Statement from TAC Primate

18 05 2011

Statement from TAC Primate, John Hepworth

I am grateful that Archbishop Collins has published a statement clarifying the implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus in Canada.

My letter to Bishop Peter Elliott was a private communication on the eve of his current trip to Rome. Besides being the Delegate for Australia, Bishop Elliott has been requested by Cardinal Levada to liaise with me on Ordinariate implementation concerns of the Traditional Anglican Communion,

I very much regret the publication of this letter and the anguish caused to many of those involved in the process of discernment that confronts each of us as the Anglican Ordinariates are formed.

Australians engage in robust debate with each other. Bishop Elliott and I had an exchange of letters in July last year concerning almost identical issues to those that have recently arisen in Canada. Australian forthrightness is not to be confused with anger.

My task is to ensure that those in the TAC “who desire to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church in a corporate manner” (Introduction, AC) can do so. I must also ensure that the integrity of assets and trusts that have been gathered with great sacrifice by those departing from the Anglican Communion in the past thirty years are dealt with legally and in conformity with the intentions of those who administer them.

As Archbishop Collins notes, the TAC in Canada has a corporate and ecclesial structure. It has bishops and pastors who are responsible in conscience for the souls committed to their care. Until the Ordinariates are proclaimed, the TAC bishops and the CDF Delegates have to discover working relationships in each country where they are seeking an Ordinariate. Far more significant than issues concerning assets is the pastoral responsibility of the present pastors for their flocks.

As unity becomes a reality, new and potentially challenging relationships must be formed. In a number of countries, TAC bishops and clergy are having to discover concrete ways of sharing their responsibilities with Catholic Bishop Delegates, priest mentors and a wider public that is following the evolution of Ordinariates with emotions ranging from admiration to alarm.

Each of the Ordinariates being formed at present poses unique problems. The Torres Strait, where the Bible is still being translated into the three indigenous languages and where decision-making is a long and detailed process with whole Island communities, is not Canada. And Australia, whose constitution forbids the “establishment” of any religion, is not England, which has an Established Church.

I should also make clear that in the original memorandum on which the Canadian bishops sought my advice, most of the matters raised by the priest-mentor in question were entirely fair and in accordance with Anglicanorum Coetibus. The difficulty was created by quite specific points.

Doubtless there will be further details that need clarification in the months ahead.

I have today advised the TAC bishops of Canada to resume the mentoring visits by local Catholic priests.

+John Hepworth