome seeking full, corporate, and sacramental union. We sing Newman’s hymn “Firmly I believe and truly” followed by the Doxology (during which to my great surprise we spontaneously hold hands!) and the sun breaks through the windows of the church. It was all too much, and some tears are shed. Then we vest for Mass (a Votive for Christian Unity), during which we all solemnly sign the Letter on the altar, and entrust it to the Primate and two Bishops chosen by the College to present it to the Holy See – those fortunate two were Bishop Mercer and me.

On Tuesday the 9th of October the Primate, Bishop Mercer CR, and I attended a meeting in the Vatican at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Pope Benedict’s old office) to deliver our Letter by hand. We were warmly greeted, and when Pope Benedict has read the Letter something may begin to happen. At the end of the meeting I was privileged to lead us all in saying the Angelus as the bells of St Peter’s rang.

The main point I want to emphasize is that our October 2007 resolution is really no different from the Declaration of Archbishop Ramsey and Pope Paul VI in 1966 that our common aim would be the restoration of full organic unity.” Nor is it different from the Common Declaration of 1977 of Ramsey’s successor Archbishop Coggan and Pope Paul VI declaring their desire for “the restoration of complete communion in faith and sacramental life.” That has always been our goal.

I get asked two questions:

1. “What happens now?” We talk, but when, where and how discussions begin is not up to us. I suspect it will not be a quick process.

2, The other question everyone wants to know is, “Will we be absorbed by Rome?” In 1925, the RC monk Dom Lambert Beauduin coined the phrase ‘united but not absorbed’. Roman Catholics themselves (including a significant number of former Anglican clergy and laity) have urged us to value our Anglican heritage, which of course we do! One author has written movingly that the TAC seeks “to achieve communion (with the Holy See) while maintaining those revered traditions of spirituality, liturgy, discipline and theology that constitute the centuries old heritage of Anglican communities throughout the world”.

We seek to be “Anglican Catholics” in full communion with the See of Peter. That is, to value our Anglican heritage while being visibly united to the “whole Church Catholic” of which our Formularies have always spoken. There are over 20 Churches in full communion with the See of Peter, some of them smaller than the TAC. The Latin Rite (Roman Catholic Church) is only one of them, but it is the largest.

I think something will come of this – I think, and Rome too believes, that we are only the vanguard of a larger group of Canterbury Anglicans presently fleeing their former home as it goes up in flames.

That is why our College of Bishops’ meeting at St Agatha’s matches the importance of the Congress of St Louis, and why Bishop Langberg could say, ” I wasn’t at St Louis, but I was at St Agatha’s.” We couldn’t have had the one without the other, but maybe St Agatha’s will turn out to be the more important of the two.


The Timelines on the TAC’s approach to Rome and Archbishop Hepworth’s clerical sexual abuse claims

He told me that commentaries at that time seemed to support much more the idea of corporate reception–receiving corporate Anglican entities on the front end—rather than the individual conversion with a corporate entity created once everyone has filed into the Roman Catholic Church that seems now to be the official interpretation of Anglicanorum coetibus.

Sadly, he did not write down the results of his survey, or I would post them here.

What I would like to know is whether the fate of Archbishop John Hepworth’s clerical sexual abuse claims had anything to do with any change in the interpretation of Anglicanorum coetibus and in the access TAC representatives have had to CDF.

Have the hopes of various TAC churches around the globe, who had hoped for a corporate way of being received into the Catholic Church, been harmed by efforts to destroy Archbishop Hepworth’s credibility, to paint him as a “madman”?

I remember wondering when I first became aware of “the timelines don’t add up campaign” more than a year ago if I was seeing a victim of clerical sexual abuse being re-victimized by some in the Roman hierarchy. Was there a circling of the wagons to protect itself from scandal. Were we in the TAC who hoped to come into the Church collateral damage?

I have tried to create a timeline here, weaving together the dates for the TAC’s approach to Rome with Archbishop Hepworth’s efforts to get the Archdiocese of Adelaide to explain to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the reasons why he fled the Catholic priesthood.

