The College of Bishops meeting ran from Monday Oct. , 2007 until Oct. , 2007
The Traditional Anglican Communion’s Portsmouth Petition was dated Oct. 5, 2007 and hand-delivered to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith on Oct. 9, 2007.
From Monday’s minutes (with my emphases):
On Monday evening, the Primate presided at a solemn celebration of Evening Prayer, followed by Solemn Benediction. He then gave his Charge to the College of Bishops, reflecting on the challenges faced by Christians at the present time, particularly from aggressive Humanism, aggressive Islam and aggressive Relativism. He challenged the assembled bishops to take the next step in the long TAC pilgrimage to unity with the Holy See, and to be prepared to accept the fullness of Catholic Faith by signing the Catechism of the Catholic Church and by accepting the centrality of the ministry of Peter in the life of the Church. He dwelt on the fact that the teaching of the Church must confront the problems of this time – issues of life and justice that confronted Christians through scientific advances. He commended the bishops for their heroism in maintaining clear teaching in deeply troubled times.
From Wednesday the Wednesday Oct. 3, 2007 Minutes:
UNITY WITH THE HOLY SEE
The Primate briefly introduced the debate, outlining the history of modern Anglican ecumenical dialogue with the Holy See. He then distributed the proposed letter that would be taken to the Holy See on the following Tuesday, 9th October, should the College so wish. After a time was allowed for private study of the draft letter, the Primate invited the College to join in the invocation of the Holy Spirit, And the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus was sung. The Primate then asked each of the bishops and Vicars-General to address the College, starting with the Primate Emeritus, Archbishop Louis Falk, who warmly commended the draft and the proposal of seeking unity with the Holy See.
In the following discussion, speakers urged the College to approve the draft, often in powerful terms. Several bishops questioned whether the draft letter should be taken to the Diocesan or National Synods before a final vote. It was felt that adequate expressions of support had already been given by the overwhelming majority of synods for this step to be taken.
The debate was adjourned at noon for Mass of the Holy Spirit.
After all had spoken, the Primate left the Chair and invited Bishop Botterill to chair the College in Committee. The draft was examined word for word, and minor textual amendments were made. Nothing of substance was changed.
On resuming the Chair, the Primate asked put the following resolution to the College, inviting those in favor to stand in their places:
“That this College of Bishops approve the text of the Letter to the Holy See seeking the guidance of the Holy See in the achievement of full sacramental communion with the See of Rome, that the College solemnly signs the Letter on Friday next during a Votive Mass for the Unity of the Church, that at the same time the College signs a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, and that the College requests the Primate, with Bishops Mercer and Wilkinson, to present these documents to the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Tuesday next, 9th October, in accordance with the invitation of Archbishop Angelo Amato, Secretary to the Sacred Congregation.”
The Bishops and Vicars-General stood and sang the hymn of Cardinal Newman, Firmly I believe and truly, followed by the Doxology
I remember when Archbishop Hepworth was making the rounds of various TAC synods prior to 2007 to get the approval of making a formal petition for unity with the Holy See. Our Anglican Catholic Church of Canada bishops were careful to make sure our members understood that their approval in principle was not a vote on doctrine because the TAC was not a congregational church where democracy rules. (Has that changed, Fr. Smuts?) Bishops determine(d) doctrine. But they did want to get a sense of where the lay faithful were regarding the approach to Rome. I was not in Halifax for the Synod prior to 2010’s where the ACCC voted on some legal resolutions that would have allowed the whole ACCC to come in legally and corporately into an Ordinariate. But I hear in Halifax there was a standing ovation when delegates were asked what they thought of the TAC making a formal petition. Hepworth also made the rounds of various parishes in early 2007, if I recall correctly, to also test our willingness to move forward. It was felt by our bishops that during his visit to Canada he met far more individual ACCC members than he would have at a Synod. I believe it was in Feb. 2007 that he disclosed to me (and to some others, like his brother bishops) the sexual abuse he suffered. One of the markers of abuse is either total silence, denial, compartmentalization or sometimes over-willingness to talk about it, a kind of inability to establish boundaries or know with whom or when it might be appropriate to disclose in safety. From my “research” into Hepworth and his abuse experience, the pendulum had swung from one extreme—-where he kept this secret—-to the other, when after he finally was confronted about other sexual abuse markers he had been exhibiting and the truth came out.
The other marker about Hepworth is his boyishness. Sexual abuse victims often get emotionally frozen at the age they are violated and traumatized. He struck me sometimes as a naive, hopeful 15-year old, full of idealism—a great part of his charm, this youthfulness in his manner, but undefended in some odd ways from people that might stab him in the back or betray him. But abuse victims often wear an unconscious “kick me” sign that makes them vulnerable to people predating on them again and again. He seemed to lack a good radar for detecting who was safe and who was not.
His boyishness also explains his sometimes apparently grandiose statements. But those of us who were aware of what had happened to him could discount these things. To others who either did not know, or did not believe him, these things might seem, well, over-optimistic in a charitable light, dishonest or a bill of goods from an uncharitable perspective.
But let’s leave Archbishop Hepworth aside for the moment. I think he makes a convenient scapegoat for many who have turned away from their signatures on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and their desire in 2007 for unity with the Holy See.
I suspect there are many reasons why those who were so eager to participate in the banquet have turned away.
Dr. Bill Tighe early on pointed to problems of divorced and remarried bishops in the TAC. I think this was largely an American problem, no?
There were I believe priests who decided not to go because they knew they would not be accepted as priests in the Ordinariate, either because they were “in delict of schism” for leaving the Roman Catholic Church as adults or because they feared they lacked sufficient theological training and would not qualify. I also don’t think we can underestimate the conscientious reasons priests might have for undergoing re-ordination rather than even a conditional ordination. The TAC has believed the same thing about the indelible nature of the priesthood and to be asked to put a veil of mystery of that or, if someone comes up against someone really clumsy in the Catholic Church, to be told their previous ministry was merely playing church and bordering on sacrilege, well, I can understand some reticence about knuckling under to that.
There are those who believe Hepworth lied and conned people into something that they did not mean or intend—they believed they were asking for intercommunion and that it was sold that way, i.e. that suddenly Rome would just recognize the TAC as Catholic, and our Holy Orders, tribunals and the whole nine-yards as valid. The TAC wanted to be recognized as a sui juris church, as already Catholic. But in hindsight, without accepting the jurisdiction and ministry of Peter one is not Catholic.
There are those who believe Rome engaged in a bait and switch, that at first Anglicanorum coetibus was interpreted as corporate reunion but as the meaning the text got interpreted by the bishops’ conferences, implementation began to look more and more like individual conversion and absorption. Some of these folks are keeping an eye on how the Ordinariate is unfolding. If it looks to much like the Anglican or Episcopalian jurisdictions that persecuted orthodox priests and, from their perspective, drove them into the wildnerness, they will stay out. But if the Ordinariates look like home, places Anglican patrimony is alive and well and flourishing, they may come around.
There are those who were deeply hurt, humiliated or offended by the unpastoral way the implementation was handled and have turned against the project for those personal reasons. I have hopes these people might also be persuaded eventually to come home to us.
Any other reasons for turning away that I have not thought of?