Friday, January 30, 2009

Anglican reunion with Rome?

It was in The Age this morning, but I had already determined that I would believe the rumour of the imminent acceptance of the TAC (Traditional Anglican Communion) as a Personal Prelature of the Catholic Church when I read about it on

Well, it's there now - but it cites as the source of the rumour the same source that I read yesterday afternoon (and the same source Barney uses in The Age): the Perth Diocese's "The Record" in an article called "Healing the Reformation's Fault Lines". I sent it to Marco yesterday for comment (since he is local Catholic expert on these things) and all I find on his blog this morning was a reprinting of an excerpt from the article in The Record.

Now it is no surprise that if news were to break of an imminent acceptance of the TAC back into the Fold, news would break first here in Australia, mainly because the world-wide primate of the TAC (Archbishop John Hepworth) lives here in Australia, in Adelaide.

But the fact is that the Record article cites no evidence other than the talks in the Vatican last October. I guess if you add those talks to the fact that the TAC is certainly going to be received into communion at some stage in the not too distant future, and add that to the fact that this is a really interesting story for those who haven't been following it, but my question is:

Is it news?

[P.S. The interesting thing if the rumour is true is that it seems to imply that the Holy See will accept Hepworth and the other 59 TAC bishops into communion despite the fact that most of them are married...]

Update 30th Jan: Not only has picked this "story" up, but now First Things is running it on their blog (having picked it up from "The New Liturgical Movement" who picked it up from...The Record!)


At Friday, January 30, 2009 8:56:00 am , Anonymous IS said...

Christopher Pearson wrote about this some time ago in The Oz... it's been on the cards since B16s election.

At Friday, January 30, 2009 9:07:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

Why not email the staff at The Record, and check their sources?

At Friday, January 30, 2009 10:59:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Well, that's a good idea, Josh. Didn't think of that.

IS, yes you are quite right about this "being on the cards since B16s election". He made it quite clear on Wednesday at the Audience that he sees his action in regard to the SSPX bishops as directly related to his vocation as pontiff as he outlined it in his inaugural homily.

At Friday, January 30, 2009 11:46:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In any case, the hurdles (divorced, poorly educated, aging clergy who are often very anti-Roman or ex-Romans who left to get married and then divorced) and the lack of a consistent identity for the TAC (liturgical or theological) make this an event in the distant rather than near future.

Maybe this has similarity with the SSPX - the offer itself will force
the TAC (and SSPX) to sort itself out and a group will but not all.

Of course, Archbishop is Hepworth is ex-Roman and divorced.

At Friday, January 30, 2009 12:08:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

They split from Canterbury, not Rome, so there is no "re" to any such union.

At Friday, January 30, 2009 12:27:00 pm , Anonymous rangoon88 said...

Does this mean that they will drop that peculiar Anglican way of saying'holy' and that some of their priests will refrain from wearing socks and sandals.
But on a serious side it shows that people are getting sick of churches trying to be culturally relevant at the cost of their Christian discipleship. As the article says it sets for many millions of anglicans to join the RCC . Rowan worry

At Friday, January 30, 2009 12:49:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

The Record article makes interesting reading.

CDF “has decided to recommend the Traditional Anglican Communion be accorded a personal prelature akin to Opus Dei, if talks between the TAC and the Vatican aimed at unity succeed”, apparently.

So the haven’t recommended the personal prelature; they have decided that they will recommend it in certain circumstances. And what circumstances are those? Well, if the talks aimed at unity succeed.

So, basically, CDF has formed a view about how, structurally, unity could be effected if, hypothetically, there were an agreement about unity. Is there going to be an agreement about unity? Well, CDF aren’t quoted as saying anything about that.

What this suggests to me is that the committee – or whatever - set up to look at structures has formed a view, but the rather more important committee which is looking at building communion hasn’t. So celebration might be a bit premature.

And, reading on, we find that the alternative to the personal prelature which was under consideration was the authochthonous church. Undoubtedly, the TAC would prefer an authochthonous church, so although there is now an outcome of sorts on this particular aspect of the talks, it’s probably not the outcome the TAC hoped for. An authochthonouse church would allow the Traditional Anglicans to continue ordaining married men, whereas I think a personal prelature will not. There’s nothing wrong with a personal prelature – if all the other dominoes lined up, the TAC could probably live with it – but it does suggest that these talks are not necessarily having the outcome the TAC is hoping for.

There are much bigger issues still outstanding. David has pointed to the matter of a married episcopate. This would be a big stumbling block for Eastern Catholics, and of course for Orthodox Christians, with whom Benedict is also very anxious to rebuild communion. And, of course, the Eastern Christians are much more numerous. (For what it is worth, I suspect the “close to half a million” estimate of the TAC’s congregations is the result of a fairly fond view taken by the TAC itself.) And there are other issues; several member churches of the TAC are rather more insistent on their “reformed” status than Dr Hepworth would be.

