Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Archbishop Hepworth and Anglican Orders

Well, I don't like the treatment I have been given for my efforts to give the floor to Archbishop Hepworth, by none other than the man himself. I am still reeling from the results of my recent efforts to let him represent his own position, clear up rumors and answer speculation. Nonetheless, since he has now granted very much the same interview to David Virtue, but allowing it to be the second "first exclusive," I see that one of the particular points the Archbishop made needs the complement of a direct quotation that he had given to me.

First of all, this is from the VOL interview:

VOL: When the former Bishop of London went to Rome, he was "conditionally re-ordained" a priest rather than having to undergo re-ordination. Do you see that as a possibility for the TAC's clergy?

HEPWORTH: The way in which pastoral provision currently works allows Anglican clergymen to tender evidence of the validity of Anglican ordination. In fact, the re-ordination is a response to the circumstances within Anglicanism which vary for good and ill in the last century as Cardinal Kasper recently said, and re-ordination is a necessary assurance to the good consciences of those with whom unity is sought.

VOL: Some fear, if conditional re-ordination is not allowed, that sacramental rites performed by TAC clergy prior to their re-ordination would be considered invalid. Do you see the difference between "conditional" and unconditional re-ordination as important?

HEPWORTH: No. It is important to individual Anglo-Catholics who in practice have responded to Apostolicae Curae by seeking to involve other than Anglicans in their ordinations, not necessarily as a criticism of their own orders but as an act of pastoral generosity towards the wider catholic church.

Add to that what he told me in Timonium, Maryland on July 31st:

Since the issue of Anglican Orders has been raised by reader's comments, the Archbishop had this to say for readers of the Continuum: "We would not be ordaining or saying Mass if we believed our Orders were invalid. That would be sacrilege. There must be room for our conscience."
This does indeed ring true. When he gave me the above quotation, I mentioned to him that Brian Taylor had documented1 the Anglican reason for seeking the Infusion of Old Catholic orders in 1932 via co-consecration, initially in the consecration of Rev. Graham Brown to the episcopate with the Old Catholic Bishop of Haarlem assisting. The purpose was to help make Anglican orders more acceptable to Rome in the event of a possible Reunion, as Taylor documented by quoting correspondence between leaders of the Church of England, including then Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Lang. As I was mentioning this, Archbishop Hepworth nodded his head in obvious recognition of Taylor's work. Hence the words of Archbishop Hepworth: "...an act of pastoral generosity towards the wider catholic church."

This demonstrates, however, an ongoing factor that appears to be one weakness in the whole strategy. These bold steps are being discussed on one end as if only one party needs to be sold this whole idea, namely Rome. I can well appreciate Archbishop Hepworth's generous offer to make the orders of TAC acceptable to the larger Catholic Church, while at the same time insisting that this is not, in any way whatsoever, to be taken as a statement of doubt concerning Anglican Orders. He holds firmly, judging from what he said to me, to the Anglican position as stated in Saepius Officio, and any willingness to submit, in future, to conditional ordinations and consecrations would be simply a gracious act for wider catholic unity. But, now he must sell that to the clergy of the TAC and to the lay people as well. He has already let the cat out of the bag on VOL.

The comparison to the Old Catholic Infusion, though I had raised it myself, is not an exact parallel. Co-consecration did not involve any sort of "re-ordination" or "re-consecration," conditional or otherwise. So, this may be a tough sell in some places.

I trust that Archbishop Hepworth appreciates the helpful clarification I have given here to the answer he gave on VOL, in order to avoid widespread panic; since what appears on VOL may have led some members of the TAC to worry about what he thinks of Anglican Orders (if e-mails to me from TAC people today and yesterday are any indication of facts on the ground) --Speaking of generousity.

1. In his 1995 paper, published in Great Britain, Accipe Spiritum Sanctum.


Canon Tallis said...

And do neither of you know that Marc Antonio de Dominus, sometime Archbishop of Spaleto and Dean of Windsor, participated in Anglican consecrations in the Caroline age before he made the mistake of returning to Rome and their so kind ministrations?

