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Ordinariate talks stall in Canada

As the ordinariate for England, Wales and Scotland makes progress, the TAC’s leader warns it could be the first and ony such structure for former Anglicans in the world

By on Thursday, 12 May 2011

Diaconate ordinations for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (Photo: The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham)

Diaconate ordinations for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (Photo: The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham)

As the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has been gaining deacons in the last few weeks and continues to take shape, expectant eyes begin to focus on the other side of the Atlantic. A decree establishing personal ordinariate for the United States is rumoured to be announced any day now. Things are looking good for the further implementation of the Pope’s 2009 Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus which reached out to Anglo-Catholics.

But this morning we learned that the leader of the Traditional Anglican Communion has thrown his toys out of the pram and warned that the British structure may well be the first and last ordinariate, as negotiations in Canada have come to a standstill.

Archbishop John Hepworth – a flamboyant and outspoken former Catholic turned Anglican who leads the TAC – wrote a letter to Bishop Peter Elliot, a former Anglican who is the Vatican’s appointed delegate for the Australian ordinariate, in which he accused the Vatican’s Canadian point man for the ordinariate of derailing the process. He said he would put talks with the Church on hold. He added that the Canadian development would have an effect on the potential establishment of ordinariates around the world, including in Australia. The TAC is the largest umbrella group for Anglo-Catholic continuing churches around the world who have broken with the Anglican Communion.

He wrote: “I warned you last July that the English Ordinariate may well be the first and the last. That outcome is now more certain.”

The Canadian situation, like the States, is somewhat complicated. Not only is it an alphabet soup of different acronyms for various continuing churches, but there is also internal dissent over the decision to take up the ordinariate.

Added to this, the Church has decided to adopt the process that was used for the ordinariate in Britain, namely requiring the clergy submit to its dossiers for approval and having the people begin a Eucharistic fast while receiving formation and asking them to worship alongside local Catholics. One difference between Britain and Canada (and the United States) is that many of the groups own their buildings, which understandably makes the idea of worshipping in the neighbouring Catholic parish less appealing.

Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, who was appointed to be the Vatican’s delegate to the ordinariate appointed mentor priests who were due to visit the parishes this month. Before Archbishop Hepworth’s letter was made public, the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, a member of the TAC, asked for these visits to be put on hold.

The TAC’s chief gripes seem to be the idea that these Anglican parishes would be closed for the period preceding reception, that the clergy formation has been considered inadequate by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and that the TAC must cede its property to the ordinariate:

Archbishop Hepworth wrote:

“These priests are to announce, on behalf of Archbishop Collins, that the parishes will close forthwith, that the laity and clergy will attend a Catholic parish for from four to six months, that they will not receive the sacraments during this time, that they will be catechised adequately during this time since any catechesis from the Catechism of the Catholic Church done by the Traditional Anglican Communion is inadequate because only Catholics understand the Catechism, that the dossiers submitted by Traditional Anglican Communion clergy show an inadequate training since they have not attended Anglican Communion Theological Colleges, and therefore those selected by the Ordinary and approved by the CDF will have to attend a Catholic Seminary for an as yet unspecified time, at the end of this process, new parishes for Anglicans along the lines of the Anglican Use in the United States may be established, but not necessarily in the former Traditional Anglican Communion churches, and that during this process the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) must cede its property to the Ordinariate.”

Given the situation, there is some speculation that Canadian groups still wanting to take up the ordinariate despite the TAC grumblings may be included in a US ordinariate. Archbishop Hepworth’s railing seems unlikely to derail American progress. The new ordinariate does not appear to be dependent on the TAC’s good will as it is set to include already existing Anglican-use parishes which had taken advantage of the already existing pastoral provision as well as individual groups of continuing churches.

  • Andrew Godsall

    From what I’ve read on the Anglo-Catholic, this former Catholic priest, TWICE-divorced, had ideas above his station. He thought the Vatican were going to make him some sort of roving ambassador/bishop. He knows full well that divorcees, twice in this case, had no chance in hell of being ordained a Catholic priest, let alone monsignor. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  • Heartsick Anglican

    Correction Mr Godsall, Abp Hepworth is twice married, Divorced once,
    The document Anglicanorum Coetibus is unambiguous, but when interpreted by Abp Hepworth becomes unrecognisable.
    He is not worthy of the trust placed in him by the members and clergy of the TAC.
    We had been grossly misled and kept in the dark as to the true facts.
    He should do the honorable thing and, together with his Lay Canon, offer their apologies for the shocking and, frankly, unchristian and uncharitable way they dealt with God’s people and forthwith tender their resignation.