All in all, I’m a bit surprised to see that David’s view is that the TAC “is certainly going to be received into communion at some stage in the not too distant future”. It looks to me as though there’s a great deal of untrodden road to be journeyed yet, and much of it is not very smooth.

At Friday, January 30, 2009 1:18:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Yes, well, all things considered, I might have to revise my idea of how distant this future might be...

But I think it will happen some how, just because of the good will on all sides in this equation. If we can't get unity when we have good will and doctrinal agreement, what use is there to the ecumenical movement at all?

I am told that another option would be a simple extension of the "Anglican Use". If that were the case, then the TAC would not be received holus bolus - individuals (and perhaps parishes or dioceses) would need to make the step one at a time as they were ready. This seems to me a far more likely way for the whole thing to go.

At Friday, January 30, 2009 3:35:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Would you believe that this story has now finally made the First Things blog? They give the hat tip to "The New Liturgical Movement" who of course got it from...The Record!

Deary me. Talk about rumours and rumours of rumours...

At Friday, January 30, 2009 3:52:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Vox Nova has it to, but they attribute it straight to the orginal report in the Record.

Whether I'm right or wrong in thinking that half a million is a generous estimate, my guess is that the bulk of the TAC's congregants are in the US. It will be interesting to see how this plays now that it has hit the American religious blogosphere.

At Friday, January 30, 2009 5:03:00 pm , Blogger Vicci said...

Further complications?

With the arch-conservative (some have said 'reactionary') AB Burke now appointed to the Signatura, and this:
"Pope Benedict XVI is concerned about what he calls the "almost automatic declarations of annulment under the pretext of no matter what psychological immaturity or weakness."
perhaps the Vatican is retreating further inside the Fortress?

It might not be wise to bet on an early 'storming' of the gates.

Outsiders best try St Marys!

At Friday, January 30, 2009 7:32:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Glad to see that last comment (minus the rude descriptions of Abp Burke) - it is absolutely scandalous and disgraceful how easily annulments have been granted for the most specious reasons.

At Friday, January 30, 2009 11:39:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

A bit of care, Josh. Your host on this blog was a recipient of an anullment - some might cruelly say for "specious reasons"...

At Friday, January 30, 2009 11:40:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Make that "annulment" - I never was able to get the spelling right.

At Saturday, January 31, 2009 3:02:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

No way Dave Boy -- you mean on this annulment thing I'm sentiring with the postconciliar church more than you? Bless us and save us Mrs O'Davis! (Hi, Graham!) When I briefly considered getting married in the "Catholic" church to preserve what my dad's generation, following Chamberlain, called "peace in our time" re family wars, when the chancery heard that my LCMS fiancee was briefly married outside the RCC to a baptised Catholic before, BAM, defect of form, open and shut, next case please!

Of course when I found out I couldn't be married in other than the novus ordo parody of the Roman marriage service I hung up, so I guess you do win in the sentiring with the postconciliar "Church". I'll have to find other ways to get deleted here I guess. (LOL)

At Saturday, January 31, 2009 7:55:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

I was referring to cases in the U.S., David - as if I would imply anything rudely against you!

Quite right, PE - if there be a Catholic party to the marriage, and the two are married in a non-Catholic ceremony, ipso facto the marriage is irregular by reason of defect of form. A Catholic must marry according to Catholic rites (please, no carrying-on about the Novus Ordo again, we get the idea we assure you).

At Saturday, January 31, 2009 8:17:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Judas you guys are a sombre lot -- nobody prodded back with the irony that MY marriage to her was exactly the same defect of form from their point of view?

On the bright side though, maybe I've somewhere along the line incurred a latae sententiae myself. I would wear that bunch's formal declaration that I am not in communion with them as a Badge of Honour!

At Saturday, January 31, 2009 3:45:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Actually, I don't think that technically PE's case was either a "defect of form" or an annulment (see? I got the spelling right!). No annulment is necessary in PE's case since he married outside the Church without dispensation - contrary to canon law (not sure what the exact term for that is). Thus the marriage would not have to be "annuled" (is that the right spelling?), it wasn't in any sense canonically legal in the first place.

At Saturday, January 31, 2009 10:46:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

This marriage stuff gets complicated, huh?

It's actually my wife's situation, not mine, that would have brought it about. I was never married before, period. Years before I met her, she was married for a few months to a lapsed Catholic outside the RCC. So, had we pursued being married in the RCC, that would have made it easy, no messy impedimenta to get into, because the other party in her prior civil marriage was an RC acting outside the RCC.

Had she married another non-RC, the marriage would have been presumed valid spiritually unless demonstrated otherwise. But since she married an RC acting outside the RCC, defect of form, no marriage spiritually took place, as opposed to the form being correct so impediments in the parties must be demonstrated.

The irony then being, we did not do that, we were married by an LCMS pastor, so she married a baptised RC acting outside the RCC -- again.