I think someone in the Continuum needs to reprint Littledale's The Petrine Claims and make it required reading for both postulants and the clergy.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Google "The Petrine Claims" and it will come up first on the list as a google book that you can download as a pdf.

Kevin M. Bell said...

Thank you for the recommendation, Canon Tallis. The book is available through Google books as a PDF download. I am an aspirant to the deaconate, and I assure you this will be on my reading list this fall.

D. Straw said...

There are many on the outside of this looking in very confused. You had almost an entire APCK Diocese leave last year because of the APCK's "failure at Anglican unity". Yet...they now follow an Archbishop who says things like, "Our decision has been to pursue unity with Rome in the first instance and to gather those Anglican groups inside and outside the process as it continues." This all seems much more risky than the APCK's intercommunion with the orginal Chambers jursidictions.

Anonymous said...

I hope you have learned your lesson, Fr Hart! No good deed shall go unpunished. Lie down with dogs, rise up with flea(bites).

Anonymous said...

"When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

I think this saying holds a lot of truth in this situation.

Rome is the whale, and the TAC (or for that matter, the whole Continuum) is a tiny little goldfish. If any of the Continuum wishes to be united to Rome, it will be on Rome's terms.

I think Rome will demand that, not just to be hard to get along or bossy, but because they will want any Anglicans joining them to show submission to them. I don't blame Rome in that. They would be foolish to let the goldfish demand the terms by which the whale allows them to swim in the whale's water.

Whether or not they think Continuum orders valid, requiring the Continuum clergy to be either reordained or conditionally reordained will make the Continuum clergy show proper submission.

Looking at it from Rome's point of view, the Continuum has a history of schism piled on top of schisms on top of more schisms. They need assurance that the Continuum is truly submissive or they would be asking from trouble to let the Continuum stick a foot in their door. Looking at the Continuum track record on bishops who can't get along with one another, if I were the Bishop of Rome, I would turn down TACs request and make it clear the only way to enter is John Paul II's Anglican Use Society. The last thing Rome needs is uncooperative bishops who wish to feud.

1928 BCP Supporter

Fr. Robert Hart said...

the Continuum has a history of schism piled on top of schisms on top of more schisms.

I don't know. There was a rocky beginning and a rough ride, but a lot of the "jurisdictions" out there exist only because of freedom of religion. Imitators cause a lot of confusion, and that is the Vagante (or Episcopus Vagens) problem.

Perhaps it is true that the reality is more simple: Maybe there is only one Continuing Church that has been true to the original idea of the Affirmation. But, it is not the purpose of this blog to promote any one jurisdiction; rather to try to unify the ones that have their roots in the same patch of the same garden.

The Shrinking Cleric said...

As someone who is now an ACC priest and originally ordained in the RCC, I have to always be a bit skeptical of any interaction between Anglicans (continuing or otherwise) and the See of Rome.

First, although Benedict XVI has been sympathetic to traditional Anglicans, he has never given any indication that he is willing to reconsider the condemnation of Anglican Orders issued in Apostolicae Curiae. Cardinal Levada and Cardinal Kasper can issue all the statements they wish, but they are not the Pope and, as any can see who has studied Papa Ratzinger, they do not speak for him.

Second, the Vatican has only indicated a willingness to create a "pastoral provision" for Anglicans to return to Rome. This pastoral provision does not contain anything to suggest that those who are consecrated bishops in the Anglican succession would be able to continue as such as Romans. Additionally, the pastoral provision makes no provision (sorry for the repetition) for conditional ordinations and presumes instead to ordain ab initio. That any Bishop would ordain an Anglican sub conditio is probably simply a courtesy to the Anglican. Finally, the late Pope John Paul II probably intended the pastoral provision simply as a way to bring Anglicans back into the Catholic Church. It is probable that he did not intend this provision to continue indefinitely, the intentions of the Anglican Use Society to the contrary notwithstanding.

As to the TAC, I do not know Archbishop Hepworth, but for the reasons stated above I am highly doubtful that any approach to corporate unity with Rome will be successful. Maybe I'm wrong.

