Monday, March 21, 2011

African bishop defends and supports American "dissenters"

The never ending soap opera of division and strained relations caused by the Archbishop of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), John Hepworth, has resulted in a very open letter from their own Right Reverend Michael Gill, Bishop of Pretoria and Southern Africa. It was posted by David Virtue on VOL. In it, the African bishop writes to support and defend Rt. Rev. Daren Williams, Rt. Rev. Brian Marsh and Rt. Rev. Stephen Strawn (Anglican Church in America, ACA), who together had been the subject of public attack from Abp. Hepworth via certain blogs. These bishops had been attacked for their decision to abide, each one, by his own conscience by refusing the "offer" to join the new "ordinariate" that may (or may not) be established in the U.S. under the terms of Anglicanorum Coetibus

Bishop Gill has called this attack "trial by blog," naming quite specifically the chief offenders among bloggers, and accusing Abp. Hepworth of abusing the opportunity provided by these direct public forums. 

Bp. Gill writes: 

As far as we in the CoB (College of Bishops) are aware, The Messenger Journal remains the official forum to disseminate TAC information. The College of Bishops has never ratified either the Anglo Catholic blog, nor Catholicusanglicanus as an official mouthpiece for the TAC, despite the Primate using both as such from time to time as it has suited him. Much of the "correspondence" addressed to you and ostensibly copied to the TAC College of Bishops, appearing on those blogs, has never arrived in our email inboxes, nor ever been received in hard copy. The so-called recipients would therefore never even know that the letters exist. 

He writes as well that the TAC "Patrimony of the Primate" rule that has been invoked by  Abp. Hepworth lacks the authoritative status attributed to it by Hepworth. 

I am also aware that you all agreed to the "Patrimony of the Primate" proposal from Archbishop Falk and Archbishop Hepworth in your House of Bishops, to function under Bishop Moyer, but the application of this dubious innovation seems to have been seriously divisive. The subsequent foundation of a 'Pro-Diocese' under Bishop Campese in the USA within the Patrimony of the Primate is particularly worrying to me as a fellow TAC Bishop Ordinary, as our TAC Concordat requires that any new Diocese go through the College of Bishops for approval and discussion. 

Here, on The Continuum, we have posted our own criticism of Hepworth's high and heavy handed treatment of Bishops Williams, Marsh and Strawn, and of the potential dangers of the highly divisive, entirely uncatholic and innovative TAC version of "Patrimony of the Primate." All the way back in September we posted defense and support of the three ACA bishops offered by the Chancellor of the Anglican Catholic Church, Original Province (ACC-OP), Rev. Canon John Hollister (his Open Response). I have written about the intrusion into parish unity and the utter chaos that the TAC "Patrimony of the Primate" threatens to unleash, most recently in February.


John A. Hollister said...

Since Fr. Hart has, inadvertently I am sure, "outed" me, I wish to make it clear that my last September's comments, to which his article refers, were personal observations, made in my private capacity. They had, and have, no connection with my purely advisory position in my own Communion and do not, in any way, reflect the policies of that body.

That is to avoid any confusion on that point that my name was not attached to them at the time they were originally published.

However, that having been said, I stand by what I then wrote. Nor do the recent, and rather rushed, (as well, of course, as sacrilegious) reordinations of some former C of E clergy alter my expressed belief that, for the bulk of the people who enter the Ordinariates, their pastoral care for quite some time to come will be in the hands of consistently Roman, not former-Anglican-now-Roman, ministers.

John A. Hollister+

John A. Hollister said...

On the Virtue Online site, one of the commenters on Bp. Gill's letter asks, "Did any of them or their clergy explain the pros and cons of the Ordinariate?"

One is ineluctably reminded of what happened when a senior priest of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada tried to explain to his people the pros and cons of the Ordinariate -- he was summarily excommunicated.

John A. Hollister+

Anonymous said...

What about those 700,000 Anglicans who were lining up for the grand march across the beautiful bridge so generously built by Pope Benedict XVI? This whole affair has become the mother of debacles.

RC Cola said...

The only way to have any peace is to let those who want to go, go; those who want to stay, stay. And everyone should wish the other well--even if after the hand shakes are over, each says to his friend, "Can you believe he chose [the opposite choice]? He's nuts!"

I just hope that the TAC/ACA/whatever bishops are kinder to each other and to their parishes than the Episcopal Organization has been to its people (i.e. no bloody law suits to steal the other's land). So far it doesn't look good.

AFS1970 said...

It is interesting to see that this is not just a (North) American thing. That there are others who see the TAC actions for what they are.