Some of us seriously question the tribunal recently conducted in India by some of the present hierarchy of the TAC. In the blogs, there are essentially two voices still discussing the question, that of Fr Smuts in Hepworth Redux and Deborah Gyapong in The signing of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and By their fruits ye shall know them . . ..
I kept out of the whole thing knowing that there are two clashing interests – one of rebuilding the remains of the TAC on the basis of its strongest elements in South Africa and India, and maintaining the influx into the pro-ordinariate and ordinariate communities in Canada, the USA, Australia and the UK. The former has chosen to scapegoat Archbishop Hepworth, as this seems to be the way of justifying a refusal of the Anglicanorum coetibus movement and attempting to restore the pre-2007 status quo.
I personally do not identify with either side of this dispute, and seriously question the procedure of the trial held against Archbishop Hepworth.
This is a very long posting, so I will put in an insert more tag.
Deborah Gyapongs arguments are cogent, as is that of the lawyer Mourad who commented on Fr Smuts’ blog:
Fr Stephen: Even if Ms Gyapong is misguided in her support for Mr Hepworth, as you will recall from a previous post, the TAC announcement on the outcome of its proceedings against Hepworth raised “due process” issues by reason of the absence of a reasoned decision.
I raised at that time the issue that at least one member of the tribunal which sat in judgement was a lawyer, and not any old lawyer, but one of Her Majesty’s Counsel.
If Ms Gyapong’s post here is accurate in its description of the papers served on Mr Hepworth and the manner in which the tribunal proceeded, then I fear that even more due process issues are raised.
The world was given to understand that the charges to be bought before the tribunal were to do with the malversation of church funds. Now, if Ms Gyapong’s post is correct – and she writes as if copies of the documents will soon be on the internet – then the actual charge was one of: promoting activity contrary to the fundamental declarations or ruling principles of the Concordat of the TAC. That is the kind of accusation that requires further specification.by way of particulars. But according to Ms Gyapong, there were none and she asserts moreover that particulars were requested and not forthcoming.
It is beginning to sound as if Ms Gyapong is in a position to put together a case that a number of the prelates who signed the Portsmouth Declarations had second thoughts and that the proceedings against Mr Hepworth may have been trumped up to provide a plausible excuse for those second thoughts.
If the prelates involved were determined to proceed in a manner so procedurally unfair that it might have been devised by Master Thomas Cromwell, then perhaps they should have added a charge that they only signed up at Portsmouth under the influence of witchcraft.
I am now in a position to publish a letter from Bishop Botterill, because, this morning, I received authorisation to publish something I received last week.
Further to my earlier email, I can now tell you that Bp. Botterill has given permission to make public the information he sent to my wife.
I will also reveal my source, Fr James Shovanek. His wife sent an enquiry to Bishop Botterill regarding the accusations made against the former Primate for which he was to be sentenced to be excluded from the TAC. The response goes some way to giving an answer, that allegations of financial mismanagement were entirely irrelevant and that the issue was something to be dealt with at a canonical level. Surely, had it been about money, the TAC bishops had only to report the matter to the Australian Police with the appropriate documentary evidence.
My Lord Bishop:
It has come to my attention that Archbishop John Hepworth has been deposed and I have certain questions about this, that I would like you to answer:
- What does it mean to be deposed?
- What reasons are there for deposition and who has the power to do this?
- Who makes the decision that a trial (? ) should take place?
- Does the defendant know what the charges are and does he have a chance to defend himself?
- Is this trial by judge and jury or tribunal?
- Are the proceeding available to the public (at least to members of the Traditional Anglican Communion)?
- If I was to meet Archbishop Hepworth on the street tomorrow is he to be addressed as Your Grace or Father?
Thank you for your time and patients
Bishop Botterill responded on 25th October:
God give you peace:
Thank you for your inquiry. Archbishop Hepworth was not deposed. That would suggest that he had been “removed from office”. His Grace resigned as Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion just prior to Easter and the College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion, meeting at Johannesburg, elected Archbishop Prakash (Metropolitan of India) as interim Primate until the full nomination and election process provided for in the Victoria Concordat (the T.A.C. constitution) can take place.
During his Primacy Archbishop Hepworth had publically declared in many media interviews that the T.A.C. approved and ratified the process set out in Anglicanorum Coetibus by which Anglicans could make individual, personal conversions to Roman Catholicism. Archbishop Hepworth did not convene a meeting of the College of Bishops to consider this matter although several bishops repeatedly requested that he do so. After several of the Dioceses and Provinces of the T.A.C. voted not to follow Anglicanorum Coetibus, Archbishop Hepworth took responsibility for the failure of this sincere attempt at unity and resigned.