A far better approach, I think, is the one suggested by my own Archbishop, Mark Haverland, who has sought to engage Archbishop Hepworth in meaningful discussion over the issues that led to our separation some years ago. That combined with ACC's communio in sacris agreements with both the APCK and the UECNA, would go a long way toward achieving a meaningful unity in the continuing Anglican world. It would further signal a seriousness of purpose to our brothers and sisters in Rome and in the Orthodox churches. Maybe then we could start talking about organic unity.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

...would go a long way toward achieving a meaningful unity in the continuing Anglican world.

I know that, despite speculation to the contrary, Rome really is on the other end of the phone. Nonetheless, I cannot help but see just a bit of a messianic and eschatological language coming from some of the TAC leaders, and it reminds me of prophets from the Charismatic movement. The references to John 17 (that they all may be one) has a sentimental effect; but is a change of venue for one group of Christians the same as perfect unity throughout the whole Church?

I am looking on from the outside from a strictly non-partisan position, having friends in the ACA, wanting to believe only the best. But, I have to step back and ask a realistic question: Has the creation of a uniat (forgive the vulgar expression) ever brought unity to the Church?

If the accord is reached between the TAC and Rome, I pray it will have God's blessing and be an instrument of salvation. I am not their adversary. However, whereas it may create some unity in some areas when it is finally achieved, for now it is already creating division. The statement that only four congregations have left the TAC worldwide is simply not true at all. More than that have left here in America alone.

However, some of that has to do with all the secrecy and what methods of communication have been employed. If they want my advice on anything, it is to let the information flow better, and stop creating what may be unnecessary alarm. What was said about Anglicans receiving any kind of "re-ordination" on VOL is a perfect example of the kind of statement that is far too brief. It reminds me of the king in the book of Esther sitting down to eat while the city was perplexed.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart:

I'm not attacking the Continuum. I am a member of the Continuum by choice.

You'll note that I said: "Looking at it from Rome's point of view....." Those of us in the Continuum know some of the reasons (good and bad) for what has happened. Rome has no way to know that insider knowledge. Looking at it from Rome's point of view, it looks worse than it actually is, as we well know.

I would agree wholeheartedly with the owners of this Blog that legitimate members of the Continuum are limited and do not include all of the various Vagantes.

However, we all have to be honest that originally there was only one Continuing Church that was formed at the Chambers consecrations.

The fact that there are more than that one original jursidiction is due to the sins of pride, sins of seeking power, etc.

If all the effort that has been put into fighting, schism,
and divisive efforts by some (not all) bishops of the Continuum had been dedicated to evangelism and bringing souls to Christ, the Continuum wouldn't be so small. Indeed the Continuum might have grown and prospered by bringing souls to Christ if all that energy had been used for good, instead of divisive actions.

1928 BCP Supporter

Fr. John said...

Here we go again!

This is starting to seem like a Marx brothers movie.

Anonymous said...

Horsefeathers perhaps?


poetreader said...

And what, pray tell, is the purpose of those last two comments? These are substantive discussions of genuine issues. If we are to exist as a Continuing Church movement, these issues need to be faced, discussed, and ultimately solved. They simply cannot be left to take care of themselves, so we are discussing them here. If a solution can be found, we continue as a viable movement. If not, well, then, we will find that the venture is not possible. We have to try, and we on this blog believe it is a worthy effort and expect success.

Now, if you have something to contribute, you are very welcome indeed, even if we don't like what you say, but if your desire is to sneer or to wish failure upon us, we'd prefer that you not pick our 'living room' to do it in. Thank you.

I'm sorry if I seem a bit prickly, but I don't think I'm out of place taking umbrage at such comments.


Fr. John said...


As I recall, your pretty good at sneering yourself when you see something that deserves it.

There is something seriously unbalanced with this whole business. Do you think me unreasonable when I point out that Archbishop Hepworth's recent behavior and public utterances seem, to me anyway, to be designed to provoke controversy, and invite speculation. Perhaps that is not his intention, I do not question his motives or impute his integrity. I have no knowledge to be able to judge those things.

