November 2010

Referring page



Bishop Elliott on the process that lies ahead

The steps towards establishing Ordinariates in the United Kingdom, the US, Canada and Australia are well under way. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has recently approved programs of preparation for the laity and formation for the clergy who intend to be reconciled through the Ordinariate. Here the key resource is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Clergy will also need to familiarise themselves with the magisterial sources for systematic and moral theology and the Code of Canon Law. The “magisterium at your finger tips” may be found in an excellent series of paperback volumes, Precis of Official Catholic Teaching obtainable from the United States. These handy books take us into the living teaching voice of the Popes and Councils. I also recommend the new United States Catholic Catechism for Adults.

To establish the Ordinariates, two stages are envisaged next year: 1. the reconciliation and ordination of clergy who have applied for Orders in the Ordinariate and been accepted, then 2. at a later date, the first reconciliations of the lay faithful. The clergy will therefore be in place to welcome and minister to former Anglicans in a community that maintains the familiar Anglican patrimony of worship, spirituality, scholarship and pastoral care. We saw how that patrimony has enriched English Catholicism during the magnificent papal visit to Scotland and England, particularly during the beatification of Blessed John Henry Newman.

More concrete details will appear soon. I believe the model will be set by what proceeds in the United Kingdom in terms of a clear time line built around the two stages. However, at present it is important to keep informed, for example through circles such as the Friends of the Ordinariate.

What to do now? Those who believe that God is calling them to full communion should take practical steps, obtaining evidence for their Baptism which will be needed before registering for reconciliation through Confirmation with Chrism next year. Those who are in irregular marriage situations need to go at once to the local Catholic Marriage Tribunal and seek whatever is possible to regularise their situation. These tribunals are pastoral, welcoming and maintain respect for confidentiality.

Above all pray. We are now entering the Vigil of the Ordinariate. In a spirit of “watching and praying”, In invite you keep vigil by reflecting on the wonderful mystery of the Church, the organic working Body of Jesus Christ. But let that visible reality of the living Church confront you. Let her challenge you, as you ask, “With whom are we in communion?” If that remains a painful or perplexing question, bring it before the Lord. Then may the Holy Spirit of unity and communion guide you and lead you to inner peace.


The Perennity of the Traditional Anglican Communion

We should be of good cheer, because we read in a Pastoral Letter (including the text of the Portsmouth Petition of October 2007) by Archbishop Hepworth:

The Traditional Anglican Communion will not disappear, but will endure for the same purpose that it was created to fulfil, and which is so clearly described in the text of our petition.

The petition shows that the TAC was created:

At St. Louis, just thirty years ago at this time, Anglican Catholics tormented in conscience as much by the disintegration of sacramental life in parish and diocese as by the slipping beyond reach of such recent expectations of unity, met and adopted the Affirmation. This was a confession of catholic faith, a determination to maintain the pursuit of unity, and a commitment to create an ecclesial structure sufficient to achieve these desires, while maintaining communion with those churches of the Anglican Communion that remained true to the commitments of only a few years before. It was explicit about unity:

We declare our firm 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.

There can be nothing clearer than this statement:

Since 1990, this Communion has sought to form its clergy and people in such a way that the College of Bishops could reach a decision to seek the further guidance of the Holy See in the fulfilment of its desire to come as an ecclesial community into communion with the See of Peter, with confidence that they have the support of their clergy and people.

We patiently await this guidance. What seems to be happening is that those leaving the Church of England and other parts of the Anglican Communion are aligning themselves with Anglicanorum coetibus and the local delegates appointed by the CDF to liaise with them. It would seem that parish-sized groups are being encouraged to accept the guidance of the various delegates and await a secretly organised direction. In particular, we are concerned about the possibility of the whole Ordinariate project being centred on England and clergy presently leaving the Church of England, and who have for many years turned away from their specifically Anglican culture and patrimony. The reality of the TAC is global, and above all in the missionary territories and the former British Empire colonies.

