TAC’s Archbp. Hepworth and breakthrough in negotiations with the Holy See

On the site of English Catholic I found an encouraging article about Archbishop John Hepworth of the TAC, Traditional Anglican Communion, and a breakthrough in negotiations with the Holy See for his flock to be united with the Catholic Church.

English Catholic had links to articles in The Australian.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Supertradmum says:

    Archbishop Hepworth is a brave, highly intelligent, and forgiving man. His comments years ago on the reality of the truth of the Catholic Church and the fact that Anglicans frequently backed away from overtures from Rome, and the fact of the failure of ARCIC, gave him a stature above other bishops in being able to verbalize the problems of entering fully into communion with Rome. I, for one, admire him greatly, and sincerely hope that the group, TAC, comes in under the Ordinariate. This would be a great relief not only to that group, who have anxiously been awaiting some type of reconciliation, but also to the liberal Anglicans, who really do not want the TAC around, reminding them of their roots. God bless the road to Rome for all involved. I am sure many others will follow his example. His bravery in revealing the sexual abuse in his past and what type of reconciliation he is seeking shows his heroic virtue.

  2. I just visited the ‘English Catholic’ and have just finished reading an article covering the sexual abuse (Fr) John Hepworth experienced at the hands of Catholic priests in Australia. It is absolutely abominable what he went through. It says at the end of the article that he has been married, divorced, and remarried, with three children. As he was/is an ordained Catholic priest who then left the fold of the Church (and given his experience at seminary, I think you’d be hard pushed to find someone who doesn’t sympathise with his reasons for leaving), he is thus an apostate. Remarried and an apostate, and yet an ordained Catholic priest: this is surely is going to be tricky?

  3. anj says:

    As I read those articles, I was stunned. I wouldn’t wish that level of hell on anyone. May God give him healing.

  4. chcrix says:

    “years later when one of Archbishop Hepworth’s assailants tried to use the Seal of the Confessional to silence him, by confessing the abuse to him.”

    Holy guacamole. I had no inkling of the background here.

  5. jeff says:

    Chcrix: that’s the elephant in the room–how do we know that the abuser confessed to him? Surely the abuser didn’t reveal this information!

    I guess +Hepworth would have revealed it while still an Anglican and technically excommunicated. Nevertheless, revealing confessional secrets can’t be do your case for having your faculties restored any favours!

  6. Supertradmum says:

    As the Sacrament of Confession is not a sacrament in the Anglican Church, there would be no excommunication. As to any Oath an Anglican minister might make, that is another question, as an oath stands separately from the validity of the sacrament. However, we do not know this scenario even happened and seemed contrived to me.

  7. Andrew says:

    Archbishop John Hepworth’s canonical situation is before the Holy See, as he and other Romeward looking Anglicans, prepare to become Catholics, under the provisions of the apostolic constitution Angilcanorum Coetibus. Because of his Catholic background, ordination to the priesthood, taking episcopal orders from Old Catholic bishops (valid but not licit incurring latae sententiae excommunicaiton, ie Canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law), marrying outside the Catholic Church more than once, Rome has a minefield to deal with, in restoring him to full communion. But it has been man through his role as Primate of the worldwide Traditional Anglican Communion, that for many years has had meetings with Vatican officials, to explore the possibility of wide scale corporate reunion, while retaining some Anglican identity. The Holy See responded to this request when the TAC made a formal application to enter into communion with Rome, with the apostolic constitution. So whatever faults this man may have, this has not precluded the Vatican with taking his vision seriously. He says that before he dies he wants to be reconciled with the Catholic Church, and we can only hope and pray that in spite of the canonical difficulties involved, this will happen. What role he will have however, is entirely at the disposal of the Roman authorities, and I would not like to speculate what that might be, and am glad I don’t have to make the decision here, either.

  8. JohnB says:

    I think a couple of things need to be clarified, speaking as an Anglican transitioning to the US Ordinariate. First, Confession/Reconciliation are in fact sacraments in Anglicanism, although their role differs from that in Catholicism: the Anglican conventional wisdom is “None must, all may, some should”. In Catholicism, of course, Confession is required once a year, but is always necessary in cases of grave matter. I don’t believe the policy differs on the seal of the confessional, but canon law in Anglicanism has been enforced in such a loosey-goosey way that I wouldn’t rely on it.

    I’m only a lay person going into the US Ordinariate, but my understanding is that Ordinariates are erected on a national basis, and Archbishop Hepworth’s status is neither here nor there in relation to the US Ordinariate. The process will proceed notwithstanding how the Holy See moves with respect to individual priests. I will say that the Archbishop of Los Angeles has ben extremely welcoming to our parish in its transition.

  9. mrose says:


    Thanks be to God for your intent to come into Holy Mother Church! I just recently was received into the Church, having been baptized Anglican, raised without religion, and then having a “conversion experience” which made me an evangelical, and then studying theology and realizing that “Rome is home.”

    With regard to your comment about Sacraments, I think the point Supertradmum made about Penance is that a ‘thing’ is either a Sacrament or it is not. Anglicans have invalid orders, ergo no Eucharist, and obviously no Penance (which also requires jurisdiction for validity). So while Anglicans of the more ‘traditional’ bent may consider Confession to be a Sacrament, that doesn’t make it so in fact.

    The questions surrounding Mr./Fr./Bp. Hepworth are much trickier. Surely this possible attempt to use the Seal against him by his abuser would’ve happened while he still functioned as a Catholic Priest. Why would his abuser, a Catholic priest, go to someone who had left the Church and the diocesan priesthood to minister to Anglicans, for “Confession?”

  10. Fr-Bill says:

    I can not think of a civil thing that I might say regarding the treatment received by the Archbishop nor the absurd idea that the Roman Catholic authorities should make “decisions”.
    The only tricky part of such decisions would be how to make them while on their knees in repentance.

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