  • Anonymous

    I think a rush to judgement against Abp. Hepwoth may not be appropriate. I am personally in no position to defend Abp. Hepworth’s past history — nor to condemn him, as few of the things I have seen written against him have included substantiation. I have met him, in fact I had breakfast with him once, and we discussed the constitution. Whatever his past history, or his private faults, I do know he has publicly done a lot to make the apostolic constitution happen, and that he has publicly stated that he is willing to give up his own ministry in order to further it.
    Nor does it appear that he is deserving of such opprobrium in this case. I am not in possession of all the facts, but from what is reported it appears that the process offered would have effectively destroyed these communities, which is hardly the intent of Anglicanorum Coetibus. The situation is entirely different in Canada, and what would seem a reasonable approach in the UK, where folks do not have buildings etc. in place, would have very different consequences there, where they have had to sacrifice to build things up from from scratch, and where their liturgical style is even more removed from that of the ordinary Novus Ordo parish than in Britain.
    We are not in possession of all the facts, and so we do not know what Abp. Collins was thinking, but on the face of it Hepworth has some legitimate concerns. These were conveyed in a letter that was supposed to be private. Excerpts were made from this letter, commentary was added, and the letter was published, not by Hepworth, but by David Virtue, a man who is very anti-Catholic and anti-ordinariate. If Hepworth might be criticized for anything in this case, it is putting his raw sentiments at a perceived injustice on paper when discretion and moderation might better have served him, — and perhaps a phone call or a face to face visit. So to attack Hepworth like this, on this issue, seems to me excessive. If you want to give anyone a hard time, it is David Virtue. Overall however, I think attacking anybody is a distraction from what God wants us to do. As for this situation, perhaps the most Christian response would be to let these issues work themselves out, reserve judgement until all the facts are known, and carry on with one’s daily work and prayer, especially for the success of Anglicanorum Coetibus.

  • Matt

    Correction, Heartsick Anglican, he is once married, once divorced. Nobody can “twice marry.” He is married to his first wife, whether he civilly divorced her and attempted a second “marriage” or not.

  • CT

    Actually, he could not even validly attempt a first marriage, as he was still an ordained Catholic priest who had not been dispensed from his vows of celibacy, but chose to join another ecclesial community.

  • Fr Levi

    Well, if he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest then there is no question of his having to be ordained – ordination is an indelible sacrament and can not be repeated.

  • Fr Mark

    The Vatican authorities still insist on reordaining “absolutely” those who have already been ordained as priests in the Anglican Communion.  This is a complete disgrace.  There is no way to objectively know that Anglican orders are “null and void” and the theological arguments underpinning “Apostolicae Curae” are highly dubious from a proper Catholic understanding of “intention”  –  a point which which the Church of England archbishops of the time more than ably argued.  If former Anglican priests must be reordained to remove any doubts then it should  –  for both moral and theological reasons  –  be “conditionally” in all cases. 

  • Robert Ian Williams

    The telling factor is not Hepworth, but the fact that the clergy of teh tAC are not properly trained. Furthermore there are so few of them . I estimate that in Canada and Australia there are less than 300 active adherents. In England less than a 100.

    The lies that there were 400,000 were bought by the Media, and now they are being shown for what they are.

    In the US two of the three Episcopal parishes ( out of 7,000) wishing to join are locked in terrible legal battles.

    The whole thing is a disaster.

  • Heartsick Anglican

    The telling factor is ABP HEPWORTH.
    He assured and reassured everyone that “it would be business as usual”.( Verbatim quote.)
    He insisted that no reordination would be required.
    He even denied that chrismation would be necessary.
    According to him everything, including clergy training and qualifications, was up to par.
    Until people took off the rose tinted galsses and cautiously started to analyze and enquire.
    What happened then? They were summarily given marching orders.
    Imagine the shock when the truth finally dawned…………………..
    Not fair that he witheld the facts. He knew all along, but bullied all and sundry into submission.


  • Alban

    You have got your facts wrong, Andrew Godsall as others have also observed! I don’t give a tinkers curse what the Catholic church says about divorced men not being eligible for ordination; there is such a thing as an innocent party. It is high time in this the 21st century that the sacrament of reconciliation really means what it is supposed to mean and with no exception.

  • Steve Cavanaugh

    The assertion in the article that the Canadian situation is  “an alphabet soup of different acronyms for various continuing churches” is just plain wrong. There are only two groups in Canada that are looking to enter the Ordinariate (which is not yet set up): the TAC-affiliated ACCC and a one or two parishes of the Anglican Church of Canada (the Canterbury Communion Anglican church).

