"Because it is new Rome, the bishop of Constantinople is to enjoy the privileges of honor after the bishop of Rome." First Council of Constantinople (381 AD), Canon 3.
It would seem that Abp. Hepworth has a peculiar notion of Universal Consensus. If he is going to berate and bully the three ACA bishops who, true to their consciences, cannot plunge into the Tiber under the terms of Anglicanorum Coetibus, he could at least abstain from fantasy. What he calls the universal teaching of East and West, in the context of his letter, does not exist. The bishops of the Orthodox Church could no more agree to the terms of the new Roman Constitution than could any knowledgeable Anglican. Of course, not the parts about Holy Orders and Absolute or Conditional Ordination which do not apply to them as individuals, but the underlying idea that the Papal Communion (i.e., the Roman Catholic denomination together with the "Uniate" churches under the Pope) is The Catholic Church, or that the Pope has Universal Primacy other than the purely honorary recognition given to Rome during the Post Constantine era of the Roman Empire (yes, Virginia, the empire was the issue), as expressed in the Councils of Constantinople [I], Ephesus and Chalcedon (but not in the Ecumenical Councils that followed, nor in Nicea I).
Neither could the Eastern bishops agree to some of the other doctrines in The Catechism of the Catholic Church that was released under the Papal imprimatur of John-Paul II, such as, for example, the Treasury. If Hepworth is going to imply that anyone is guilty of heresy for not agreeing with some College of Bishops that teaches "the universal teaching of the East and the West," he must stand accused himself. For, all he has done is choose the West over the East.
His reference to some universal teaching of East and West, however, cannot include distinctive doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, inasmuch as Anglicans, and only Anglicans, teach "the universal teaching of the East and the West." That is because we know the boundary lines of what truly constitutes "universal" without having to insist on any later additions and partisan innovations. Helping both Rome and the Orthodox rediscover that universal teaching is our own gift to the wider Catholic Church, a gift that Hepworth's agenda would forever destroy (Are you reacting inside? If so, why do you hang your head in shame? Who told you, dear Continuing Anglican, that your place in the Church Catholic is inferior? What? Did you not believe that being an Anglican was worthwhile?).
In his Open Letter, Hepworth went on also to say: "The Traditional Anglican Communion is not a Protestant ecclesial body. In a television interview in Canada several years ago, I said that the most difficult thing that each of us would face in the pathway to unity would be shedding ourselves of the question 'What do I think?' and instead asking, 'What does the Church teach?'”
This, though worded ever so smoothly, is actually an out and out attack on Anglicanism itself, charging it with being a sectarian movement outside of the Church altogether. He has reworded the sentiments of Newman the convert, rehashing the old silliness about some thing called "private judgment." In fact, anyone who has no "private judgment" cannot be a Roman Catholic anymore than an Anglican, or for that matter any kind of believer, because he cannot have a functioning mind. That is because, without skepticism we can have no genuine faith, but only a robotic anti-intellectualism that faces no honest question, and that faces no question honestly.
Furthermore, discerning what the Church Catholic teaches requires that we discern what it taught from the beginning, and a willingness to discard innovations that contradict or obscure the genuine Apostolic witness of the ancient Church. This brings us to Hepworth's line, "The Traditional Anglican Communion is not a Protestant ecclesial body."
One anti-intellectual, anti-educational bit of prejudicial idiocy that I have addressed here several times (especially here and here), is a modern brand of "Anglo-Catholic" (as opposed to real Anglo-Catholic) knee-jerk reaction against the word "Protestant." Like most of his bullying pontificating, Hepworth's offensive and bigoted use of the word "Protestant" merely shows that he has no idea of what constitutes the ABCs of Anglicanism. No wonder he can dismiss it all, and try to find his way back to where he came from (but only on some terms that he finds agreeable to the life he has chosen).
For educated Anglicans, however, the kind of Protestantism we embrace is the truly Catholic kind, "more Catholic than the Pope." It is to return to the teaching that truly is Universal because it is ancient and Biblical, the true witness of the Apostolic and Patristic eras. And, it is truly Catholic, for it is genuinely According to the Whole revelation from Heaven.
For now, as long as Abp. Hepworth remains in a church that is western and non-papal, he is a Protestant himself. He may not like it, and if he does not like it, he needs to act on his convictions. But, his stated ignorance about Anglicanism, which ignorance has become offensive due to his repeated public misstatements, should cease to be an influence on people who got into this whole thing because they embraced The Affirmation of St. Louis. They do not need some ex-Roman Catholic priest beating up on the Anglicanism they Continue, and insisting that they all convert to the denomination he himself left decades ago--apparently to get married as a priest without laitization.* If he has buyer's remorse, let him go back where he came from, and accept his laiticized status gracefully, instead of beating up on people who have resolved to be Continuing Anglicans due to honest conviction.
The quotation of Canon 3 from Constantinople I (above) is often taken out of its historical context. It sheds light on the whole idea of Rome being first in honor, which grew into the idea of Universal Primacy that was rejected by the Church in 1054, and clung to only by Rome.
The notion of "The See of Peter" is historically dubious inasmuch as his arrival there appears to have been a visit to a fully functioning Church, an established Church to which St. Paul had sent an authoritative Epistle (you will find it in the Bible), and to have constituted a brief visit before his martyrdom around the same time as Paul's martyrdom in the same city. Neither of these two Apostles founded the Church in Rome, and, obviously, somebody had been pastoring the Roman Christians before either Apostle showed up. There was no See of Peter in Rome, neither was there a "double Apostolic foundation" inasmuch as both men visited an established Church.
Canon 3 of Constantinople I, therefore, should be read in its historical context, and should also shed light on the whole idea of Rome's position as first in honor. What honor? The honor of the Church for spiritual reasons? If so, why was the new city of Constantinople, built by an Emperor and named after him, given a position of honor as "the new Rome" rather than for a spiritual reason? Only in the political context of the Empire was it the new Rome. The whole context and the wording of Canon 3 indicates a historical association in a political structure that no longer exists, not some eternal order established by God for His Church to be carried on until Christ comes. We have good reason to question the entire idea of Rome remaining first in honor as if the notion was a doctrine that had been revealed from Heaven, or as if it was any sort of doctrine at all. It seems quite clear that such an idea had nothing to do with the meaning of the bishops who met in Ecumenical Council.
* Earlier, in my haste, I had said "without going on unemployment." This was too harsh in how it came across. We should have no moral objection to a RC priest looking good and hard at Continuing Anglicanism because he is faced with the dilemma of choosing between marriage and a life of celibacy that he no longer believes he is obligated to. If the Anglican solution fits his conscience, in terms of what he has come to see about life, about himself and about God's commandments as opposed to man made traditions, then he ought to practice his ministry in a manner of life that can be lived righteously before God without undue temptations. This ought to include the conviction that Anglicanism is a valid way to be Catholic.
The problem in Abp. Hepworth's case is that this conviction appears to have been lacking all along. His public statements about Anglicanism demonstrate that he has no true understanding of it, which in turn means that he could not have had the necessary conviction from the start. His words are not those of a man who once learned (about Anglicanism) and forgot, but of a man who did not learn.