Here is what I have pieced together so far. Anyone else have suggestions or thoughts?

BTW, for links to other stories that outline the extent of the horrific abuse Archbishop Hepworth suffered, Fr. Anthony has created a page of links here.

Prior to 2007

Dr. Bill Tighe:

Beginning around 1993 or 1994 Archbishop Falk, acting on behalf of the TAC, made overtures to Rome for contacts and discussions; these were directed to the PCPCU, which then had as its President, from December 1989 to March 2001, the Australian Edward, Cardinal Cassidy. It was the “second-in-command” at the PCPCU, its Secretary from April 1983 to March 1999, the Frenchman the late Bishop Pierre Duprey (d. 2007), however, who was the person principally responsible for conducting these discussions on the Catholic side. (Duprey was succeeded at his retirement as Secretary by the German bishop Walter Kasper, who two years later, upon the retirement of Cardinal Cassidy, was himself elevated to the cardinalate and became President of the PCPCU, serving in that position from March 2001 until his retirement in July 2010.)

Archbishop Falk’s letter to the PCPCU in 1994 was followed by a series of contacts and conversations. On May 6, 1994, Archbishop Falk together with Bishops Crawley and Clavier of the TAC, together the then Frs. John Hepworth, Louis Campese and Wellborn Hudson (all of whom subsequently became bishops in the TAC; Bishops Hudson and Crawley are now retired) met with Bishop Duprey for their initial meeting (online accounts dating this meeting to 1991 are mistaken). Cardinal Cassidy was not present at this meeting and, I have been informed, at any subsequent ones. In any case, my impressions, gleaned over the years form conversations with persons informed about these matters, is that these early conversations were pleasant but not particularly substantial. The PCPCU under both Cassidy and Kasper seems to have been disinclined, to put it mildly, to risk the friendly and agreeable relations that it forged with “Canterbury Communion Anglicans,” as well as groups such as main-line Lutheran World Federation member churches, by dealing substantively with bodies that it may have seen as “splinter groups” from these denominational families. (I mention the Lutherans because there is a story to be told about how in the mid-1990s, about the time of the millennium of Christianity in Norway in 1995, when Cardinal Cassidy was the Catholic Church‘s representative at its celebration in Norway, a group of “Catholic-minded” Church of Norway Lutherans, many of whom in 1999 left the State Church there and formed the “Nordic Catholic Church,” a body now in sacramental fellowship with the Polish National Catholic Church of the USA and Canada, were repeatedly spurned when they made approaches both to the Catholic Church in Norway and to the PCPCU to alert it to the triumph of forces favoring the acceptance of homosexual partnerships in that body and the ordination of persons living in such partnerships.) While these conversations never came to a formal end during Cardinal Cassidy’s tenure of his position a the PCPCU, they seem to have gone nowhere.

The conversations resumed after Cardinal Kasper took the helm, although only after a dramatic behind-the-scenes intervention on the part of Francis, Cardinal Arinze. In Holy Week of 2001, Arinze, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue from 1984 to 2002, and subsequently Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments until his retirement in 2008, was giving a retreat for a congregation of nuns in the vicinity of Tuscon, Arizona, and a local retired marine colonel, Jim Horn, one-time President of the House of Laity of the ACA, but by then a “revert” to the Catholicism of his youth, together with a local Catholic priest, Fr. Joseph Lombardo, arranged for the Archbishop Falk and the cardinal to meet. In fact, they spent much of Good Friday 2001 together, and after that meeting the cardinal wrote a report for the PCPCU in Rome strongly supportive of the TAC and its desire for talks with Rome aimed at reunion. However, two years passed without a response from the PCPCU, and in the end the cardinal intervened behind the scenes to overcome the reluctance of some staff members of that body to deal with the TAC, as well as to bring the matter to the late pope’s personal attention; there may have been an unanticipated early retirement or two at the PCPCU in connection with this affair. In that same year, 2003, the pope transferred the responsibility for conducting discussions with the TAC from the PCPCU to the CDF, then headed by Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger, but with the stipulation that the PCPCU be kept informed about the progress of the conversations.

