Insight into the charges against Archbishop Hepworth

Fr. Anthony Chadwick has a long post on the ongoing rift between former Traditional Anglican Communion primate Archbishop John Hepworth that includes a letter from Bishop Craig Botterill that lays out the concerns of those bishops who remain.

Here is Bishop Botterill’s letter, as it is posted on Fr. Chadwick’s site:

God give you peace:

Thank you for your inquiry.  Archbishop Hepworth was not deposed.  That would suggest that he had been “removed from office”.  His Grace resigned as Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion just prior to Easter and the College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion, meeting at Johannesburg, elected Archbishop Prakash (Metropolitan of India) as interim Primate until the full nomination and election process provided for in the Victoria Concordat (the T.A.C. constitution) can take place.

During his Primacy Archbishop Hepworth had publically declared in many media interviews that the T.A.C. approved and ratified the process set out in Anglicanorum Coetibus by which Anglicans could make individual, personal conversions to Roman Catholicism.  Archbishop Hepworth did not convene a meeting of the College of Bishops to consider this matter although several bishops repeatedly requested that he do so.  After several of the Dioceses and Provinces of the T.A.C. voted not to follow Anglicanorum Coetibus, Archbishop Hepworth took responsibility for the failure of this sincere attempt at unity and resigned.

When the College of Bishops met for the first time since the Holy Father issued Anglicanorum Coetibus they unanimously voted to decline the invitation to become Roman Catholic and wrote to the Holy Father of the resolution of the Traditional Anglican Communion to remain Anglican.  Thereafter, and contrary to the resolution of the College of Bishops, Archbishop Hepworth (having resigned as Primate) continued to advocate that our Dioceses be disbanded and that our members become Roman Catholics.  He wrote to the bishops and clergy of the T.A.C. urging “loyal bishops” to join him in a new Society of Saint Benedict, dedicated to the implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus.  This caused distress amongst some members of the College of Bishops, and seven bishops signed an indictment alleging that Archbishop Hepworth was engaging in activity contrary to the fundamental principles of the Victoria Concordat (which, incorporating the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral mandated intercommunion with other Catholic denominations, but not absorption by them).

Acting Primate Archbishop Prakash struck a disciplinary tribunal, as provided for in Article 10 of the Victoria Concordat and suspended Archbishop Hepworth from episcopal ministry until the tribunal could meet.  Archbishop Hepworth ignored the suspension and called a Synod of the Australian Province.  This was contrary to the will of the Vicar General of the Anglican Catholic Church of Australia, who, during Archbishop Hepworth’s suspension, was the apostolic administrator of that Province.

The Acting Primate, chaired the disciplinary tribunal.  The Victoria Concordat provides that the tribunal shall consist of three members – the Primate, a bishop appointed by him, and a bishop appointed by the accused bishop.  The T.A.C. retained solicitors in Australia to formally serve Archbishop Hepworth with notice of the charges and the dates of the disciplinary tribunal.  They retained a bailiff who personally served the documents, which included a request that Archbishop Hepworth appoint a bishop to the tribunal, and cautioned that should he fail to confirm his attendance at the disciplinary tribunal (to be held in New Delhi) by a date certain (so that airline arrangements for all concerned could be made) the tribunal would convene by telephone conference and proceed in his absence.

Archbishop Hepworth ignored his summons, did not appoint a bishop to the tribunal, and did not participate in or attend the proceeding.  Archbishop Prakash asked me to serve on the tribunal, as I was not one of the bishops who signed the accusation, and as it was commonly known that I consider Archbishop Hepworth a dear friend.  The Acting Primate appointed Bishop Brian Marsh, presiding bishop of the Anglican Church in America, as the third member of the tribunal.

When the tribunal met we concluded that Archbishop Hepworth had engaged in activity contrary to the fundamental principles of the T.A.C. and the Acting Primate imposed the penalty of expulsion from the T.A.C. College of Bishops.  This effectively means that Archbishop Hepworth may not engage in public ministry within the Traditional Anglican Communion, but does not affect the status of his Holy Orders as a deacon, priest, and bishop.  I will accord him the respect due to any bishop of the Church.  He has given many years of devoted service to the Church and I pray that he will be able to embrace his retirement from episcopal ministry and turn his energy to his family and his passion for sailing.

In His Love,

+Craig

While I don’t agree with everything Fr. Anthony says in his long post, which includes a lengthy letter from Archbishop Hepworth on his reasons for creating the Society of St. Benedict, a life raft for those in the TAC who still wished to remain pro-Catholic but who were unable for whatever reason to enter an Ordinariate at this time, I think his analysis is worth pondering.

Please read the whole post.

