Here’s a salient excerpt of the history, which, as Fr. Chadwick observes, makes no mention of Archbishop Hepworth. I have emboldened the parts relating to my comment above.
In recent years, rather than concentrating on promoting the Anglican Way and repairing the breaches among the ‘Continuers’, the Traditional Anglican Church in Britain, and the TAC as a whole have been heavily preoccupied with attempts to achieve a spectacular goal; the healing of the rift with the Church of Rome with its more than one billion members. The TAC was led to believe that this might take the form of a coming together of what Pope Paul VI once described as ‘sister Churches’ in mutual reconciliation.
At the height of their hopes, in 2007, the then members of the College of Bishops and Vicars General, meeting at St Agatha’s, Portsmouth, solemnly signed a copy of the ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’ which had been placed upon the altar, as an expression of their desire for such an outcome, and petitioned Rome for a response. After a wait of two years, however, it was made clear that although Rome was willing to provide special jurisdictions for former Anglicans in newly-devised ‘Ordinariates’, in which various aspects of Anglican culture would be preserved for the enrichment of the whole Roman Catholic Church, this could only be by means of individual conversion and implicit, if tacit, rejection of much of former Anglican sacramental ministry, whether exercised or received. And at the end of the process, the TAC would cease to exist.
While some found this acceptable, many more did not, and although happy to wish ‘Godspeed’ to those who had left or were still intending to leave, and to express gratitude to the Roman Catholic Church and especially to Pope Benedict XVI for offering what had been proposed, the Traditional Anglican Communion, and the TACB as a member Church, signified their intention to look towards an independent future pursuing their calling as continuing, classical Anglicans.
Back when Anglicanorum coetibus came out, I think I would have been ecstatic if the TAC were recognized as a Church, perhaps with a little cleaning up to guarantee all orders were properly valid. When it was made clear the Apostolic Constitution did not grant our wish, but was devised to accommodate all groups of Anglicans, not just us, I hoped for at least a willingness to recognize our legal and corporate identities on the front end of the process. That did not happen, although if we had hung together, I think we could have brought all our assets into the deanery here in Canada.
I think the author of the most interesting post is right that our dreams were for being recognized as a sister Church.
As for the rejection of previous sacramental ministry, however tacit or implicit, I can see how one might perceive it that way, but I think there is more of a veil over this area than a strict “Anglican orders are null and void and everything you have done is a sacrilege that you must renounce” and a kind of silence embued with generosity and kindness that is couched more in terms of “uncertainty” or in terms of a different understanding of what it means to be a Catholic priest in communion with the See of Peter as opposed to someone who may have a claim to valid Apostolic Succession (many TAC bishops considered they had this, but some did not). The Catechism as our statement of faith means we did not have to have Apostolica Curiae waved in our faces—don’t think it’s mentioned in the CCC, is it? but instead to have the more nuanced teachings from the Second Vatican Council on elements of grace and sanctity to be found outside the Catholic Church.
It was very painful to see ourselves shrink to a remnant of our former numbers in terms of those who stayed the course to join Ordinariates. But in retrospect, this trying by fire, this proving, this separating of those who had joined us with disparate motives but not sharing the vision of unity, has been good for us.
Imagine if we had been received “lock, stock ‘n barrel” as one TAC bishop put it to me.
We’d have a lot more people, for sure. Our parishes would have lots of people who dissent from many points of Catholic doctrine, who refused to think with the Church, but who became members merely because the parish rolls were suddenly sanitized. Gee, it might resemble the local Catholic parish down the street!
But what was the Catholic Church to do about our divorced and remarried clergy and lay people? What was the Church to do in ensuring all sacraments, such as confirmations that did not include Chrismation, are valid?
I still think the process could have been done with some more pastoral finesse, but I’ve come around to being thankful for what is, despite the many huge disappointments along the way.