However I do believe that the announcement of this contact with Rome has been badly handled and demonstrates a serious lack of tact,diplomacy, and planning on the part of Archbishop Hepworth.

The fact that Fr. Hart was badly used also does not speak well for ++Hepworth.

I wish we could just ignore the ACA's actions in this matter, but since the continuum's existence presents a confused and puzzling picture to the public, anything they do reflects on the ACC. If the ACA makes a mistake in this matter we will all be negatively impacted, especially in the public eye.

This is starting to look like a public relations nightmare.

Fr. Z,

I was thinking "A Night at the Opera" with Groucho singing "I Must Be Going."

The Parsoun said...

Fr Hart said:
The statement that only four congregations have left the TAC worldwide is simply not true at all. More than that have left here in America alone.

This is an untruth, but one hopes, an unintentional one. There have been many parishes to leave the ACA in the Southeast, most because of an episcopal election in which the loser left and took a third of the diocese with him. The rest left, nearly ten parishes over the years, because of the ordinary of the Diocese of the Eastern United States. This can be confirmed by checking with each rector involved.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, poetreader. That needed to be said.

Back to the topic itself. Christians should always speak well of each other and should be slow to doubt one another's word. One Christian does not call another Christian untruthful without real pain.

But there is a pattern in statements originating with Abp Hepworth.
He, or his spokesmen, have claimed enormous membership figures for TAC, ranging from 400,000 to 700,000.
He has alleged lawsuits being waged against him by the Anglican Catholic Church, which no one in the ACC seems to know anthing about. (If this were indeed a fact, it would be a good reason to have conversations, not to avoid them, with Abp Haverland.)
He has claimed that the Russian Orthodox Church has admitted married priests into the Episcopate. (Dr Tighe has expressed his wonderment at this one.)
He minimizes the attrition which
ACA is experiencing (one 4 parishes!), when the loss of parishes in FL, Alaska, Arizona, TX, NC, VA, and PA is well known. These seven congregations are among the largest of that jurisdiction.
He has related a rather shocking story to explain why he left the priesthood of the RC Church.
Yes, sad to say, there is a pattern here.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I think it is fair to say that Archbishop Hepworth has not been presenting the best Public Relations or sales skills when dealing with his own people; and that may be because he has been concentrating instead on his communications with Rome. The speculation and worry that people are expressing sometimes have their origin in something he himself said or wrote.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


I also like the movie Animal Crackers, (which is where that song is from), and have kept your long quotation for my own amusement. But, alas, we must stick to serious business.

The Parsoun said...

Fr Wells said:
the loss of parishes in FL, Alaska, Arizona, TX, NC, VA, and PA is well known. These seven congregations are among the largest of that jurisdiction.

Again, not true.

Parishes in FL, NC, and VA left because Bp Campese drove them out.

The parish in PA simply died when their rector was called to be bishop out West.

The parish in AZ left because they're protestant.

Finally, the parish in TX left because their new rector converted them to charismatics, and when he lost an episcopal election, they went off to a charismatic neo-anglican organisation.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that we are slamming the ACA here?
He who is without sin cast the first stone.
I can say that there are some very godly men in the ACA. Bishop Moyer is such a man and as my Bishop I submit to him gladly.
I wonder if we are too quick to find fault and accentuate the negatives in others rather than the positives. Is the ACA really just a deformed group of power players who are sloppy publicity interviewees?
I don't know....maybe I am just getting sick of the infighting. I wonder...when the body of Christ fights each other....who bleeds?


Fr. Robert Hart said...

There are many fine clergy in the ACA, and Albion has accepted my suggestion to invite one of them to join us as a blogger. We have not heard back from him yet.

Fr. John said...

Retiring UK Bishop Reveals No Consensus among Brother Bishops over Same-sex Adoption
Loss of confidence and authoritative teaching in all areas has led to general collapse of the Church

Read it all:


Anonymous said...

In the list of seven states where ACA parishes have left, I forgot one, that is, SC. I should have said eight, not seven.

