Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Communion has released the following letter on recent developments in the Anglican Church of America:
7th February 2011
Statement on the situation in the Anglican Church in America
I deeply regret the action that has been precipitated by the three bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion in the United States. They find themselves unable to accept the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, and unable to support the unanimous decisions of the College of Bishops of the TAC to “come into the fullness of Catholic Communion”.
This need not and should not be the case.
I have been part of many phone conferences this year with the US bishops of the TAC. I have written to the three dissenting bishops urging them to accept the responsibility that their position entails. I have reminded them that it is not open to a bishop of the TAC to dissent on the major policy of the TAC and remain a member of the College of Bishops.
In a pastoral response to their difficulties, I have established with their consent a grouping of clergy, parishes and individual faithful who have made a firm intention to join the United States Ordinariate on its establishment. I have appointed Bishop David Moyer as my representative for this purpose, and have more recently appointed Bishop Louis Campese to the pastoral oversight of those coming from his Diocese into the Ordinariate.
This use of the Patrimony of the Primate was approved by all the bishops of the Anglican Church in America. It was agreed that those involved could stay in their own parishes, but under the episcopal jurisdiction of a bishop entering the Ordinariate. It is a strictly temporary device to allow those entering the Ordinariate, and those not yet entering, freedom to make their own plans without the canonical harassment that is now occurring.
I also note that ordinations in the TAC (in regions where Ordinariates are in formation) are only occurring at this time to satisfy urgent pastoral needs, and after reference to the Delegates of the Holy See where they have been appointed.
The facts of the TAC acceptance of the Apostolic Constitution in the United States are as follows:
- Six bishops have submitted dossiers (the formal step to seeking ordination in the Ordinariate)
- Sixty one clergy have made similar written submissions
- Twenty-nine parishes have voted to seek membership of the Ordinariate when it is formed.
I have already indicated to the bishops of the TAC that I am calling a Plenary Meeting of the College of Bishops of the TAC immediately after Easter this year. One of the purposes of that meeting is to discuss the ongoing pastoral and sacramental care of those not yet ready to commit themselves to membership of the Ordinariates that are now being developed around the world. A further purpose of the meeting is to discuss the ongoing role of the Traditional Anglican Communion in post-Ordinariate Anglicanism.
That meeting remains the appropriate venue for forming (and challenging) the policies of our Communion.
I must remind everyone of the following:
- Christian Unity is not an option for the Church. It is the will of Jesus Christ, made clear in the Gospels.
- For Anglicans, the healing of the separation from Catholic communion at the Reformation must be the first act of Christian Unity.
- The Church is a living entity: the Spirit-filled Body of Christ, with the means and the mission to discern and proclaim the truth revealed in Jesus Christ.
- Anglicans do not, in and of themselves, possess that means.
- The renewal of the ARCIC conversations and the ongoing work of the Orthodox/Roman Catholic Conversations are evidence of the acceptance of the need to find unity by the historic churches of East and West.
- To be truly “catholic” demands that one is in Eucharistic Communion with the Church led by the successor of Peter. From the most ancient times, that has been the understanding of “all the churches”. The tragedy of Continuing Anglicanism – and indeed of the Anglican Communion – is the absence of Eucharistic Communion with anyone but itself.
It was to carry the dreams unleashed by the first ARCIC conversations that the TAC was formed. Eventually, it grew in grace and maturity sufficiently to petition the Holy See for the fulfilment of those dreams. The petition, with the petitions of other Anglicans, was answered. Anglicans, with their unique Patrimony but with true unity of faith, are now gathering in unique structures.
No one need gather quickly. The gathering will be long, and sometimes arduous. But gather we must.
Each of us can turn to those ahead of us on this journey into truth and unity, and seek help. We can turn to those behind us, and offer help.
It is Christian to help. It is not Christian to hinder.
John Hepworth, Primate