    Mr. Williams assessment that the entire enterprise has been a disaster is based on his own (inaccurate) estimates of numbers (there are at least 30 parishes & missions in the ACCC — do they have 10 or less people per parish? Hardly.).

    The idea expressed in the article above that the Ordinariate in the US doesn’t depend on the TAC’s good will is misleading; of course, the Holy Father can erect an ordinariate without the TAC, but as the TAC churches make up the majority of those Anglicans who have petitioned for entry into the Church’s communion, it would make little sense to set it up for the sake of the Pastoral Provision churches alone.

    As for Archbishop Hepworth, all I know of him for sure is that in person he was a gracious man; and that he has stated publicly that if he needed to step down and not exercise ordained ministry he would do so; his efforts to shepherd the TAC into unity with the Catholic Church have not been about how he would get something for himself.

  • Little Black Censored

    I believe Michael La Rue & Steve Cavanaugh have it right. From my knowledge of John Hepworth, some of the things said about him in previous comments are not fair – and he was certainly not looking for any glamorous position for himself.

  • LBanda

    Attacking the messenger distracts from the real issue, which is whether these conditions are likely to be acceptable to the ACCC, whose members, unlike those of the CofE entering the Ordinariate, have been emotionally and financially invested in the project of their continued existence for many years.  The estimate of an average of 10 members per parish is probably accurate, BTW.

  • PereD

    There are 29 parishes currently listed in the ACCC. Of these, 4 are ‘house chapels’ , 1 has a congregation of one or two parishioners,  five have a congregation of less than 10 reasonably active members. There are some 15 parishes with a congregational membership of over 10, with most having around 20 – 25 members active.
    Of the clergy, a significant number are over 65, many retired from the Anglican Church in Canada, with others having theological training through the ACCC theological college – distance learning. 
    10 parishes either left or were formed from those leaving the ACCC as, in  the words of Archbishop Collins,  ‘For those who disagree with recent trends in Anglicanism, but who do not want to become Catholics, in communion with the Pope and accepting the whole faith presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, there are various other options; they clearly would not want to join an ordinariate established according to Anglicanorum Coetibus.’ Of these ten parishes, 8 are under the patrimony of the Primate of the Anglican Catholic Church OP, two with the Anglican Province of Christ the King.

  • Fr Stephen Hill

    Still at it Lina?
    I thought getting thrown off a few other blogs for persistent trolling might have slowed you down?

    This has nothing to do with conditions. It is all about ensuring that the Apostolic Constitution is not reinterpreted using an alien hermenuetic, which many have sought to do.
    Contrary to the spiel of career trolls, the hermeneutic presented by Archbishop Hepworth is in fact in accord with the sense in which the AC was written. 

  • Fr Stephen Hill

    All valid points Father, however they mean that you are establishing yourself as judge.
    In these cases it is the Church who judges, not individuals.
    It can never be a sacrilege to that which the Church asks, so while not disagreeing with your points, I say “Let it be done to me according to thy word.”
    If the Church judges that I am to be reordained, then I will joyfully submit to the will of Christ.

  • Fr Stephen Hill

     The fact that you make these allegations behind the cloak of secrecy speaks for their value…

  • Anonymous

    Fr. Phillips has spoken to Abp. Collins, and published it all on the Anglo-Catholic, here: .  To quote part of this:
    “Archbishop Collins called me after all this broke out in the media and on the blogs, so I had the opportunity to ask him directly about these things. Did he really issue these orders? Were they presented to the members of the ACCC with his approval?
    The short answer is, “no.” He told me quite plainly that it wouldn’t have entered his mind to suggest that the ACCC parishes be closed down. He has no intention whatsoever of telling those who are Ordinariate-bound that they must attend the local Catholic parish. He knows that people are being catechized now, and that will continue, with the mentor-priests being available to help. It’s not the intention of the archbishop that the mentor-priests are to “take over.” We spoke about the preparation of the clergy. If there are some who need further studies, there will be programs for that, taking into account individual circumstances and personal responsibilities. Clergy won’t be rejected simply because they need some supplemental studies. When it comes to the holding of property, the archbishop stated without hesitation that determining property issues isn’t part of his task as delegate.”

    There appears to have been some kind of misunderstanding, and without the full text of Abp. Hepworth’s letter, one suspects it was excerpted by David Virtue (with quotes taken out of context?) so as to cast the situation in the worst possible light.  Also there may have been mischief from other quarters.  I see no reason, especially given what is stated above, to doubt Abp. Collins good motives or sincerity, and indeed we ought to be grateful for his work in helping to establish the ordinariate.  The one thing we do know for sure is that the person who has acted badly here is David Virtue and those who assisted him.  As for the rest of the murky facts, we may perhaps never know what the cause of all of this was, but I likewise see no good grounds for attacking Hepworth and those in the TAC, who appear to have been laboring under a misunderstanding.  So, as stated above, let us press on having good cause, thanks to Fr. Phillips, to leave all this nastiness behind us. 