I believe in loyalty, and as far as I know, the TAC College of Bishops and its Primate, Archbishop John Hepworth, are still intact and waiting for the fulfilment of its desire to come as an ecclesial community into communion with the See of Peter, with confidence that they have the support of their clergy and people. Some clergy and people have not given their support, but most of us loyal clergy and faithful have continued to support our Bishops and pray for them, that God inspire them with courage and strength – not to submit to some anonymous and secret plan cooked up by big players, but to come into communion peacefully with the See of Peter and the Universal Church in the light of day.

Whatever happens now, and it is not our place to speculate, we should not flinch and either to bow to the “secret ordinariate” on one hand in a hand-wringing resigned fideist attitude, or, or the other hand, say “never” on the pretext of some doctrinal disagreement with the Church and schismatic intent. Though we are not in formal and canonical communion with the Pope and the body of the Church, we are in communion by desire and intention, professing the entire Faith of the Church and waiting for the guidance we asked for.

Covenants with God were always bi-lateral, in the Old Testament and in the Church of Jesus Christ – I will be your God and you will be my people. Promises and commitments go both ways, and honour and dignity will be the basis of any union of the group of Anglicans called the TAC with the Holy See. We are a Body and approach the Church as a body.

Our Archbishop has obviously foreseen a continuation of the TAC in some form depending on the numbers of clergy and faithful who need more time, not only in discerning their full assent to Catholic dogma and moral teaching, but also the opportunity of going forward in a given set of conditions beyond our control.

There is no time-limit, which is fortunate. This should take all anxiety and anguish away from our hearts and minds. If we as a body are asked to dissolve the TAC and go forward only as undefined parish-sized units or as individuals, this would not be in keeping with what was requested in our Bishops’ petition. Such a requirement coming from Rome would not be in the ecumenical spirit that has already been expressed in regard to the TAC by Cardinal Levada, and by such signs as TAC bishops being invited to Papal Masses and their being asked to show up in full choir dress. Rome has never said they would only do business with Anglican Communion Anglicans. We would have no duty to go along with a requirement to lose our corporate identity in order to be truly Catholics in desire.

It is my hope and wish that many bishops, priests and lay people will remain loyal to Archbishop Hepworth, for he has driven this whole move and obtained an answer from Rome, quite independently of similar moves made at a later time by Church of England bishops. We should and must stay together as a body: England, Canada, the remnant of the ACA now in the Patrimony of the Primate or now joining it through Bishop Moyer, Australia – and those who are the most numerous but the most forgotten, our brethren in South Africa and India.

Some will try to discourage us by persuading us to distrust Archbishop Hepworth. His bishops in Canada, Australia, Africa and India trust him, as do Archbishop Falk and Bishop Moyer in the USA. That is good enough for me, and also for many people who form his flock. He is human as we all are, but he is also our Archbishop and our elected Primate. I continue to manifest my trust in him and my canonical obedience as a priest under his jurisdiction.

We must not become discouraged or resigned to humiliation or defeat, but patient and courageous through the prophetic spirit and generosity of the Holy Father in his original intentions, as manifested subtly in Cardinal Levada’s announcement and the Apostolic Constitution.


TTAC Application to the CDF

The TTAC was the first to express acceptance of Anglicanorum coetibus in October 2009. This was also the first formal request (outside any agreement made by other Anglicans with the Holy See during secret meetings) for the erection of a personal ordinariate in the UK.

* * *

The Traditional Anglican Church
Rt Revd David Moyer
Episcopal Visitor
C/O: Church of the Good Shepherd
1116 Lancaster Avenue
Rosemont, PA 19010

His Eminence William Cardinal Levada
Congregazione per la Dottrina Della Fede
Palazzo del S. Uffizio
00120 Vatican City

Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension, 16th May 2010

Your Eminence,

The people of the Traditional Anglican Church in the United Kingdom (a province of the Traditional Anglican Communion) express their profound gratitude to you for your positive response of December 16th 2009 to our Letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of October 5th 2007 in which we expressed our desire to “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 have read and studied with care the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus with the Complementary Norms and the accompanying Commentary, as well as the initial statement from your Dicastery at the time of your press conference with Archbishop DiNoia.

