Excerpts from the minutes of the historic 2007 College of Bishops meeting in Portsmouth

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

CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

*********

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?

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23 Responses to Excerpts from the minutes of the historic 2007 College of Bishops meeting in Portsmouth

  1. This is an excellent analysis of the whole thing. The bishops will have to bear their weight of responsibility, and some have, by going over. For us priests “out in the cold” we have three choices: go to the local diocese and become a layman asking the question For what?, join another Church like someone who has been made redundant finds a new job – or be done with it all. Each of us (who are underlings and did not sign the letter and the catechism in Portsmouth) will have the responsibility for our own decisions. Alternatively, some will stay in their “new” TAC jurisdiction, especially in the USA.

    Perhaps the consciences of the bishops are bound, but not ours. All we can do now is to pray for each other with a forgiving heart.

  2. Sandra McColl says:

    “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.” And there are some of us who read the Apostolic Constitution and knew from the first moment that it did not offer corporate reunion. Listen, Mrs Gyapong. You’ve made your choice. Good on you.

  3. Sandra McColl says:

    Sorry, didn’t quite finish–good on you. Now, please leave us alone.

    As for you, Fr Chadwick, with your demands for all the TAC bishops to resign, do you really want to destroy the TAC (no, not the ‘new TAC’, the TAC)?

    • Before answering you, I will wait and see what is pronounced by the planned trial of Archbishop Hepworth in India.

    • Foolishness says:

      Dear Ms. McColl,

      You are welcome not to read my blog if it upsets you. I am merely in search of understanding and of making sure there is a clear record of what happened without re-interpretations based on hindsight, sour grapes or whatever.

      You were very much Ordinariate-bound at one point, no? You were very close to Bishop Elliott as I recall. What has turned you away? Or have you turned away?

      • Sandra McColl says:

        Perhaps I should take up your suggestion. After all, too much curiosity never did one any good. I have met Bishop Elliott briefly twice and exchanged a little small talk. I have never been close to him. My decisions are my affair until they are publicly made, and even then I’m no-one in particular for anyone on the other side of the world to worry about.

    • William Tighe says:

      I certainly don’t want to “destroy” the TAC, but I can see no point for its continued existence. On the one hand, it is vanishingly unlikely that there will be a “better” offer from Rome, and certainly not one that recognizes Anglican ecclesial communities as “true local churches” in the sense that Rome recognizes the Orthodox and the Polish National Catholics; and on the other, there are respectable Continuing Anglican bodies that span the whole Anglican theological rainbow, from those that profess a firmly “Catholic” stance (the ACC and the APCK) to those that occupy a kind of “middle ground” (the APA) to the “low church” (the UEC) — and if one is willing to step outside of Continuing Anglicanism, narrowly defined, the Evangelical (the REC, the FCE and the CESA).

      It is a pleasant thought that the remnant TAC might serve as a kind of catalyst for a greater integration among Continuing Anglican jurisdictions, but that assumes that the TAC and its bishops have the kind of “street cred” among their brother bishops in other CA jurisdictions that would allow this to happen — and how likely is that after all that has happened?

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Professor Tighe,

        You wrote: On the one hand, it is vanishingly unlikely that there will be a “better” offer from Rome, and certainly not one that recognizes Anglican ecclesial communities as “true local churches” in the sense that Rome recognizes the Orthodox and the Polish National Catholics…

        That is absolutely true. The Vatican will extend corporate union, in the manner of the so-called “uniate” churches in the distant past and, more recently, the reconcilliation of the Personal Apostolic Administration of St. John Marie Vianney a decade ago only to entities that have undisputed apostolic succession and thus undisputed validity of all seven sacraments. The union of bodies that lack this requires (1) individual reception and confirmation of each members thereof and (2) absolute Catholic ordination of all clergy.

        That said, there is a potential path to corporate union of the (new) Tradtional Anglican Communion (TAC) — but it would require the cooperation of a body that has undisupted apostolic succession, such as the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) or the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) and its affiliates in the Union of Scranton. The path is simple: arrange for bishops of the cooperating body to confirm and ordain all bishops (or at least enough bishops to confirm and ordain the rest), then have those bishops confirm and ordain all the rest of the clergy and confirm all of the laity. Of course, this would effectively mean acknowledging that the previous confirmations and ordinations were not valid — which I doubt that the TAC are prepared to do.

        You wrote: … but that assumes that the TAC and its bishops have the kind of “street cred” among their brother bishops in other CA jurisdictions that would allow this to happen — and how likely is that after all that has happened?

        When your reputation “on the street” is for double-crossing your previous associates, this probably is not very likely. I doubt that any of the other “continuing Anglican” bodies would accept very many of the bishops who are part of the (new) TAC, though they might be much more willing to accept its presbyters, deacons, and parishes.

        Norm.