Who was to blame for the failure of the TAC to achieve unity as a complete body? My answer would be to share the blame on Rome for outsourcing the process and putting it under the authority of the Episcopal Conferences, the American bishops for being opposed to the entire agenda and Archbishop Hepworth for trying to keep the whole thing on course whilst ignoring the fact that it was impossible other than by allowing the TAC to be destroyed and the “suitable” clergy to be “cherry picked” in a parish-by-parish approach, received as laymen and re-ordained like the clergy leaving the Canterbury Anglican Communion. The ecclesial approach promoted in Portsmouth in October 2007 clashed with the reality of the small non-ecclesial group approach involving individual receptions of persons allowed to keep their social bonds at parish level.

This tribunal against Archbishop Hepworth has been less an attack against his person but what he represented – hoping for ecclesial union and accepting non-ecclesial small group receptions involving the dismantling of the TAC. Bishop Botterill said that Archbishop Hepworth “continued to advocate that our Dioceses be disbanded and that our members become Roman Catholics“. Did the Archbishop say or write that? Can someone quote him, or was this idea simply assumed to be implicit in what actually happened?

Something else miffed the TAC bishops who got together in March 2012 in South Africa for the purpose of halting the dismantling process to which the bishops seemed to have been implicitly committed by signing the catechism and letter on the altar at St Agatha’s. That was the Archbishop becoming aware of the cold reality of fighting a two-front war: against Rome’s deed of having decapitated the TAC to take in clergy and communities as “spare parts” to mix in with those leaving the Canterbury Communion, and against the “survivalist” bishops united around Archbishop Prakash and powered by Bishop Michael Gill and the Americans.

Fr. Anthony asks:  “Bishop Botterill said that Archbishop Hepworth “continued to advocate that our Dioceses be disbanded and that our members become Roman Catholics“. Did the Archbishop say or write that?”

When Archbishop Hepworth declared soon after the Apostolic Constitution came out that it was the answer to the TAC’s request, he did not know how Anglicanorum coetibus would be implemented.  I recall him saying it was a generous response to our request and that the AC did not represent the starting point for a negotiation.  It was a definitive response to our request, not something that could be modified.   And he interpreted it expansively.

I believe at this point Hepworth expected a much more generous attitude towards the TAC and the corporate nature of the individual churches that made it up.

Hepworth, however, was excluded from the week-long implementation meeting in the spring of 2010 when the Church of England Bishops met at CDF with Bishop Elliott? to hammer out the details of how this would take place.  Implementation favored the Church of England groups which had no property or assets to bring with them.  It totally disregarded the corporate nature—even in a legal sense, never mind an ecclesial sense–of the TAC.  This is not Hepworth’s fault.

It was only as the episcopal delegates started to roll out the process that Hepworth and the other TAC bishops became aware of that the model was parish-by-parish, with a stress on individual conversion on the front end, with the corporate aspect only on the back end of the process.  I believe Hepworth’s realization of how badly implementation was going to affect the TAC only came in the fall of 2010, as he found out through back  channels what had happened in Rome at that implementation meeting.

The implementation of the AC was tremendously destabilizing and destructive to the ecclesial bonds of the TAC and I can understand why the bishops who have remained behind are crying foul about that.  There is a justice issue here.  But I don’t think Hepworth is the right scapegoat. There is blame all the way around, because the early behavior of the American bishops might have persuaded Rome the TAC was not a serious church that was unified on an episcopal model and that Hepworth did not have the support he claimed to have in his College of Bishops.  The way this process exacerbated the destruction of our fragile unity is one of the most painful aspects of this whole thing, something I railed against in the run up to our reception last spring and frankly, made the individual choice about becoming officially Catholic a difficult one.

So, anyway, I have some greater understanding of what’s going on.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Insight into the charges against Archbishop Hepworth

  1. Pingback: Bishop Botterill on the TAC Tribunal | As the Sun in its Orb & New Goliards

  2. Pingback: Still More on Archbsihop John Hepworth… « Fr Stephen Smuts

  3. Pingback: Insight into the charges against Archbishop Hepworth | Catholic Canada

  4. Rev22:17 says:

    Deborah,

    From Bishop Botterill’s letter: Archbishop Hepworth was not deposed. That would suggest that he had been “removed from office”. His Grace resigned as Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion just prior to Easter and the College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion, meeting at Johannesburg, elected Archbishop Prakash (Metropolitan of India) as interim Primate until the full nomination and election process provided for in the Victoria Concordat (the T.A.C. constitution) can take place.

