Thank you, Archbishop John Hepworth

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.

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11 Responses to Thank you, Archbishop John Hepworth

  1. Pingback: Speaking of Gratitude… « Fr Stephen Smuts

  2. Pingback: Thank you, Archbishop John Hepworth | Catholic Canada

  3. Karl says:

    Catholic Marriage Tribunals = Mockery of Marriage = Scandalous

    My opinion from decades of its consequences, not theory and not bigoted

    • Rev22:17 says:


      You wrote: Catholic Marriage Tribunals = Mockery of Marriage = Scandalous

      No. The tragic reality is that the marriage tribunals are coming to correct decisions.

      The real scandal is that so many of the marriages that Catholic tribunals have declared to be null and void ever got to the point of a church wedding in the first place. As guardian of the sacraments, the church has a duty to discern marriage every bit as thoroughly as she discerns ordination and to refuse ceremonies to couples who clearly do not intend the whole of Christian marriage. Unfortunately, we have too long had pastors who lacked the backbone to do that and make it stick.

      Of course, this points more broadly to a gross deficiency of ministry to single adults. In most cases, pastors become involved only after couples have decided that they want to marry, and often after they have already announced their engagement and started to make arrangements (reception, etc.). The pastor, or at least a pastoral associate acting on the pastor’s behalf, should be involved in the decision from the beginning of the discernment process. Alas, this can happen only if the pastoral leadership is actively engaged with all single parishionners — and that is where the real breakdown lies.


  4. Warren Memlib says:

    Because John Hepworth left the Catholic priesthood without dispensation from his priestly vows especially that of celibacy, the Church does not recognize his marriage and remarriage as an Anglican. Thus, he can re-enter the Church as a Roman Catholic, seeking “reduction to the lay state” and dispensation from his priestly vows. Then he can seek “convalidation” of his second marriage and “affiliation” with the Ordinariate, bringing his talents to serve the Ordinariate as a layman.

  5. Woody Jones says:

    I was glad to be able to sat hello to a former ACCC priest down here in Houston for the Ordinariate formation weekend (I forget whether it was called a “retreat”), unfortunately I have forgotten the name. He said there were a number of former ACCC clergy there, so this was really good news. We will look forward to the ordinations of this new class with great anticipation.

    • Rev22:17 says:


      You wrote: He said there were a number of former ACCC clergy there, so this was really good news.

      There’s a listing of clergy who intended to remain in the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) and its Diocese of Canada, those who intended to move into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, and those who were then undecided on Page 2 of the last issue of the Diocesan Circular published by the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada before the Pro-Diocese of Our Lady of Walsingham detached from it. Msgr. Steenson stated a while ago that there would be over twenty former Anglican clergy from Canada in the class for ordination that began with the retreat in Houston on the first weekend of December 2012 and coincidentally, there are twenty-two presbyters of the ACCC identified on the list of clergy who then intended to move into the ordinariate. I suspect that most of the presbyters on that list were at the retreat in Houston. I realize that it is not exact, but that list will give you a pretty good idea who would have been there.

      Of course, the twenty-something also encompasses the former Anglican clergy of the Toronto Anglican Use Sodality now meeting at Sacré-Coeur Parish Church who came from the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC), but I think that there are only three or four of them. It could include other clergy coming the ACC, but I’m not aware of any.


      • Don Henri says:

        There will be also at least one priest from the ANiC (Anglican Network in Canada – the local avatar of Archbishop Duncan’s ACNA).

        + PAX et BONUM

      • EPMS says:

        Glenn Galenkamp should be taken off the list of the Ordinariate- bound as he has recently been ordained and become rector of the ACCC parish in Moose Jaw. At least a half-dozen of the others on that list were also not in attendance. On the other hand, Michael Shier entered the Church in June and was in Houston along with at least one other person from the “undecided” list.

  6. Fr. James Schovanek says:

    Deborah, I agree most wholeheartedly to your assessment of ++Hepworth as a sincere and hard-working chapion of unity. However please note that the Protsmouth document was a petition and when it was answered, there was no corporate agreement on the acceptance of Rome’s terms: each bishop and member church of the TAC was therefore free to accept or reject those terms. If ++Hepworth had any failing in the process, it was not calling another meeting of the bishops to debate Anglicanorum coetibus. Although the Holy Father apparently intended all of us to be united with the Roman Church, the actual result was not without a touch of tragedy. We can now only console our selves with the belief that in Christ Jesus we are all mystically united even though we are still not so visibly.

  7. Foolishness says:

    The way I understood Archbishop Hepworth’s position (and the Portsmouth Petition) the petition did not set terms, only asked for a way to retain Anglican patrimony while coming into full sacramental communion, and the signing of the Catechism of the Catholic Church indicated, or should have indicated, a willingness to accept the ministry of Peter, i.e. the juridical authority of the Pope. Hepworth said after the Apostolic Constitution came out that it was a definitive answer to the TAC request, not the beginning of a negotiation that could be debated and met with a counteroffer. I agree however, there has been much tragedy and sacrifice in the result.

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