      • William Tighe says:

        Norm,

        You wrote:

        “That said, there is a potential path to corporate union of the (new) Tradtional Anglican Communion (TAC) — but it would require the cooperation of a body that has undisupted apostolic succession, such as the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) or the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) and its affiliates in the Union of Scranton. The path is simple: arrange for bishops of the cooperating body to confirm and ordain all bishops (or at least enough bishops to confirm and ordain the rest), then have those bishops confirm and ordain all the rest of the clergy and confirm all of the laity.”

        Apart from the fact that the PNCC has treated Anglican Orders as invalid ever since breaking communion with the Episcopal Church in 1978 (ordaining absolutely Anglican clerical converts), I have grave doubts that the PNCC or any church of the Union of Scranton would be willing to act as a kind of Holy Orders Supply Unit for ecclesial communities that are not committed to entering the Union of Scranton, and how much more so SSPX. Such behaviour has been characteristic of pseudo Old Catholic episcopi vagantes, which hardly commends it. Well, I should add that it has also been characteristic of the Catholic Apostolic Church of Brazil (ICAB), which, as it was founded in 1945 by an excommunicated Catholic bishop, certainly has valid Orders — but the 1997 agreement between the Charismatic Episcopal Church and the ICAB, whereby the latter’s patriarch reconsecrated the former’s bishops (who had originally been consecrated by a Theosophist episcopus vagans in 1992, and then reconsecrated in 1995 by William Millsaps, then a bishop of the ACA and subsequently of the Episcopal Missionary Church) did not turn out well for either party, the ICAB severing its relationship with the CEC when the latter accepted into itself a formerly Anglican parish in Brazil (which the ICAB regarded as its own exclusive domain), and then itself splitting into at least two bodies (one supposedly “progressive;” the other “traditional”) around 2009, after its patriarch’s death.

        More to the point, though, hasn’t this already been tried, cf. the European Old Catholic bishops’ participation in British Anglican episcopal consecrations from 1932 onwards, and the participation of PNCC bishops in American Episcopalian and Canadian Anglican episcopal consecrations from 1946 to 1971? Among those American Episcopalian bishops at whose episcopal consecration a PNCC bishop participated was Albert A Chambers (on October 1, 1962), who consecrated in 1979 (along with Bishop Pagtakhan of the Philippine Independent Church, a body whose Orders were conferred by the Episcopal Church in 1947) the first Continuing Anglican bishops. Rome was long ago supplied with evidence relating to these consecrations, but it has evidently made no difference to Rome’s attitude towards Anglican or Comtinuing Anglican Orders (except in the case of Graham Leonard with regard to “the Dutch Touch” — and except also for the conditional ordination in Germany in 1968 of the former Episcopal Church priest John Jay Hughes). Rome seems unwilling to reconsider any aspect of the question of Anglican Orders and, as I wrote above, I do not believe that any Union of Scranton church would be willing to act in the matter that you suggest.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Sandra,

      You wrote: As for you, Fr Chadwick, with your demands for all the TAC bishops to resign, do you really want to destroy the TAC (no, not the ‘new TAC’, the TAC)?

      Whether you like reality or not, the bishops who assembled in South Africa at Archbishop Prakesh’s summons and there formed a new entity that is calling itself the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) already did that by staging a mutiny. As an outside observer, I don’t understand how anybody who really understands the situation and has a conscience can even begin to consider submission to their ecclesiastic authority.

      Norm.

      • Out of the Frying Pan says:

        They accepted Hepworth’s resignation. He subsequently resigned as Bishop Ordinary of the ACCA. And, Norm, i assure you, I have heard and read far more than you and have a better understanding of ‘the situation’ than most.

      • Sandra McColl says:

        Oops, it would appear my ‘Frying Pan’ comment has blown my cover. Never mind.

      • Dalene says:

        The members with voice and vote of the TAC College of Bishops were called together. There was no new entity that sprang up. Just the same Bishops that assembled in Portsmouth in 2007, sans a few active ones (who would not derive any benefit from being present as they opted to join the Ordinariate), and none of the retired Bishops. The TAC simply did not have the funds available to sponsor them all. As it is, each attendee paid his own airfare. As Dr. McColl rightly points out, there are some individuals who have read and know the details pertaining to this distressing situation. The fact that no dirty laundry is being aired on the blogs, does not mean that it does not exist.

  4. Foolishness says:

    At a conference on the Second Vatican Council last Thursday to Saturday, a bishop who used to work in Rome in Cardinal Kasper’s Christian Unity council cited a statement from the Catechism that says that men on both sides were responsible for division or schism, whatever the exact words were. He said this was one instance where no one insists on inclusive language, which drew a laugh. But more seriously, I believe there may be legitimate arguments for staying outside the Catholic Church—for instance I do not think the TAC bishops were wrong not to dissolve their parishes and enter immediately into the Catholic Church presto! as soon as they came to believe what the Catechism said is true. I also think that conversion is often gradual and people grasp different aspects at different times and the last thing that may go ker-plunk into place in someone’s mind is the ministry of Peter and its juridical aspect through other bishops in communion with him.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Deborah,

      You wrote: But more seriously, I believe there may be legitimate arguments for staying outside the Catholic Church—for instance I do not think the TAC bishops were wrong not to dissolve their parishes and enter immediately into the Catholic Church presto! as soon as they came to believe what the Catechism said is true. I also think that conversion is often gradual and people grasp different aspects at different times and the last thing that may go ker-plunk into place in someone’s mind is the ministry of Peter and its juridical aspect through other bishops in communion with him.