"Parsoun" is not altogether incorrect, and he and I probably agree in our assessments more than we would disagree. I do not recall any "losing candidate" in the "Southeast" taking one third of the diocese away. Did you mean SouthWEST?

The numerous parishes which have fled from ACA-DEUS are a testament to alarm at Abp Hepworth's project. And also Bp Campese has contributed greatly to growth in APA, ACC, and APCK.

As this discussion is refined, it resolves itself into two rather different issues: (1) the rightfulness of the aspirations in many hearts for reunion with the Holy See, and (2) the credibility and competence of Abp Hepworth and the TAC bishops to lead such a reunion.

One thinks of the Obama campaign, which, for all its merits or demerits, shows signs of self-destruction.

Anonymous said...

When people who call themselves "Christians" fight, back stab one another, commit sins of pride, commit sins of seeking power, commit sins of schism, etc.,
I suspect that it probably causes Christ Our Saviour pain, not unlike that He endured on the Cross.

It isn't just the Continuum sniping at one another. We also have clergy in the Continuum who similarly snipe at Protestants, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, etc., in their sermons and in their daily lives. Let us never forget that Christ taught to love one another.

If we want to be faithful to Christ Our Saviour then we need to teach the faith, as the Continuum believes it, without attacking others to do so. Nothing turns off people from churches any more than churches attacking one another from their pulpits. It makes the non-Christians in the world look at Christianity and decide that Christians are hypocrites, and the the whole of Christianity isn't true.

Plus, sniping at other denominations is just plain tacky and makes anyone who engages in such behaviour appear rude and ill-mannered.

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

1928 BCP Supporter

Anonymous said...

It seems obvious to me that Fr. Hart noticed how the VOL interview would colour Archbp. Hepworth's efforts, and wanted to balance it out. From VOL alone we would figure that Archbp. Hepworth might really be guilty of what one chap accused him of (and others in the TAC). I believe a commentor took it that they accept Rome's 'absolutley null and utterly void' line, and called it 'cognitive dissonance.'

By quoting Archbp. Hepworth's affirmation of Anglican orders, Fr. Hart did the man and his followers a favour- one which I don't think he deserved after trashing Fr.Hart's interview and having it abolished. It was rather big of Fr. Hart.

Jay B.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


You seem always to fall in among a bad lot. Most of the Continuers I know are rather gracious.

Anonymous said...

I have to address this one head on:

"Let us never forget that Christ taught to love one another."

I do not think we are in any danger of forgetting this. But "1928 Supporter" and many others like him are in real danger of forgetting that "love" in the NT sense of the word (Agape, not "luv") requires clarity of thought, honesty of expression, and courage in facing real issues.

It is not exactly "loving" to suggest that anyone willing to face up to real problems and issues is an unloving person. And your picture of Jesus (I tell you this in much love) is a far cry from that of the four Gospels, in which He went around calling people "whited sepulchres" or telling them "ye are of your father the devil."

I hope you do not feel that Paul failed in "love" when he rebuked Peter to his face. Or would you suggest that Elijah should have shown a more loving spirit to the priests of Baal?

It is only sentimentality to suggest that non-Christians are off-put by the controversies Christians have among themselves.
Every religion under the sun has similar controversies, usually much more bitterly. This line of argument will only require you to explain why Christianity, over the past 2,000 years, has been so successful in reaching almost the entire globe with the Gospel. How did these "unloving" mean-spirited bunch of grinches manage to make so much headway in sharing their faith?

Steve Cavanaugh said...

I'd like to contribute a few clarifications if I could.

First, ++Hepworth seems to say in the VOL interview that only 4 parishes have left in the last year, i.e., since the meeting in Portsmouth. Fr. Wells is accusing ++H of being wrong (intentionally or not). Have more than 4 parishes left in the last year?