    I realize that this is the party line of the “continuing Anglican” body that now calls itself the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) and that Bishop Botterill is in the bind of having to follow it if he is to be part of the body that emerged from the Johannesburg meeting, but it is rooted in falsehood. Archbishop Hepworth’s resignation set an effective date in June of 2012. Thus, Archbishop Hepworth was still the primate when Archbishop Prakesh convened a meeting of the majority of TAC bishops in Johannesburg in March of 2012. Since there was still a primate, Archbishop Prakesh lacked the authority to convene an official meeting of the TAC College of Bishops without the Primate’s permission, so the meeting in Johannesburg could not be a legitimate meeting of the TAC’s College of Bishops. And the fact that the bishops who met in Johannesburg decided that Archbishop Hepworth’s resignation should be effective immediately, rather than on the date specified in the resignation, constituted a mutiny and a deposition.

    It’s unfortunate that Bishop Botterill is bound to follow the party line of the mutineers. We can pray that a realignment of “continuing Anglican” bodies in Canada will provide a viable alternative.

    Paradoxically, it was haste that led to this situation. Had Archbishop Prakesh simply waited until Archbishop Hepworth’s resignation took effect, he would have become acting primate legitimately, and thus would have held the authority to convene the TAC College of Bishops legitimately. Such a legitimate meeting would not have had to depose Archbishop Hepworth since his resignation would have already taken effect, and Archbishop Hepworth would not have had any reason to convene a meeting of bishops who remained loyal.

    From Bishop Botterill’s letter: Archbishop Hepworth ignored his summons, did not appoint a bishop to the tribunal, and did not participate in or attend the proceeding.

    As well he should. The organization created by the mutiny by the TAC bishops at Johannesburg that now purports to be the TAC is not an organization to which Archbishop Hepworth ever belonged. Thus, tribunals of this organization has no authority whatsoever over him.

    You wrote: Hepworth, however, was excluded from the week-long implementation meeting in the spring of 2010 when the Church of England Bishops met at CDF with Bishop Elliott? to hammer out the details of how this would take place. Implementation favored the Church of England groups which had no property or assets to bring with them. It totally disregarded the corporate nature—even in a legal sense, never mind an ecclesial sense–of the TAC. This is not Hepworth’s fault.

    In fairness, there was another dimension to this situation. When the erection of an ordinariate for Canada was set to proceed in Spring of 2011, the TAC was not yet ready to proceed. You may recall some confusion when then-Archbishop Collins announced that he would appoint a local Catholic priest to act as a liaison and mentor for each congregation that was coming to the ordinariates, and Archbishop Hepworth directed the parishes of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) not to meet with them because there were issues still being worked out with the Vatican that affected the whole of the TAC. The matter did get sorted out, but not until after Archbishop Collins had publicly told the Toronto Ordinariate Group (TOG) that it might not be possible to establish an ordinariate in Canada and began to consider alternatives for the other interested groups (which included the TOG and the Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Calgary). The matter did get sorted out and Archbishop Hepworth reversed his directive a couple weeks later.

    But the bottom line here is that the TAC was not ready to proceed because Archbishop Hepworth was trying to negotiate more favorable terms, probably for the TAC but quite possibly also for himself. One of his pastoral letters spoke obliquely of “delicate negotiations” with the Vatican, which likely did include discussions of his personal status — perhaps a hope for an exception to the prohibition of former Catholic clergy serving the ordinariates or of personal rehabilitation and restoration as a Catholic presbyter — but in any case, the public disclosure of his being abused by clergy in Australia killed any hope of that. The magisterium of the Catholic Church simply does not like dirty laundry being hung out for all to see, and thus ensures that those who do so do NOT get favorable treatment.

    You wrote: It was only as the episcopal delegates started to roll out the process that Hepworth and the other TAC bishops became aware of that the model was parish-by-parish, with a stress on individual conversion on the front end, with the corporate aspect only on the back end of the process.

    The process should have been obvious to all concerned from the beginning. The need to cure the defects in the sacraments of confirmation and holy orders due to lack of valid apostolic succession was never negotiable. Any exceptions under the acknowledgement that there “could be exceptions” that Archbishop Hepworth had extracted from the Vatican would be predicated on documentation of valid orders. Basically, this would mean that (1) exceptions for ordination would be predicated on showing that the individual was already validly ordained as a presbyter by a bishop validly ordained as a bishop and (2) exceptions for confirmation would be predicated on showing that the minister of confirmation held valid ordination at least as a presbyter. And in any case, all exceptions would be individual unless the TAC could demonstrate that all clergy held valid orders. I know that there was some participation of bishops with orders believed to be undisputablly valid in the episcopal ordinations of some TAC bishops, but it seems unlikely that such episcopal ordinations had extended to all TAC bishops: I doubt that any of the former Anglican bishops in the TAC had received episcopal ordination from such bishops, for example.

    But having said that, the sentiment of “individual conversion” is wrong. Rather, it was about individual reception into full communion so that defects in the sacrament of confirmation could be cured at the time of reception.