Things then picked up speed. There were various meetings in Rome, usually involving Archbishop Hepworth and other TAC bishops, with, initially, Cardinal Law (then Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Anglican Use parishes in the United States) and, subsequently, clerics connected with the CDF: in October 2003, when Archbishop Rigali of Philadelphia was elevated to the cardinalate; in April 2005, just after the death of Pope John Paul II and before the election of his successor; and perhaps others unknown to me.

June 2007 Archbishop Hepworth makes first approach to Adelaide diocese with sexual abuse complaint:

A vote to agree on such a petition, which succeeded, was held within the TAC in October 2007. In response, the Pope met the petitioners more than halfway. In November 2009 he responded with his apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, providing for personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. Historically, it represents the most significant reunification since the Reformation.

As the time for voting within the TAC approached in 2007, Hepworth knew he had to confront the ghosts that had haunted him as he often walked for hour after hour at night when sleep was impossible, or broke down in tears in airport lounges and occasionally on the altar during important church services.

“I knew that I could no longer conceal my personal story and

still approach the Holy See with integrity.”

So at a meeting with Monsignor David Cappo in June 2007, also attended by TAC professional standards officer Lay Canon Cheryl Woodman, he set out his reasons for fleeing the Catholic Church in 1974, alleging he was raped by priests – John Stockdale and Ronald Pickering, now dead – while he was a seminarian. A third priest has vigorously denied allegations raised against him by Hepworth. Hepworth alleges that Stockdale abused him while he was a seminarian, that Pickering abused him when he was a seminarian and young priest, and that the third priest did so when he was 27 and had been ordained for several years.

After his initial meeting, Hepworth detailed the abuse in a six-page letter to Cappo dated March 25, 2008, the Christian feast of the Annunciation, and he followed up with several more detailed statements.

Tim Wallace:

Archbishop Hepworth’s allegations of byzantine delays by the Archdiocese of Adelaide in acting on his complaints of sexual abuse, first raised in 2007, against two priests now dead and one still alive and running an Adelaide parish, have ignited a media firestorm.

Contradictory versions of events proffered by Archbishop Hepworth and the Archdiocese of Adelaide have put on the line the credibility of a leading figure in the most significant rapprochement of Protestants with the Catholic Church since the Reformation and the presiding head of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

The issue that will vex the archdiocese is not why it took four years to begin a formal investigation but its alacrity since the complaint was formalised in February, given the back history and the complainant’s role in the reunion of Anglicans to the Catholic communion.

“An investigation has been on foot since 2007 … when Archbishop Hepworth first notified the Archdiocese of these matters,” the statement says.

“However, at the specific request of Archbishop Hepworth, the church took no steps to progress the matter until he decided he was ready to formalise his complaints (in February 2011).

“If there has been any delay, therefore, it is because Archbishop Hepworth specifically chose not to deal with the matter until then.”

The Archdiocese said the Archbishop, who revealed his plight to The Australian newspaper on Saturday, had consistently refused to inform police of the rape allegations.

“The Archdiocese of Adelaide is not critical of why it has taken so long for Archbishop Hepworth to make up his mind about these matters. However, it is wrong to suggest that any delay has been other than at the request of Archbishop Hepworth himself.”