      Yes, absolutely. It is certainly valid for a pastor of souls to believe that his vocational calling is to unite his flock with the larger church, and thus to remain with his flock until his flock can come with him while working toward that end. Here, “working toward that end” includes both catechetical work within his flock and coordinating arrangements with the pastoral leadership (magisterium) of the larger church.

      And it is certainly also valid for a lay member of a separated congregation to believe that a calling to Christian unity is for the whole congregation and not for him or her as an individual, and thus to remain within that congregation working to bring that calling into being.

      Norm.

  5. BCCatholic says:

    It is perhaps a sign of the Moderator’s traumatic experience of parish/denomination break-up that this Portsmouth issue is revisited repeatedly and in detail. Who did what and why five years ago? Why did someone later change his mind, and is that by definition a Bad Thing? Is Hepworth a flawed hero or a con-artist? It’s like listening to someone retelling the story of their divorce for the umpteenth time. Even if these questions could be answered I am unclear as to how this would make any difference either to the ordinariates or to TAC in 2012 and beyond.

    • Foolishness says:

      Dear BCCatholic, thanks for your psychological examination of my motives.

      The traumatic experience of parish/denomination breakup are like the labor pains a mother forgets once the baby is born, though we women do still like to talk about our experiences in the delivery room as a form of solidarity.

      I am interested in exploring this because I am so thankful for what happened in 2007 and can trace so much joy back to this historic event in Portsmouth. I am proud of what the TAC College of Bishops did then and I believe it was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

      Obviously others have different interpretations and it would be nice to look at everything in a civil space of dialog.

  6. BCCatholic says:

    I’m sorry; I did not mean to offend and should have omitted my analogy. But the frame of the excerpts seemed to be a reiteration of the theme that this was all done in a completely above-board, non-coercive way so those who reneged on their decision are bad people, except for Hepworth who is a good person. This may all be true, but again I ask, to what end are we trying to come to a consensus about it?

    • Foolishness says:

      No offence taken BCCatholic. I should perhaps have put an emoticon with a wink or something in my response. I think what I am looking for credible explanations of what happened after 2007 that is more objective than one side is good and the other bad. I think the reasons are far more complex than that and as a journalist and a participant in something historic, I am curious. Maybe people are still too hurt by the process, which was horrendous. Believe it or not, I have some sympathy with those who said “Thanks, but no thanks” given how badly the whole thing was handled vis a vis the TAC, from CDF on down. There were several months late last year where my continuing refrain was, “I want to become Catholic because . . . ? Remind me, because I am really having trouble seeing this institutional mess as the Church of Christ. Thankfully for us we have a wonderful local Archbishop who was supportive throughout and a marvellous mentor priest. Others may have met with a less welcoming face of the Church. And Hepworth may bear a certain amount of responsibility as well but it would be good to be able to assess such things in an objective light that does not demonize the man (or for those like myself) does not demonize or impute the worst motives to the TAC bishops who decided to say “Thanks, but no thanks.”

      • Foolishness says:

        P.S. My state last Fall, in which I saw only an “institutional mess” was I believe a state brought on by the tremendous spiritual warfare all of us were under over the past few years as we tried to thwart all impulses to division and seek unity. It was costly. I went through a period where it was as if I had strange glasses on that magnified any flaw in the Catholic Church and the great good I know to be there to recede from my consciousness. I had to finally pray to the Lord and say, “I want to obey you and surrender my life to you. If obeying you is the same as obeying the Catholic Church, of seeing the Catholic Church as Your Church, founded by You, I need a sign, something to reveal this to me, something supernatural because I can’t see it right now. If this is true, open my eyes and help me obey you.” He gave me more than three supernatural signs.

  7. TACit says:

    I very much appreciate reading your ongoing commentary/analysis of this situation, Deborah, and want to say thanks for not dropping the matter, which does deserve retrospective examination. Perhaps I’ll say a bit more later on.

  8. To Sandra McColl – October 1, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    So that’s a threat, is it? Very nice.

    I find you incredibly uptight and defensive. Did you ever think of taking up sailing? There’s a guy who made it from south Australia over the strait to Tasmania in a Laser. It must have been a hell of a ride, and the sea puts a lot of things into perspective.

    Just cool down, and just remember that I’m powerless to destroy anything, let alone be the stuff of an international conspiracy! 🙂

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