    You wrote: The implementation of the AC was tremendously destabilizing and destructive to the ecclesial bonds of the TAC and I can understand why the bishops who have remained behind are crying foul about that. There is a justice issue here.

    Yes, but much of the destabilization arose because the bishops of the TAC balked and refused to proceed. If the TAC bishops had supported the process, there would now be ordinariates in formation in India and South Africa, likely with Archbishop Prakesh and Bishop Gill as their ordinaries, and suitable accommodation (extraterritorial parishes or deaneries of one or another of the ordinariates, perhaps regional ordinariates that would span the territories of several conferences of bishops where the territory of each conference lacks “critical mass” for an ordinariate of its own, or “anglican use” personal parishes of the local diocese where there was no other viable alternative) for the TAC entities in other places. The Church of the Torres Strait, for example, probably would have become a territorial deanery of the Personal Ordinarate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross.

    Of course, this presumes that the chief bishops of the respective provinces don’t have impediments that would prevent them from serving as clergy of ordinariates. I’m aware that some of the TAC bishops do have such impediments.

    You wrote: There is blame all the way around, because the early behavior of the American bishops might have persuaded Rome the TAC was not a serious church that was unified on an episcopal model and that Hepworth did not have the support he claimed to have in his College of Bishops.

    I doubt that the actions of a few TAC bishops, including Bishop Marsh here in the States and Bishop Gill in South Africa, did any more than confirm what the Vatican already knew. The Vatican seems to have really good intelligence about what’s happening in other Christian denomenations, so they probably were well aware that there was some discontent. The Vatican’s knowledge that some TAC clergy were previously ordained as Catholic presbyters probably is what motivated the explicit prohibition of those who previously served as Catholic presbyters from serving as clergy of an ordinariate in Anglicanorum coetibus

    Norm.

  5. Bruce says:

    It is so sad to read all these stories. I am an Anglican Use Catholic but was never a member of the TAC and so do not know the TAC from the inside. I was struck however by your comment “The way this process exacerbated the destruction of our fragile unity…” This rings true to this outside observer. The unity does seem so fragile, and it was that fragility that led to the current situation.

    What would have happened if more had recognized that disagreements don’t necessarily mean disunity? But so many focused on the disagreements and forgot — or dismissed — what the TAC shared.

    Through a common experience, a common history, a common spirituality the TAC are a group. They are a group before, now, and into the future. Despite the fact that various individuals have went their various ways — entering the ordinariates, waiting for admission, staying outside, etc. — the TAC shares a common bond and are a group.

    I was born in America, raised in America, and lived in America for many years. I was an American and continue to be so either though I have gone to live in a different country. Doing something different doesn’t change the past and what the past made me. I will always been in some way an American. The future can never change that. The future can never change my formation. No matter what I do, I will always share something in common with other Americans. I will always be part of the American family. Similarly, I am part of the Anglican family either though I have gone to live inside the Vatican country. Similarly, you and others will always be TACers, in unity with other TACers, even you have now living in the Roman Catholic Church.

    Unfortunately, many seem to have decided to focus not on what is shared, on what unifies, but rather on what divides. Instead of saying, yes you are Anglican or you are Catholic but not my type of Anglican or Catholic, many say you are not Anglican or Catholic because you are not exactly like me.

    But once one is formed one cannot be unformed. Once one is formed within Anglicanism or within the TAC, one cannot somehow by un-Anglicanized or un-TACized. In some meaningful way, once an American, always an American; once an Anglican, always an Anglican; and once a TACer, always a TACer.

    So many problems and the hurt feelings seem to this outsider to stem from the fact that some have chosen to focus on what divides than what unifies. So sad. With a bit more Christian charity/unity so much hurt could have been avoided.

  6. Bruce says:

    Re-reading my comment, I am reminded of Forrest Gump saying “Stupid is what stupid does.”

    What is Americanism? Americanism is what Americans do.

    What is Anglicanism? Anglicanism is what Anglicans do.

    One can of course say that living abroad that I am outside the American mainstream. That is true. One could say that I am no longer part of the American community. That is also true. But there is no way that you can say that I am no longer American.

    Nor can you say that I am no longer Anglican. Outside of mainstream or historical or orthodox Anglicans? Outside of the Anglican Communion? OK, but I am Anglican and will always be so. I am Anglican because Anglicanism made me who I am, and I cannot stop being who I am. It bothers me when people say that I am not Anglican because how can I be anything but Anglican? Anglicanism is in me, a part of me. I may have left a particular bureaucracy but I cannot leave myself. I can never leave Anglicanism.

    When people do not recognize what unifies — when they are not unified — problems, whether significant or minor, can become very, very difficult to resolve. In families, to overcome disputes it is necessary to always remember what is shared. When one focuses on what divides, division and divorce results, often nasty.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s