Oct. 2007 The Portsmouth letter is formally signed, along with a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and a Compendium of the Catechism and subsequently delivered to Rome by Archbishop Hepworth, Bishop Peter Wilkinson of Canada, and retired Canadian Bishop Robert Mercer. The letter says:

The Bishops and Vicars-General of this Communion, now meeting in Plenary Session in the Church of Saint Agatha, Portsmouth, England, on the Feast of Theresa of the Child Jesus and in the days following, have reached the following mind which they have asked their Primate and delegates to report to the Holy See:

1. We accept the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter, which is a ministry of teaching and discerning the faith and a “perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity” and understand this ministry is essential to the Church founded by Jesus Christ. We accept that this ministry, in the words of the late John Paul II in Ut Unum Sint, is to “ensure the unity of all the Churches”. We understand his words in the same Letter when he explains to the separated churches that the Bishop of Rome “when circumstances require it, speaks in the name of all the Pastors in communion with him. He can also – under very specific conditions clearly laid down by the First Vatican Council – declare ex cathedra that a certain doctrine belongs to the deposit of faith. By thus bearing witness to the truth, he serves unity”. We understand that, as bishops separated from communion with the Bishop of Rome, we are among those for whom Jesus prayed before his death “that they may be completely one”, and that we teach and define matters of faith and morals in a way that is, while still under the influence of Divine Grace, of necessity more tenuously connected to the teaching voice of catholic bishops throughout the world.
2. We accept that the Church founded by Jesus Christ subsists most perfectly in the churches in communion with the See of Peter, to whom (after the repeated protestation of his love for Jesus) and to whose successors, our Divine Master gave the duty of feeding the lambs and the sheep of his flock.
3. We accept that the most complete and authentic expression and application of the catholic faith in this moment of time is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, which we have signed together with this Letter as attesting to the faith we aspire to teach and hold.
4. Driven by these realizations, which we must now in good conscience bring to the attention of the Holy See, we seek a communal and ecclesial way of being Anglican Catholics in communion with the Holy See, at once treasuring the full expression of catholic faith and treasuring our tradition within which we have come to this moment. We seek the guidance of the Holy See as to the fulfillment of these our desires and those of the churches in which we have been called to serve.

With profound expressions of regret for the divisions of Christ’s Church, and for our own failings that may have deepened and extended those divisions, and with the most affectionate regard for the Holy Father, who at key moments has strengthened us by his concern for our plight, and with great hope in the overshadowing power of the Holy Ghost, who can make pliable what has become rigid, we affix our signatures to this Letter and to the accompanying Catechism in the midst of the Holy Sacrifice and commend our cause to Your Excellencies,

Bill Tighe:

When the TAC Synod of Bishops, meeting in Portsmouth, England, from October 1 to 5, 2007, all signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Compendium of that catechism and a petition to Rome for the reunion of the TAC with the Catholic Church, and a delegation of three TAC bishops, Archbishop Hepworth and Bishops Mercer and Wilkinson, presented the petition to the CDF on October 9, 2007, one may argue that the process was set in motion that resulted in AC two years later. Cardinal Levada himself wrote warmly acknowledging the TAC bishops’ petition on July 5, 2008, and after the publication of AC he wrote again on December 16, 2009 to all the TAC bishops who had signed the petition confirming that AC was the response to it. “This provision,” the cardinal wrote, referring to Anglicanorum Coetibus, “constitutes the definitive response of the Holy See not only to your original request, but also to the many others of a similar nature which have been submitted over the last years” — phrasing which refutes the nonsensical arguments advanced by the three American ACA bishops who have decided to ignore, if not reject, the offer made in AC, despite two of these three bishops having signed the documents the TAC bishops carried to Rome after the Portsmouth Synod, that AC is not a specific response to their petition. (One of these three “refusenik” bishops signed the documents a the Portsmouth Synod, another a few weeks later at his Episcopal consecration.) Take note also of the phrase in the cardinal’s letter, “many others of a similar nature which have been submitted over the last years.” Finally, it may be worth mentioning in passing that low-key but high-level contacts seem to have been maintained between the TAC and the CDF over the two years between October 2007 and October 2009, and these may have had some influence on the shaping of particular provisions of AC.

Fr. Aidan Nichols on the significance of the TAC’s role:

In Canada, the Traditional Anglican Communion is the largest body seeking entry. Can you say anything about what role, if any, the TAC’s 2007 Portsmouth petition for unity play in the development of the Apostolic Constitution?