BTW, I was not Lutheran then. We were going to be married in a non-Jewish ceremony (being a Righteous of the Nations and all) by an Orthodox rabbi (as if there is any other kind) except he got boofed by his congregation for being too strict on kashrut, so we had to come up with a Plan B. Obviously she was not totally in synch with her church (LCMS) then either, so God got a two-fer on the deal.

He can play hardball sometimes!

At Sunday, February 01, 2009 4:51:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Had she married another non-RC, the marriage would have been presumed valid spiritually unless demonstrated otherwise.

You use inaccurate language, PE. It's "sacramentally valid" not "spiritually valid". All marriages have some degree of "spiritual" validity or effect upon the couple. The question involved is the sacramental validity. That's a different question.

At Sunday, February 01, 2009 6:40:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

You are right, sacramental is the correct term for this.

I'll dust off my Roman legalism better next time!

At Monday, February 02, 2009 10:15:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

And that would be "sacramental in the proper sense" too, PE.


At Monday, February 02, 2009 1:21:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

If it ain't in the proper sense, it ain't sacramental -- what other sense does sacramental have?

At Monday, February 02, 2009 9:42:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Back on track... David, I've made contact with the local TAC bishop, David Robarts, and while of course he wasn't going to tell me all secrets of their negotiations with Rome, rather significantly he again directed me to that Record article, which he of all people would know to be accurate, and the source of which he seemed to ascribe to a close and friendly tie between Entwistle (the TAC bishop in Perth, WA, who was consecrated with Robarts in late 2006), and Abp Hickey (the Catholic Ordinary there). Will keep you posted...

At Wednesday, February 04, 2009 12:02:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...


No one doubts that the quest for Christian unity is a worthwhile and desirable objective, and conservative Anglo-Catholics certainly look forward to full communion with the Catholic Church according to the mind of Christ. However, one suspects that the ‘Traditional Anglican Communion’ will be waiting for some considerable time for Pope Benedict XVI to establish it as a ‘personal prelature’ in full communion with Rome.

Currently the only ‘personal prelature’ is that of Opus Dei established by the apostolic constitution ‘Ut Sit’, formally executed on March 19th., 1983 – fifty four years after the organisation was founded by St. Josemaria Escriva, and seventeen years after a Motu Proprio of Pope Paul VI implemented the appropriate decree of the Second Vatican Council which made this arrangement possible. According to Canon Law (297) a personal prelature is not permitted to function unless it has the consent of the local Latin Rite bishop, a situation which is implausible in the case of the TAC.

The prospect of an Anglican-rite ‘Uniate’ Church has already been ruled out by the Vatican. The TAC Primate John Hepworth himself has gone on record as saying that an extension of the ‘Pastoral Provision’ initiated by Pope John Paul II, which created a handful of provisional ‘Anglican-rite’ Catholic parishes in the United States, would be unlikely to work because few Catholic bishops had been prepared to implement it.

It is also entirely unrealistic to expect that the Pope [whose predecessor Leo XIII declared Anglican orders “utterly null and void”] would hasten to accept a group which includes clergy who are not only married, but also divorced and remarried - some formerly Catholic priests [like John Hepworth himself]. This is especially so in light of the fact that the Vatican, after years of complex negotiations, has only just reconciled the four traditionalist bishops of the Society of St. Pius the Tenth [SSPX], who broke with Rome over its perceived departure from traditional liturgy and doctrine following the second Vatican Council. [The validity of their orders has never been in doubt.]

Also, although Archbishop Hepworth has had Catholic seminary training [for the Archdiocese of Adelaide], many of his clergy, ordained in the TAC after the split with Canterbury, do not have sufficient seminary formation or theological qualifications to meet the usual rigorous Catholic standards.

Further, many TAC laypeople are by all accounts far from enthusiastic at the prospect of becoming Roman Catholics - after all they understood they were leaving the strife torn Canterbury-based Communion in order to be authentic ‘continuing Anglicans’. [Some clergy, admittedly, are more eager, encouraged by the hope of attaining some external legitimacy.]

Archbishop Hepworth, despite his apparent inside knowledge of the Pope’s supposed personal support for the TAC proposals, must be aware of all these mitigating factors. It is extraordinary that since at least 2005, he has persevered with his claims of impending recognition by the Holy See, despite the initial negative response from the former Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, Cardinal Edward Cassidy, an Australian, and the unambiguous statement last year from his successor Cardinal Walter Kasper that a mass reception of TAC members is not on the agenda, although individual conversions were to be encouraged.

The cause of reunion with the Holy See, dear to the heart of many Anglicans who struggle on for the time being in communion with the See of Canterbury, is only harmed by claims which stretch the bounds of reality and do little to advance the cause of Christian unity.

At Thursday, February 12, 2009 9:59:00 am , Blogger liturgy said...

Everything you read in newspapers and on the internet is true.
Pass it on.


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