When the College of Bishops met for the first time since the Holy Father issued Anglicanorum Coetibus they unanimously voted to decline the invitation to become Roman Catholic and wrote to the Holy Father of the resolution of the Traditional Anglican Communion to remain Anglican. Thereafter, and contrary to the resolution of the College of Bishops, Archbishop Hepworth (having resigned as Primate) continued to advocate that our Dioceses be disbanded and that our members become Roman Catholics. He wrote to the bishops and clergy of the T.A.C. urging “loyal bishops” to join him in a new Society of Saint Benedict, dedicated to the implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus. This caused distress amongst some members of the College of Bishops, and seven bishops signed an indictment alleging that Archbishop Hepworth was engaging in activity contrary to the fundamental principles of the Victoria Concordat (which, incorporating the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral mandated intercommunion with other Catholic denominations, but not absorption by them).
Acting Primate Archbishop Prakash struck a disciplinary tribunal, as provided for in Article 10 of the Victoria Concordat and suspended Archbishop Hepworth from episcopal ministry until the tribunal could meet. Archbishop Hepworth ignored the suspension and called a Synod of the Australian Province. This was contrary to the will of the Vicar General of the Anglican Catholic Church of Australia, who, during Archbishop Hepworth’s suspension, was the apostolic administrator of that Province.
The Acting Primate, chaired the disciplinary tribunal. The Victoria Concordat provides that the tribunal shall consist of three members – the Primate, a bishop appointed by him, and a bishop appointed by the accused bishop. The T.A.C. retained solicitors in Australia to formally serve Archbishop Hepworth with notice of the charges and the dates of the disciplinary tribunal. They retained a bailiff who personally served the documents, which included a request that Archbishop Hepworth appoint a bishop to the tribunal, and cautioned that should he fail to confirm his attendance at the disciplinary tribunal (to be held in New Delhi) by a date certain (so that airline arrangements for all concerned could be made) the tribunal would convene by telephone conference and proceed in his absence.
Archbishop Hepworth ignored his summons, did not appoint a bishop to the tribunal, and did not participate in or attend the proceeding. Archbishop Prakash asked me to serve on the tribunal, as I was not one of the bishops who signed the accusation, and as it was commonly known that I consider Archbishop Hepworth a dear friend. The Acting Primate appointed Bishop Brian Marsh, presiding bishop of the Anglican Church in America, as the third member of the tribunal.
When the tribunal met we concluded that Archbishop Hepworth had engaged in activity contrary to the fundamental principles of the T.A.C. and the Acting Primate imposed the penalty of expulsion from the T.A.C. College of Bishops. This effectively means that Archbishop Hepworth may not engage in public ministry within the Traditional Anglican Communion, but does not affect the status of his Holy Orders as a deacon, priest, and bishop. I will accord him the respect due to any bishop of the Church. He has given many years of devoted service to the Church and I pray that he will be able to embrace his retirement from episcopal ministry and turn his energy to his family and his passion for sailing.
In His Love,
The problem is still that of particulars rather than generalities. A canonical trial can only judge precise infringements of precise laws. To a non-lawyer, there is often confusion between moral principles and laws. Law has to strike a happy medium between the arbitrary masquerading as moral or theological principle and legalistic positivism on the other hand. In this case, we don’t seem to have anything precise.
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I will now try to get behind the minds of the accusers in the absence of specifics. So, this is conjecture on my part. First of all, there is no question of money, for if we are to believe Deborah Gyapong, the Archbishop has always been scrupulously honest with money in the TAC and the accounts were properly audited and found in order.
A simple historical approach is seeing the TAC go three ways, the American reaction over the first six months of 2010, the TAC in the parts of the world where Rome was not considering ordinariates and those who resigned from the TAC to be received into the Roman Catholic Church. Technically, once those who were resigning had done so, the remaining bishops could call themselves the TAC, except that it was acephalous – ie. without the Primate.
There were several projects of a College of Bishops meeting announced privately by Archbishop Hepworth. They came to nothing, probably due to dwindling finances and the problem of the American bishops. In hindsight, the greatest error was not convening a College of Bishops meeting when Anglicanorum coetibus was issued in November 2009. In it, it was plain that the whole TAC could not be united with Rome because many of its clergy were canonically irregular including the Primate himself as a former Roman Catholic priest. From November 2009, the only possible way was for the canonical irregularities to be dispensed or for the College of Bishops to agree to a general arrangement like what happened in Canada: a pro-ordinariate group and a group for maintaining the old TAC status quo. Archbishop Hepworth’s only hope was to play the card of humility whilst asking for dispensations from canonical irregularities for himself and others.