“3.The petition from the TAC must have contributed significantly to the eventual outcome. With all these signatories and specifying the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the
working rule of faith it could hardly be ignored! The idea of treating the Catechism as the benchmark seems to derive from precisely the TAC. But I think the appeal of the Church of England ‘flying bishops’ was in the end crucial in overcoming hesitations. I would speculate that the reason is twofold: the Roman Curia has had nearly fifty years of dealing with mainstream Anglicans, above all English ones (I’m taking Archbishop Fisher’s visit to John XXIII as the startng date), and considered it understood better ‘where they were coming from’; the fact that the Anglican bishops who sought the new arrangement were officials of an Established Church, appointed by a process involving both Church and State, inspired particular confidence in them as what one might call ‘public individuals’.
(This is purely my personal opinion as an outsider to the process.)”

March 2008 Hepworth gives detailed written account of abuse to Msgr. Cappo in Adelaide

After his initial meeting, Hepworth detailed the abuse in a six-page letter to Cappo dated March 25, 2008, the Christian feast of the Annunciation, and he followed up with several more detailed statements.

2008 November Hepworth makes written request that his sexual abuse case be taken to CDF:

Hepworth describes as “ludicrous” the chancery claim that he hadn’t formalised his complaint until this year. He’d understood that his letters and statements of 2008 were a formal complaint, as had the Melbourne archdiocese when sent copies and it acted on them promptly.

He also noted “On November 22, 2008, I requested in writing (formally? How can I know?) Archbishop Wilson to take my case for reconciliation with the Catholic Church to the Holy See.”

Hepworth has consistently maintained that resolving the question of his own canonical status with the archdiocese, as a victim who had good reason to abandon his priestly duties, was inextricably linked to his role as the TAC’s primate and chief negotiator with the Vatican. In one of his few replies, Wilson accepted as much when he wrote: “I will fulfil the request to report to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the substance of your discussions that you have been holding with Monsignor Cappo when I am in Rome in January 2009.”

However, as I reported last Saturday, there was a catch. Wilson declined to put anything to Rome in writing, saying he’d speak to CDF officials personally.

Jan 2009 Archbishop Wilson goes to Rome. What happens?

Early 2009 Archbishop Hepworth asks for results of Archbishop Wilson’s contact with CDF:

From Lay Canon Cheryl Woodman’s news release:

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”.

2009 October Cardinal Levada announces Apostolic Constitution at news conference with Archbishop Augustine Di Noia. Video of news conference no longer seems to be available online

2009 November The Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus is released

2010 February Cardinal Levada comes to Canada, gives talk in Kingston, Ontario

Archbishop Hepworth meets Cardinal Levada for the first time in Kingston.

2010 April Church of England Bishops and Bishop Peter Elliott, the Episcopal Delegate from Australia meet for a week of meetings at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. No one from the TAC is there. Nor is anyone from the TAC informed of key decisions made at this meeting. From the Telegraph:

Three bishops travelled to the Holy See last week to prepare for this outcome and discuss how Anglican clergy could be accommodated within the Catholic Church.

The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, and the Rt Rev Keith Newton, the bishops of Fulham, Ebbsfleet and Richborough respectively, held clandestine talks with senior members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the most powerful Vatican department.

An email sent by Bishop Burnham earlier this year reveals the delicate nature of their talks and the lengths to which they have gone to keep them quiet.

“I am taking the liberty of mentioning, in confidence and with his permission, that we are in touch with Mgr [Monsignor] Patrick Burke at the CDF [the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith],” he wrote.

“It has all felt a little bit like Elizabethan espionage but, truly, the informal contact with the CDF has been invaluable, and, if ever Mgr Burke got into trouble, I should write to the pope and say how splendidly helpful he has been.”

He continued: “This is not known about fully in England and Wales because we are trying to ensure that the whole Anglicanorum Coetibus project, which will begin in small ways, is not smothered by the management anxieties of a hierarchy, some of whom think that Anglicans are best off doing what they are presently doing and some of whom think the project would impact adversely on the Catholic Church in England…Hence the cloak and dagger.”

