Now three former Traditional Anglican Communion bishops who signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 2007 on the altar of St. Agatha’s in Portsmouth are Catholic priests: Fr. Peter Wilkinson, Msgr. Robert Mercer and Fr. Harry Entwistle who is Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross.
I look forward to soon posting pictures of the ordination of a fourth, our own (Bishop) Carl Reid here in Ottawa, we hope in late January. When I have a firm date I will let you know.
These men caught the vision Archbishop Hepworth had for unity and they stayed true and loyal despite the uncertainty, humiliation, unending spiritual attack, rebellion in their own ranks and among their clergy, back-stabbing by long-time members of their own parishes, and the public flaying of Hepworth in the news media and the press that caused not only him but also all of us who cared about the vision and about Hepworth personally great anguish. To say nothing about the disappointment we all felt at the broken bonds of the wider TAC Communion.
How might things look different now had all the bishops behaved like good Catholics before becoming Catholic? How many more TAC bishops would be in the pipeline for ordination as Catholic priests? How many more parishes might be already inside Ordinariates? I know, Bill Tighe is maybe thinking “Well, some were divorced and remarried”—but what if each one went to their local marriage tribunal and found that perhaps they were never really married the first time anyway?
Hepworth had hoped for a more corporate reception on the front end—that even if the TAC were not granted sui juris status as a church, that at least some consideration would be given to the fact that we existed as corporate legal entities with an ecclesial structure in which bishops not lay people determined doctrine.
But for what it’s worth, I see his vision slowly but surely coming true before my eyes. We already have some former TAC priests ordained to the priesthood in the United States. More are on their way, either having finished the formation program or beginning it.
I know some would like to get into some revisionist history and downplay the significance of the Portsmouth Petition, which is an inspiring document, and to treat Hepworth as if he is disgraced simply because he went forward with his sexual abuse claims.
WE who have crossed the Tiber and enjoying the fruits of full communion inside the Catholic Church owe him a huge debt of gratitude.