If this aspect was not properly attended to, it meant that some of the clergy were expendable. Every time I put the question to my Archbishop (who was my canonical superior of the Patrimony of the Primate), he told me I would be “all right if I was careful about what I said on my blog”. I believe he was in good faith when he said that. He too would not have believed that the Cardinal Prefect of the CDF would be so lacking in pastoral solicitude in his Burn ‘em all and God will recognise his own.
Archbishop Hepworth wanted there to be a two-tiered approach: those ready to go over now and a kind of temporary arrangement for those who wanted to take their time. Refusal of Anglicanorum coetibus was not to be tolerated. This would spell the end of the TAC as a stable ecclesiastical institution. It would simply be, in the Archbishop’s eyes, a kind of “holding tank” for clergy and laity waiting to join the Ordinariates whilst waiting for certain precise problems to be resolved. Rome was not prepared to resolve those problems. Thus those in a “waiting” situation were offered the choice of going now or being “shipwrecked”. For those stricken with canonical irregularities, there was to be no solution with Rome except becoming Roman Catholic laymen.
To what extent were the other TAC bishops aware of the implications of this particular endgame? This might have come out at a College of Bishops meeting in late 2009 or early 2010, and there would probably have been some heated exchanges and the Primate losing control. This is probably what was most feared at the time.
Who was to blame for the failure of the TAC to achieve unity as a complete body? My answer would be to share the blame on Rome for outsourcing the process and putting it under the authority of the Episcopal Conferences, the American bishops for being opposed to the entire agenda and Archbishop Hepworth for trying to keep the whole thing on course whilst ignoring the fact that it was impossible other than by allowing the TAC to be destroyed and the “suitable” clergy to be “cherry picked” in a parish-by-parish approach, received as laymen and re-ordained like the clergy leaving the Canterbury Anglican Communion. The ecclesial approach promoted in Portsmouth in October 2007 clashed with the reality of the small non-ecclesial group approach involving individual receptions of persons allowed to keep their social bonds at parish level.
This tribunal against Archbishop Hepworth has been less an attack against his person but what he represented – hoping for ecclesial union and accepting non-ecclesial small group receptions involving the dismantling of the TAC. Bishop Botterill said that Archbishop Hepworth “continued to advocate that our Dioceses be disbanded and that our members become Roman Catholics“. Did the Archbishop say or write that? Can someone quote him, or was this idea simply assumed to be implicit in what actually happened?
Something else miffed the TAC bishops who got together in March 2012 in South Africa for the purpose of halting the dismantling process to which the bishops seemed to have been implicitly committed by signing the catechism and letter on the altar at St Agatha’s. That was the Archbishop becoming aware of the cold reality of fighting a two-front war: against Rome’s deed of having decapitated the TAC to take in clergy and communities as “spare parts” to mix in with those leaving the Canterbury Communion, and against the “survivalist” bishops united around Archbishop Prakash and powered by Bishop Michael Gill and the Americans.
I had corresponded with the Archbishop much earlier about a “Plan B“, (An unpublished “Plan B” paper) which he said he would not consider in order to give his entire concentration to getting the TAC as a whole through the tunnel. This plan B, according to the suggestion I had submitted much earlier, would have essentially been a “survivalist” plan open to a future negotiation with Rome, inspired by the Society of St Pius X with which there are striking parallels, and involving bishops of a less radical position that that of the three American bishops. By the time Archbishop Hepworth came up with the idea of the Fellowship of Saint Benedict, it was too late. The “survivalist” bishops had already acted and regrouped. The Archbishop was compromised by the unresolved affair concerning Monsignor Dempsey and the water became murkier with the issue of Peter Slipper. The project, if known about in its planning phase, could only be seen as an attempt at “counter mutiny”, a provocation.
Here is an e-mail I received from Archbishop Hepworth on 25th May 2012. There is no further reason for it to be kept under wraps.
My Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sister,
Confidential – not for publication
For some weeks, a number of us (including our founding Primate Archbishop Falk) have been praying and working on a response to the activities of the minority of our brothers who have seized control of our Communion and seek to pervert it to anti-catholic ends. Their actions are already destroying much of our work over the past twenty five years. Our Roman Catholic friends (and there are many, including the new Australian Ambassador to the Holy See) have been dismayed.
The document that is attached is the result of our efforts. (An identical document is attached in two versions of Word.) Neither Archbishop Falk nor I seek to lead this body. We are simply asking two things:
1. Your preparedness to attach your name so that the document can be published among our communities and more widely, and to seek the concurrence of your clergy and people in whatever way might be appropriate to take this proposal to the next stage.