And now, in response to your invitation to contact your Dicastery to begin the process you outline, and in accordance with our unanimous synod vote of October 2009: which reads thus:-

“That this Assembly, representing the Traditional Anglican Communion in Great Britain, offers its joyful thanks to Pope Benedict XVI for his forthcoming Apostolic Constitution allowing the corporate reunion of Anglicans with the Holy See, and requests the Primate and College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion to take the steps necessary to implement this Constitution.”

We therefore request that:

1) That the Apostolic Constitution be implemented in the United Kingdom and a Personal Ordinariate be erected.

2) That we may establish an interim Governing Council.

3) That this interim Council be directed by the Holy Father to propose a terna of names for the appointment of an Ordinary in a UK Ordinariate.

While we cannot speak for other groups of Anglicans in the United Kingdom, we shall be delighted if others apply for acceptance under the terms of Anglicanorum coetibus.

With continued expressions of appreciation for the generosity of the Holy Father in gathering the Anglicans into the fullness of Eucharistic communion, we await your instructions,

Yours sincerely in Christ,

+David L. Moyer, Episcopal Visitor
+Robert Mercer CR, retired, assistant to the Visitor


For the Historical Record

* * *

Statement of Archbishop Hepworth on Response from Holy See

by Christian Campbell

In the past three weeks, each of the Bishops and Vicars General who signed the Petition to the Holy See of October 5th 2007 seeking “corporate reunion with the Holy See” has received a formal response. These letters, from the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, William Cardinal Levada, complete the process of the response of the Holy See to the Petition, and initiate the process of our formal response to the Apostolic Constitution.

The Cardinal makes the point in his letter that

This provision (the Apostolic Constitution with the Norms and Commentary) 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.

In the Petition, the bishops sought

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.

In another place, they state that the Traditional Anglican Communion was formed, in part

to seek as a body full and visible communion, particularly eucharistic communion, in Christ, with the Roman Catholic Church

The Cardinal, in his letter, acknowledges our request

that some way might be found to welcome groups of clergy and faithful from the Traditional Anglican Communion into full visible unity with the Catholic Church, in a structure that could offer support and witness to the many evident graces of the Anglican tradition.

He goes on the add that, in the period since the submission of the Petition, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has completed a long and detailed study with the aim of making available

A suitable and viable model of organic unity for your and other such groups.

In the concluding paragraph of his letter, Cardinal Levada states that

I am only too aware of the delicate process of discernment that will no doubt need to be embarked upon by many of our Anglican brothers and sisters, and no less of the many difficult practical issues that will need to be faced.

He sets out the initial steps that must be taken in response.

I have replied to Cardinal Levada, thanking him once again for the generous pastoral understanding in what he has written to us. I have reiterated my thanks for the groundbreaking and historic nature of the Apostolic Constitution. I note that the Holy Father last week acknowledged the work of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the production of the Apostolic Constitution. Pope Benedict told the Congregation that

Unity is first and foremost the unity of faith, upheld by the sacred tradition of which Peter’s Successor is the primary custodian and defender…the faithful adherence of these groups (of Anglicans) to the truth received from Christ and presented in the Magisterium of the Church is in no way contrary to the ecumenical movement, it reveals, rather the ultimate scope that consists in reaching the full and visible communion of the disciples of the Lord.

I stated in my initial comments on the response of the Holy See last October that our obligation was “to be still in prayer and reflection” as a possibility arises that has been unavailable to communities of Anglicans since the cleavage of the Reformation. Our bishops, at my request and that of the Holy See, have maintained their quietness until the whole process of promulgation has been completed.

Next week, I will be publishing a commentary on the Constitution for members of the Traditional Anglican Communion. Now that a formal response has been received, I am also releasing at the same time the text of the Petition. In my statement, I will be setting out the steps that must now be taken by the whole College of Bishops, and by each part of our Communion. I emphasize that this “process of discernment” concerns the primary command of Jesus to His Church. It can neither be hurried nor lightly undertaken. But I also emphasize that a way of achieving unity has been created that is a direct and immediate response to our Petition, and to delay implementing the fullness of communion that we have sought would be in serious defiance of the will of Jesus for His Church. Now, above all, we must be sensitive to our Lord, and sensitive to each other.

The process we are following is this:

1. We are already in detailed and fruitful discussion with other Anglican groups mentioned by the Cardinal, and with bishops nominated to liaise with us by Catholic Conferences of Bishops in several parts of the world.

