A bruised reed shall he not break

A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he sends forth justice unto victory.

I found these two comments in David Virtue’s most recent posting about Archbishop Hepworth. Whatever his position might be now he is no longer the Primate of the TAC and perhaps may no longer be the legitimate TAC Bishop in Australia, I cannot condone the treatment he is now undergoing.

* * *

St Mary of the Angels Retro ‘80s Revisited: the Roman Catholic Church’s Unwavering Stance on Not receiving St Mary of the Angels Church into the Roman Catholic Ordinariate.

By now the readers of these gossip-filled blogs are aware that St Mary of the Angels Anglican Church – ACA will most likely not be received into the “recent” ecclesiastical structure referred to as the Anglican Use Ordinariate.

Please do forgive my sarcasm in highlighting the word recent. But the RCC has had the Anglican Use Common Identity, and has had promulgated the “Book of Divine Worship” since the 1980’s! In fact the Ordinariate sets up few changes to the original “Anglican Use” picture; namely, the establishment non-episcopal “Ordinaries” for the governance of these churches. These “Ordinaries” are not bishops and in a real sense they don’t even have jurisdiction. Oh sure, they may vest in some of the pontificals reserved for bishops. But like much of broad Anglicanism, this display of colored feathers is simply empty ornamentation. Why? Ultimate jurisdiction always resides in the relationship betwixt local bishop ordinary and priest and cannot come from a simple priestly Ordinariate. In other words, the local Roman Catholic bishop is the final arbiter on all matters ecclesiastical. This last fact is most important considering the history of the relationship between the RCC and St Mary of the Angels. An additional fact which the reader should know is that when the Roman Catholic Church looks at “Anglican Use” they see only a recent (400 years old) aberration of the Latin Rite and not a separate and unique rite. And this is why Anglican Use parishes will always be ultimately subject to the local RCC episcopal authority.

A recent 2012 letter from the Ordinariate to St Mary of the Angels laid down the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has concerns regarding unresolved issues and as such will not be planning reception of the parish within the near future. Implied in the letter is the gracious offer to receive Anglicans into local Roman Catholic parishes.

The letter was to the point. The Roman Catholic Church does indeed have an obligation to impose scrutinia on incoming clergy. And the RCC has a right to ensure that all of the affairs of incoming parishes are resolved before reception.

But the over-riding concern which I do not hear the Roman Catholic Church addressing is the pastoral outreach to the people of St Mary’s. And the sad fact is, this has all happened before with St Mary of the Angels.

I was a lay parishioner of St Mary of the Angels in the 1980’s. Between the approximate years of 1982 and 1986, the parish petitioned the RCC Archdiocese of Los Angeles for admission to the Pastoral provision of the Anglican Use. The Archdiocese kept the parish in limbo until 1986 when they authorized an Anglican Use Catholic priest to meet with the people and their parish priest. The news that this priest brought is that there would be no Anglican Use parish established in Los Angeles and that those desiring to be received into the RCC should be received into the Latin rite proper at their local parishes. The clergy were received in other dioceses and re-ordained.

Fast forward to the present: both the local Roman Ordinary and the Ordinariate have again given a cold shoulder to the parish! True, scrutinia applied to incoming clergy is necessary. True, the financial affairs of the parish must be in order. But the over-riding concern here should be pastoral. The RCC should be reaching out to these people in love.

I am horrified at the way the RCC has conducted itself! Even in the matter of scrutiny of incoming clergy they have handled these men in a careless and draconian manner. It should be noted that few clergy from TAC or any of the Traditional Anglican jurisdictions are being received as priests. These men have served long in the service of Our Lord. Point is, even if they are deemed not ready to assume the RCC priesthood, they should be accorded some dignity. How tragic.

My heart goes out to Archbishop Hepworth in his candid admission of his molestation at the hands of an RCC priest. I was raised Roman Catholic and I too was propositioned by an RCC priest. Archbishop Hepworth needs healing the depths of which the average reader here cannot well comprehend.

I have made my peace with the RCC. In a 2010 pilgrimage to Rome, I had a per-chance meeting with Cardinal Law on the steps of St Mary Major. We greeted each other warmly and extended an embrace. This pilgrimage wrought great healing and restored my love for the Roman Catholic Church. But, it will remain love at a distance. I take my Ordination vows seriously and will continue in my ministry. To forsake my Church would be to forsake Christ.

Hopefully this note will inform many who are confused about the Ordinariate and its origins. Anglicans who have trusted in the Roman Catholic Church have made a painful journey. And I believe it is most damaging to the soul to be forced to choose between one’s faith and one’s practice of religion. May God have mercy on us all.

The Reverend Father Robert H. Greene
Curate, Our Saviour’s Church – Anglican (APCK)
Los Angeles, California

* * *

Father Greene’s comment that +John Hepworth ‘needs healing…’ is one worthy of note to those who in this “coup” have really treated +John in an very un-christian manner.In my own dealings with + John, I have found him to be a very caring and pastoral priest, faithful to his calling as a priest and bishop in God’s Church and brutally honest in his dealings with me as one of his former ordinands. Admittedly my time within the TAC was not of a long duration, but I believe it should be pointed out that his commitment in working towards healing the divisions within the wider Church has been that of one who worked tirelessly towards this end. Richard Burton’s comment is also worth noting. How much longer is +Hepworth going to be hounded by those who wish to see him totally broken?

Perhaps his critics should heed the words of St Paul:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity…”Col.3:12-14. (NIV)

Again in his letter to the Philippians, Paul urges that “Each of you should not look only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus.” Phil.2:4-5(NIV)

How much longer can we as Christians afford to ignore God’s call to be One? As the season of Pentecost approaches let us all pray and earnestly work towards that visible unity within His Church that our Blessed Lord Jesus lived and died for. Perhaps we should also remind ourselves that “The Church’s One foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord…”

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3 Responses to A bruised reed shall he not break

  1. Pingback: A bruised reed shall he not break | As the sun in its orb

  2. Pingback: Archbishop John Hepworth: ‘A Bruised Reed Shall He Not Break’ | Fr Stephen Smuts

  3. James Morgan says:

    I was a member of St. Mary of the Angels many years ago. The church is about six blocks away from the RCC parish of Mother of Good Counsel, run by the Augustinian Fathers. I’m uncertain why the rush to embrace Rome whilst residing on their own turf. (Actually, SMA is a much prittier place than MGC as i recall.) I feel sorry for these people who had their hearts set on a certain conclusion that hasn’t happened.

    Rdr. James Morgan
    Olympia, WA

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