2. To attend a meeting, with a clergyman and lay person from your Diocese or community as appropriate, in England from 9th – 11th October this year, to determine the shape, life and leadership of the Fellowship.
The Rev’d Dr John Fleming, a long time friend of many in the Traditional Anglican Communion, and in his third term with the Vatican-based Pontifical Academy for Life, has been suggested as an ideal person to be the mentor mentioned in the document.
Each of us needs to commit ourselves to the prayerful defence of each other at this time. The Roman Catholic Church needs to know that there are Traditional Anglican Communion bishops still committed to the promises of Portsmouth.
I am prepared to collate the signatures and circulate the document with names attached for you to publish. This is urgent.
I should also wish you to know at this time that Lay Canon Woodman is seriously ill as a result of the stress of the vicious attacks on her and her property by the group led by Samuel Prakash.
This is being sent to the following, all of whom are invited to indicate support: the bishops names will appear as a block, followed by Traditional Anglican Communion clergy and laity; it is not intended to name our Catholic supporters in the published document, but we value knowing you are with us:
Lay Canon Woodman, Dr. John Fleming.
Bishops Moyer, Entwistle, Hudson, Banzana, Kajiwarra, Nona, Garcia, Campese.
Dr Labusga (Argentine), Father Kinmont (VG Australia), Father McManus (England), Father Chadwick (France) And to our former brothers in the episcopate Father Robert Mercer, Peter Wilkinson and Carl Reid, seeking their prayers, understanding and fellowship (will Peter please inform Robert?.
With every good wish,
The plan for the Fellowship was simple, a “survivalist” plan involving cooperation between the “shipwrecked” and those already in Ordinariates in some kind of unofficial cooperation and solidarity in prayer. He was actually explicit that it was not an attempt at founding a new “continuing church”: “We resist the temptation to form yet another church among the myriad and scandalous world of Continuing Anglicanism“.
We are bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion who signed the Portsmouth Petition and the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the altar in the midst of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. We understood then, and continue to understand, that our signatures had the sacred nature of an oath.
We are bishops who rejoiced at the proclamation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus by Pope Benedict XVI, which so amply fulfilled the dreams we had dared to express in our Petition, and the dreams that others had expressed to the Holy Father.
We number among us the bishops and Primates who commissioned, led and supported the cause of Anglican/Roman Catholic unity over the past thirty years, who were supported by their clergy, laity and synods, and who sustained isolation, ridicule and hardship.
We have experienced the difficulties and trauma of the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution, and understand the hurt and frustration of many of our brothers and sisters at this time.
We accept the responsibility bestowed on us by the vows taken at our Episcopal consecration, and will continue to do all that is required of us to sustain those entrusted to our care. We will defend them against those who have chosen to reject those things to which we committed ourselves and our Communion at Portsmouth. This rejection deeply saddens us as we are confronted with a breach of collegial trust, commitment and unity. We are committed to leading the people entrusted to us for as long as that might be necessary, understanding that our own future is not and must not be a consideration in our leadership.
We resist the temptation to form yet another church among the myriad and scandalous world of Continuing Anglicanism. Equally, we cannot in conscience allow those who now repudiate all that we have sought and achieved to go unchallenged.
We have formed ourselves into a sacramental fellowship, under the patronage of Saint Benedict, in order to minister to and sustain each other and those Anglicans who share our desire for the full, global implementation of the Apostolic Constitution.
We pledge to do only those ecclesial actions necessary to sustain our dioceses and communities, to strengthen, enrich and sustain the Anglican treasure that is our heritage and that is so warmly endorsed in the Apostolic Constitution, and to take council amongst ourselves and amongst those whom we lead.
We pledge to sustain the warmest bonds of Christian love for those who have already come into “the fullness of Catholic Communion” under the Apostolic Constitution.
To this end, the bishops, with representatives of their clergy and people, who seek to create this Fellowship will meet in the Northern Autumn. It is our intention to invite a mentor acceptable to us and to the Catholic Church to assist us in our deliberations. This first meeting will determine the minimal structures necessary for the faith, good order, sacramental life, communication and mutual support within the Fellowship.
Actually, as formulated here, I find the intention to be honourable. The Archbishop was aware that he was too compromised to be the one to run this project. He just wanted there to be something, founded in a spirit of love and not bitterness. The embryo project was “outed” and slammed before the idea had time to mature.