2010 May 21 Archbishop Hepworth, Bishop Wilkinson and Bishop Mercer have one hour meeting with Cardinal Levada followed by coffee hour. At this coffee hour, Christopher Pearson reports:

However, as I reported last Saturday, there was a catch. Wilson declined to put anything to Rome in writing, saying he’d speak to CDF officials personally. Corroboration has just come to hand enabling me to convey the tenor of that conversation. At a later meeting, while Hepworth and his predecessor as global primate of the TAC, Archbishop Louis Falk, were talking, the CDF’s Monsignor Patrick Burke approached them.

Hepworth recorded Burke’s remarks in a letter last year to Woodman. “In an aggressive tone, he complained about my contacts with the media and stated that Philip Wilson had been here recently and said you [i.e. Hepworth] were like a madman, a lunatic. He continued in this way for some time, as we walked downstairs.” Woodman, although present, was not part of that conversation, but she spoke with Burke a little later during morning tea. “He asked me outright if Archbishop Hepworth was mad and I assured him he was not.” On one view, all this to-ing and fro-ing can be seen as a storm in a teacup. But there is another way in which it can be read.

Pope Benedict’s first major speech after his election set out ecumenism as the first priority of his pontificate. In doing so, he wasn’t referring to Rome’s relations with the Baptists or the Assemblies of God but to groups with enough in common with Catholicism to make sacramental reunion possible: the Eastern Orthodox, the TAC and the conservative Lefebvrist Catholics who rejected some of the post-Vatican II changes in the late 1960s and 70s.

April 2010 Lay Canon Woodman goes to Cardinal Pell, who suggests Hepworth go to the independent commission he set up in Melbourne 15 years ago.

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.

Late spring and summer 2010 Father Anthony Chadwick and I become aware of a campaign to discredit the timelines of Archbishop Hepworth’s clerical sexual abuse claims.

“The timelines don’t add up,” we were told.

A Catholic priest in Australia tells me he has heard the exact same words “the timelines don’t add up” said to him by a Catholic prelate there, though one not from the Adelaide diocese.

August 2011 Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart issues formal, written apology to Hepworth for abuse he suffered and offers compensation. The timelines did add up.


Letter from Lay Canon Cheryl Woodman to the TAC Bishops

This letter, apparently from Lay Canon Cheryl Woodman has been reproduced in VOL under a misleading title which I will not quote here. Putting it simply, Archbishop Hepworth is not canvassing for support.

I am not yet certain whether this letter is authentic, but I do not doubt I will find out in the next few days.

* * *

October 7, 2011

Dear Bishops

I believe most of you are aware that our Primate suffered abuse when a young seminarian. The Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide was informed some 4 years ago, however the process that began as affirming of Archbishop Hepworth remains unresolved.

This is traumatic for the Archbishop and is not helpful to our own quest for unity. Therefore the Archbishop released a statement to the media two weeks ago. The last two weeks have been very difficult but we remain hopeful that a satisfactory outcome is achievable.

Of course, it is difficult to keep such matters contained and inevitably this has become global news. A few of our bishops are not of a mind, at this time, to proceed with unity and have written a letter to the Primate suggesting he should resign. A copy of this letter is enclosed for your information.

I have attached a statement of support for our Primate that I would like to release to the Press. A return email to myself or Bishop Harry Entwistle confirming your support will enable me to legitimately attach your names to this statement.

I would ask if you could reply as a matter of urgency as the American letter has been leaked (by ACCOP’s) around the world and a response from the TAC is urgent.

Cheryl Woodman
Lay Canon
Chairman Professional Standards Board
The Anglican Catholic Church in Australia


The Hepworth story is back in the news again

Read the story. Here’s an excerpt. I’ll comment at the end of the italics.

