The Anglican Church in America (ACA) House of Clergy, meeting at Our Lady of the Snows, have urged their Archbishop John Hepworth to resign as Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, saying that his attempt to take his flock to Rome makes it impossible for him to continue as their leader.
'It is increasingly obvious to us and those for whom we are pastorally responsible that recent developments have made it impossible for you to continue to function effectively as Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, and that the responsibilities of that office add immeasurably to the personal stress inevitable in your personal situation.'...
I remember a movie in which children in a French school had to make due with a city block, having no gymnasium or schoolyard. In the scene, the Physical Education teacher is leading the boys on a run around the city block, himself in the lead. Bit by bit, in small groups, the boys break off and leave to play hooky while the teacher, running ever forward without a backwards glance, ends up with exactly two of the original class of more than twenty. I thought, "that's Archbishop Hepworth leading his people to Rome."
It was 2008. As of yet there was no Anglicanorum Coetibus. But, I could see that Abp. Hepworth forgot to see if anyone was following him when he made his bold announcements that he would lead "400,000 Traditional Anglicans" into the Church. First of all, the TAC never promised to follow him to Rome. Second, there was never anything even close to 400,000 people in the TAC (never more than about 50,000 at its height). Third, Anglicans have never called the Roman Catholic Church the Church, nor even the Catholic Church. To us, it is a branch of the Catholic Church, and not wholly free from error. It is part of the Church, and we love its people and share much of the same doctrine. But, we also have theological differences.
Hepworth and the few who zealously followed him wanted to ignore those theological issues, with the same careless and unprincipled ecumenism that leads, ultimately, to nothing substantive (like the Charismatic version of Ecumenism in the 1970s). They depended on ignorance among all their followers, which is never a safe bet. Then, when Rome insulted every convinced Anglican with Anglicanorum Coetibus, Hepworth and his Tiber swimmer squad depended on gullibility and uninformed credulity on the part of the whole TAC.
It is notable that the ACA House of Bishops has agreed with my earlier analysis about Hepworth's psychological problems. They wrote to him in their statement,
"There is an urgent need for focused leadership of the TAC at this critical time in the life of the church. For the good of the church and your family, as well as for your own emotional, physical, and spiritual health, we prayerfully urge you to consider submitting your resignation as Primate forthwith."
I had said, "All this time the Roaming Romeward emphasis, in what people joined and contributed to as an Anglican church, was really about one man and his personal trauma." Some of his defenders screamed bloody murder, calling me by "the usual suspects" list of names. Nonetheless, the truth is obvious to the men who bear responsibility for souls under their pastoral care as bishops. The good thing is, they are doing their duty.
Let us hope, with this Roaming Romeward effort to convert them out of the way, the TAC will be a full partner in unifying the Continuing Anglicans back into one big family.