2. In the next few weeks, in Japan, Central America, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Torres Strait, and a little later in India, Africa and Europe, I will have the opportunity of meeting with many of the clergy and people of our Communion. Regional gatherings of bishops, clergy and people are being organized in each part of our Communion. I look forward very much to being with you.

3. I will be calling a full meeting of the College of Bishops for Eastertide, 2010. The bishops will make a formal response to the Holy See, which will be followed in due time by canonical steps in the member churches of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

In the meantime, as we contemplate our response, we do well to read again and again the words of Jesus in the great prayer to His Father for the unity of His followers, and to measure our response with His words.

And also we should read with careful attention the opening words of the Constitution, in which Pope Benedict spells out his response to our request:

In recent times the Holy Spirit has moved groups of Anglicans to petition repeatedly and insistently to be received into full Catholic communion individually as well as corporately. The Apostolic See has responded favorably to such petitions. Indeed, the successor of Peter, mandated by the Lord Jesus to guarantee the unity of the episcopate and to preside over and safeguard the universal communion of all the Churches could not fail to make available the means necessary to bring this holy desire to realization.

+John Hepworth, Primate January 16th 2010


Round of the Comments Following the English Announcement

Is the TAC frozen out of the Ordinariates? I have no idea, given that Forward in Faith has been so welcoming to the TAC, and only this year, Archbishop Hepworth was invited to speak at the yearly National Assembly in London last month.

I’m sure we have nothing to worry about in England, and I am even more optimistic about the USA where Fr Christopher Phillips is doing such a fine job getting everyone together and united in a common cause.

I am often not very enthusiastic about my own judgement of things, so I look for consensus in blog comments here and there. My colleague on this blog feels the crush of defeat. Unjustifiably?

We still hear the tired old stuff about our having to wait in the queue until the “eleventh-hour labourers” are through the gate. Strange, considering some said they were the first aboard a train the TAC missed! What came first, the chicken or the egg? This will doubtless remain one of life’s mysteries for some time yet…

Now, if the English hermeneutic prevails in America, Canada and Australia, it might be difficult to find enough Anglicans to get into a telephone booth. The mind boggles!

It is true that the TTAC is small, because as I have said before, decent Englishmen don’t like non-conformity. Someone stuck a spanner in the Establishment spokes through the ordination of women. Bit annoying isn’t it. Still, Old Paddy’s Mission has been around for long enough to be almost an Establishment Church. Should be almost as good! Well, you never know, Bishop Mercer might get onto the back benches of the Ordinary’s Council. Well, perhaps England doesn’t matter so much after all, and its value is only symbolic.

Remember I live in France, and houses are a lot cheaper over here. I don’t come across many English expats over here. Most are in the Vendée and the Dordogne, but I’m sure there are opportunities for ministry over here once we are accepted by an Ordinariate in Canada, the US or Australia – or even South Africa ten years down the road. This might be a good opportunity for some TTAC priests. Just write to me and I’ll find you a good estate agent! We won’t get an ordinariate in France, but we don’t have to be under England!

A lady asks “The patrimony – in what is it reckoned to consist? Is there any clue about this?” Good question.

Might there be two ordinariates? I doubt it as much as the most hardened sceptic. A separate deanery for the TTAC? One can always hope – in the same way as we can continue to play the Lottery and look at that lovely new thirty-foot ocean-going yacht! Most of us still have to work to bring ends together at the end of the month and pay the bills.

A good word of advice comes in - Give it time. We may know more in a few days/weeks. The TAC may be small in the UK, but 23 priests have sent in their dossiers, not eight as has been mentioned elsewhere. We continue to pray and wait for our Bishops (Moyer and Mercer) to offer guidance, when they are free to speak. Therein lies wisdom. We wait for our Bishops to speak. Yes we have a Hierarchy and we, as priests, obey and respect our superiors.

Well, there will be just one ordinariate in England. That is not to say there might be no TAC in a year’s time. Who knows?

Finally, I look forward to a word from the Holy Father congratulating the English Catholic hierarchy for their incredible change of heart since January 2010. Anyone wondered why this sudden sight of the Light came about? I wonder…