ANGLICAN Primate Phillip Aspinall has given personal support to the two Catholic Church leaders in the eye of the Hepworth sexual abuse affair, urging people not to rush to judgment over what happened to the future archbishop or the handling of the case

Dr Aspinall praised the Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, as “one of the church leaders in the country most educated” in dealing with sex abuse complaints, while archdiocese vicar-general David Cappo was “deeply understanding” of victims’ needs.

The Weekend Australian revealed that Dr Aspinall had commissioned a review into the policy he had developed in Brisbane to report all sexual abuse complaints against Anglican clergy and church staff to police, regardless of the complainant’s wishes or any time lapse.

Dr Aspinall emphasised that he could not comment on the Catholic hierarchy’s management of the complaint by Archbishop John Hepworth of the breakaway Traditional Anglican Communion that he suffered systematic sexual abuse for more than a decade at the hands of Catholic clergy in Adelaide and Melbourne, forcing him to flee the priesthood.

The Anglican Primate told The Australian he knew Archbishop Wilson and Monsignor Cappo and had great respect for both.

“You know, I think there are two sides to the story,” he said.

“And I recognise the restrictions on some of the people in authority in churches about being able to tell what they know.”

The unresolved response of the Catholic archdiocese in Adelaide has been contrasted unfavourably with that of Melbourne’s, which handles sex abuse claims differently to the rest of the church in Australia.

It dealt with Archbishop Hepworth’s complaint within a year, apologised, offered a financial settlement and acknowledged he had been sexually abused by late Catholic priest Ronald Pickering and in “many other instances” by clergy in South Australia.

Most interesting. Now who is this Aspinall chap and what does he stand for? Here’s some interesting material assembled on a blog:

At 44, Dr Aspinall is one of the youngest to be appointed Primate. He was consecrated Bishop in 1998 and was elected Archbishop of Brisbane three years ago. He will be a two-year caretaker as the Anglican Synod will review the job at its meeting in 2007. The review will be partly because at present the primate’s job is part-time and carries no real power. The primate’s role can be a leader and should be a symbol of unity. Dr Aspinall’s predecessor, Archbishop Peter Carnley of Perth, found this difficult because he could rarely bridge the gap between Sydney and the rest of the church. However, Dr Aspinall has shown himself to be a firm administrator in dealing with the sex-abuse scandals he inherited from hispredecessor in Brisbane, Dr Hollingworth.

Originally from Tasmania, Aspinall has degrees in science, education and business administration, as well as in theology. As a layman he worked for the Church in various capacities in the areas of youth ministry and education. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1989, was priest in charge of his own parish from 1991 to 1994 and then became the Tasmanian Director of Anglicare (the church’s welfare arm). In 1998 he became the Assistant Bishop of Adelaide.

In an interview with Sydney’s Southern Cross, shortly after he was elected to the Brisbane post, Archbishop Aspinall said that the number one issue for the Anglican Church in Australia is to communicate the gospel to people not involved in the life of the church. He went on to say that as Archbishop of Brisbane he hoped to develop an ‘inclusive church’ in which people of different theological perspectives are able to work together and contribute to the life of the Diocese. He told Southern Cross that as he had spent some time growing up in an evangelical parish he values the evangelical contribution to the life of the church, but hopes all groups will welcome one another. “I’m one who believes that the various theological perspectives in the life of the church all have a role to play . . . I hope that attitude of inclusivitiy will be shared by all who operate within the life of the Diocese.” [source]

Dr Aspinall supports the consecration of women as Bishops. He was also among the Bishops who in 1998 signed A Pastoral Statement to Lesbian and Gay Anglicans from Some Member Bishops of the Lambeth Conference.

The following was published in the Melbourne Herald Sunin August 2003 (it is undated on the website):

An Anglican leader has compared moves to allow gay clergy and same-sex marriages to major church rethinks such as opposition to slavery and the dropping of the flat-earth theory. Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane Dr Phillip Aspinall, writing in the latest edition of church newspaper Focus, said church members needed to reflect on a move in Canada to authorise a service to bless same-sex couples and the election of an openly gay bishop in the United States.