Second, 1928 Supporter says, "If any of the Continuum wishes to be united to Rome, it will be on Rome's terms." I think this is not correct. It seems to me that there are negotiations under way. Those who have studied the genesis of the Pastoral Provision in the U.S. will know that there was not simply a fiat from Rome...Anglican priests were involved in the discussions, as they were in the creation of the Book of Divine Worship. Both Rome and the Continuing Churches and Anglo-Catholic bodies in conversation with her will contribute to the "terms." As long ago as the early 20th century, when the Society of the Atonement came into communion with Rome there was a willingness to negotiate. Clearly, as in any discussion, some items originate with one party or the other, but 1928's phrase makes it seem as though there's a lecturer and an audience. I believe things are far more complex than that.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Wells, perhaps on reflection you would withdraw your rhetorical question to Anonymous,

"Or would you suggest that Elijah should have shown a more loving spirit to the priests of Baal?"

I know that in your cooler moments you would not wish to be so rigid and unaffirming toward those whose Gog-given natures compel them to choose the child-burning lifestyle.

The ancient Hebrews, blinkered as they were by their patriarchal, oppressive, paedicidophobic society and narrow cosmology, simply were not as well equipped as we are to understand that Baal worship, like that of Magog or Marduk or Astarte, is just one among many equally valid paths to self-actualization.

In the cause of furthering the vital search for self esteem, the next generation is a small sacrifice to make.

John A. Hollister+

John A. Hollister said...

Canon Tallis reminded us of that great early-17th Century Anglican, "Marc Antonio de Dominis, sometime Archbishop of Spalato and Dean of Windsor, participated in Anglican consecrations in the Caroline age before he made the mistake of returning to Rome and their so kind ministrations".

The official Roman response to any such reminder would probably be that Archbisop de Dominis's participation in 17th-Century English consecrations -- which on the example of the 20th-Century "Dutch Touch" we may call "the Dalmatian Dubbing" -- "cured" the "defects" in Anglican Orders to no greater an extent that Tallyrand's participation in late 18th-Century French consecrations imported vices into French Order.

That is because the Anglican Ordinal used at the time de Dominis soujourned in England was pre-1662, i.e., still lacked the phrase "for the office and work of a X. in the Church of God".

By the twisted logic of "Apostolicae Curae", even though this phrase is non-essential to the validity of the rite, its omission prior to 1662 rendered the Anglican rite incapable of transmitting valid Orders. Or, more precisely, even though the explanatory phrase was was added to traduce some errors of the Puritans regarding the differing grades of the Sacrament of Order, its addition in 1662 constituted an admission that the rite was, prior to 1662, defective.

So even though a valid Roman Catholic Archbishop participated in 17th-Century English consecrations, those consecrations themselves were ineffective because the rite used to confect them omitted an inessential element.

Hmmm. Something is officially declared to be inessential but its omission makes that from which it was omitted invalid. Does anyone see any cognitive dissonance here?

Perish the disloyal thought. Let us reflect instead on how many demons can dance on the head of Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val.

John A. Hollister+

John A. Hollister said...

A word of caution. Steve Cavanaugh wrote that "Those who have studied the genesis of the Pastoral Provision in the U.S. will know that there was not simply a fiat from Rome.... Anglican priests were involved in the discussions, as they were in the creation of the Book of Divine Worship."

Those who have studied the results of that collaboration will know that the resulting pastiche was based on the highly-suspect and only presumptively Anglican 1979 "Prayer Book". Then, even in that case, the remanants of any recognizably Anglican Canon of Consecration were scissored out and the current abominable ICEL Roman Canons were pasted in in its place.

I have asked some of those with personal knowledge of that process why the original proponents of the Pastoral Provisions settled for such a questionable product; the answer I received was that it was much easier to get that past the Roman censors than would have been a real Anglican service.

To me, that just reaffirms the fear that those who join Romen join only on Rome's terms.

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

There is nothing Anglican about "Anglican Use."

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

The Western Rite Orthodox service (Saint Tikhon's) is far more Anglican, essentially the 1928. Strange (or ironic) that the Romans had to cut out our eucharistic canon while the Orthodox left it 99% intact.

Anonymous said...

I read a lot about Hepworth wanting the ACA/TAC to hook up with Rome. My own parish in Oregon left the ACA/TAC and joined the APCK over this issue. We had no interest in hooking up with Rome, and we made the right choice....