I put this stuff out in the name of justice and for the world to see that you don’t set up canonical tribunals without rigorously sticking to procedure and jurisprudence according to the norms of law and usage. Also, a court of law will deliberate about the intentions and mitigating circumstances of the accused. Even though Archbishop Hepworth was absent and apparently did not recognise the authority of this tribunal, there should have been a counter argument as a mechanism for verifying the integrity of the procedure. I would like to see how this pious project was “contrary to the fundamental principles of the Victoria Concordat“, given that the Archbishop would have been lamenting over the ruin of the TAC and that he did not seem to recognise its continuing existence.
Another accusation was having “called a Synod of the Australian Province. This was contrary to the will of the Vicar General of the Anglican Catholic Church of Australia, who, during Archbishop Hepworth’s suspension, was the apostolic administrator of that Province“. Did that synod actually take place? Who was to be involved?
It is of interest to know that “the tribunal would convene by telephone conference and proceed in his absence“.
Does Archbishop Hepworth recognise any canonical validity of the regrouped TAC under Archbishop Prakash? Was the tribunal (held by telephone conference call) conducted in a way that anyone versed in law would recognise as valid according to the rules of evidence and proof? Are these accusations sufficiently specific and demonstrated to be infringements of precise laws? I am not convinced.
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With hindsight, this whole thing became derailed by factors outside the TAC, since it is reasonable to believe that without the TAC, there would probably have been little more than an extension of the old Anglican Use provision to England. Anglicanorum coetibus needs to be carefully compared with the Portsmouth letter of October 2007.
The TAC letter went off in October 2007. It took two years for Anglicanorum coetibus to see the light of day, and it was too general to be seen to apply to the TAC. It took a further two years for the first Ordinariate to be established – with elements from the Church of England. Did Cardinal Levada tell Archbishop Hepworth that the corporate union of the TAC was Rome was a futile illusion and that it would never happen, and that any insistence was only possible on condition of the dismantling of the TAC? Why did the whole process take so long? Was there, in Levada’s mind, a collusion between the problem of canonically irregular clergy in the TAC and the problem of Bishop Williamson in the movement of the Society of St Pius X towards canonical unity with Rome?
When Anglicanorum coetibus first appeared, it seemed to be the Pope’s way of short-circuiting the Anglican Communion and the bureaucracy of the RC Episcopal Conferences, and that he had to back-pedal to meet unknown ultimatums. This slippery character and duplicity is also a factor that destroys confidence and sets mechanism of division into motion.
I see blame attached to all, to Rome for lack of clarity and a pastoral approach, the American bishops for their unwillingness to keep the esprit de corps with the ordinariate-bound and a process of discernment without a priori refusal. I think Archbishop Hepworth could have been firmer in placing priority on the solidarity and integrity of the TAC as a body, and being as uncompromising as Archbishop Lefebvre in his time and circumstances. That is something on which there could have been leverage for negotiation. The questions of Dempsey and Slipper didn’t exactly help matters.
It has also been mentioned that three other things would have helped the TAC: a common liturgy, greater emphasis of the training and education of priests and for the bishops to have received the Apostolic Succession from a more unquestionable source. As things are, TAC bishops are being treated as being just as “invalid” as Canterbury Communion clergy. Solidarity of the whole TAC should have been a non-negotiable condition.
One lesson to draw from all this is that a good end does not justify bad means. Union with Rome is an ideal, but not at the price of human persons and the ecclesial unity of something that was viable and healthy in October 2007. I see good and bad on all sides, and I refuse to attach the entire blame to any single entity. We were all right and all wrong.
I don’t believe the TAC will ever recover its status quo or credibility, at least on the scale of how things were in 2007. I am not of the opinion that bishops, priests or lay people are morally obliged to seek reception into the Roman Catholic Church if they are not inclined to do so. “True church” apologetics are not what is needed, like so many vultures feeding from the carrion of a dead animal. Time alone will tell whether the regrouped TAC will recover its ecclesial meaning, whether Archbishop Hepworth will find vindication in his claims against Monsignor Dempsey and as a priest, whether those of us who are shipwrecked will find our peace in one way or another.
All we can do is look at the sea, the sky and the stars – and realise how little any of us matters. Life is too short.
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Update: Deborah Gyapong has just written Insight into the charges against Archbishop Hepworth. She and I now write from quite different points of view, but her historical observations seem correct. This article should be read attentively as we wait for Fr Smuts to come up with his contribution.
This is how history is written as different notes chime out from the belfry.
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And the “third blogger” has weighed in, as I thought he would, with Still More on Archbsihop John Hepworth….
Fr Smuts rehashes the “guilty as charged” statement without the charges or reasoned conclusions – which has no more credibility now than a few days ago.
That is where we stand at present. There is nothing new to report as yet.
Well, we’ll be glad to know when you do have something to report.