Dr Aspinall said the church needed to use reason and experience to interpret the Bible and tradition. He said the church initially forced Galileo to recant his views on early astronomy and for a large part of the past 2,000 years the church permitted slavery.

In the 1970s and 1980s the church changed its view on the question of whether divorced people should be allowed to remarry and in the 1990s women were allowed to be ordained as clergy. “This is not simply the church caving in to external pressures to conform to the sinful ways of the world,” Dr Aspinall said.

“We believe that in each of these situations the (Holy) Spirit has led the church more deeply into the truth, as Jesus promised would happen. I think we must admit the possibility, at least, that a similar process may be unfolding in relation to homosexuality.”

Dr Aspinall said although some sections of the Bible seemed to condemn gay sex, the church needed to recognise that “we do know now more than the biblical authors knew in their age about homosexuality”. That must be taken into account as must the experience of homosexual people who are committed to Christ and the church and who do not believe they are called to celibacy,” Dr Aspinall said.


Most interesting.


I wonder if the Holy Father knew about Archbishop Hepworth’s experience of abuse?

The fruits borne from the World Youth Day in Sydney, the pastoral work to repair “with honesty and openness” the “errors” committed in the past, by priests and clerics too, and the special “care” that needs to be taken during the celebration of the liturgy, were at the centre of the Pope’s speech to Australian Bishops, who were received in the Consistory hall on the occasion of their visit “ad limina” to Rome (the customary meeting between the Pope and prelates from a particular ecclesiastic region or Country which takes place every five years (Ed.)). Benedict XVI appreciated the fact that the World Youth Day in Sydney has had an “ongoing impact” on Australian society and that the event also gave a boost to religious vocations.

“It is true that your pastoral work is tougher that others also because of the sins and mistakes committed by certain priests and clerics, the Pope said, probably alluding also to the acts of sexual abuse committed by priests; but your task is to continue mending the errors of the past with honesty and openness, in order to humbly build a better future for everyone concerned.” “I encourage you therefore, he continued, to continue being shepherds of souls, and together with the clergy, be ready to approach love and truth for the sake of those who have trust in you.”

Meanwhile, the Australian bishops did raise concerns about the forced retirement of the former Toowoomba Bishop, according to CNA:

Over the past week the Australian bishops have held discussions regarding the situation in Toowoomba with both Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Archbishop Coleridge said the talks “went very positively” and “surpassed” their expectations.

“Some of the older hands among the bishops said they were the most substantial, serious and candid discussions they can remember in all their years of coming to ad limina visits,” he said.

The subsequent statement, which he hopes can be produced by the end of this week, will now “try to offer the fruits of those discussions” both in words and in “pastoral action” to be implemented upon the bishops’ return to Australia.

He said he did not want give too many details about what the statement will contain but he did confirm that the Vatican discussions focused on “the nature of the communion of the Church, and in particular, the communion that exists between the Pope and a diocesan bishop.”

In recent weeks, several lay Catholics in the Toowoomba have expressed surprise that Bishop Morris still seems to have a high profile in the diocese. His activities have included giving a public lecture, in-service talks to teachers and officiating at parish anniversaries.

“I hope that won’t continue,” said Cardinal George Pell of Sydney to CNA. “And if he is a loyal man of the Church he’ll realize that this is totally inappropriate and that won’t continue. That is my hope.”

As for priests in the Toowoomba diocese who are keen to continue dissenting, Cardinal Pell said he hopes “that Bishop Morris will remind them of their duties to get on with life and serve the people” when their next bishop is appointed. No timescale has been given for that appointment.

Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, President of the Australian Bishops’ Conference, said he didn’t want to “comment personally on Bishop Morris in terms of his future,” except to say that “he (Bishop Morris) is still a bishop of the Catholic Church.”

Archbishop Wilson said that they would now have to “dialogue about his future” and do so “in terms of love.”

Most interesting.