  • Anonymous

    To add some points, I certainly do not want to blame anybody in this difficult situation where I know people are working hard and with good will, but I would like respectfully to make one suggestion to those involved.  I know from military and Homeland Security Planning how important both communications between different services and organization are, and also how important Public Affairs are.  I know high clergy are busy, overworked men who have to carefully budget their time, but I would respecfully recommend that time spent on communications and getting info. out to the interested public all along saves more time than is lost by having to deal with nonsense like this.  The former works to avoid such misunderstanding, and in the latter case, when people feel they are being left in the dark, it leaves a vacuum that an enemy or mischief maker is always happy to fill. 

  • MartinB

    Archbishop Hepworth is right to be concerned about the disposition of property. Rome must not be permitted to take ownership of Anglican property. The RC’s will ruin it and never return it to the Ordinariate as “Anglican” churches.  Again, we see continuing Roman knavery and duplicity at work here.

    The USA ordinariate is going on the rocks too.  This Ordinariate has turned out to be badly contrived, not thoroughly thought out, and worst of all, Anglicans are beginning to see first hand an example of  Rome’s usual dictatorial, neo-fascist style of governing. It is coming through loud and clear.

  • DBaumstarck

    Mr. Woodsall should also realize, archbishop Hepworth, has no chance of being a bishop for canonical reasons. The same is true for the other former Anglican bishops who converted to Rome.  Bishops cannot be married, divorced or not, and still become a bishop in the Roman or Orthodox churches.

  • AgingPapist

    Well, if he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest then there is no
    question of his having to be ordained – ordination is an indelible
    sacrament and can not be repeated. 
    In the Eastern Orthodox church Roman and Anglican priests, indelible as their ordinations may be, do indeed have to be re-ordained.  Many Orthodox churches do not recognize the validity or Roman or Anglican orders at any level.

  • AgingPapist

     In these cases it is the Church who judges, not individuals.
    The Church consists of individuals. They make errors, therefore, so does the Church.  So much for this rubbish about the “infallible church” speaking to us when it is nothing but a pack of red tape, rubber stamping bureaucrats making a decision.

  • AgingPapist

    The simple fact is the vast majority of Anglican clergy in Britain, Canada, or the USA have not been hood-winked by the Anglican Ordinariate’s designers. The numbers accepting this farce will be negligible. They bring with them a Romish liturgist put into English. Hardly an Anglican “patrimony”. Rome’s idea of
    that patrimony is limited largely to a Novus Ordo or Tridentine Mass put into English. 
    Archbishop Hepworth is showing you that Rome’s designs are grab Anglican churches. Something Anglicans must not permit to take place. 
    In the USA, Roman rite Catholics are moving to take ownership of their own parishes from the local bishop and his puppeteer in Rome, Patriarch Ratzinger , out of outrage over the total collapse of the hierarchy’s moral leadership and their growing irrelevance.

  • AgingPapist

    Not fair that he witheld the facts. He knew all along, but bullied all and sundry into submission.

    Hepworth was put up to doing this as part of Rome’s crass duplicity. Tell them anything, but get them into the program.  The whole idea of an ordinariate is blowing up in the pope’s face and so it should. He is
    paying the price for browbeating women and gays, and making a mockery of the liturgy along with his predecessors.  Paul VI’s fear of the “smoke of Satan” overtaking the Vatican is being witnessed here.

  • MrBlueChip1941

    The cloak of secrecy simply speaks to a desire for anonymity.  Their value of the facts, assuming they have value, has nothing to do with knowing who the author of those facts are. They stand or fall on their own.
    If this is the kind of intelligence we can expect to be exhibited in the priesthood today, then the Bavarian bureaucrat in Rome has more of a problem facing him than perhaps he or his supporters realize.

  • CPKS

     The amount of anti-ordinariate hysteria appearing in the comments relating to this story (whose grounding in truth is suspect, to say the least) leads me to suspect that this may well be part of a propaganda campaign that is not wholly opportunistic.

    In particular, we read allegations that the Vatican has some sort of acquisitive policy of snatching Anglican church buildings – allegations that are as wild as they are shrill. As is clear from Anglicanorum Coetibus, any Ordinariate property will be subject to the governing body of the Ordinariate. And church property (as any Anglican should know!) is not some kind of battle-trophy, but a grave and costly liability.

    It will be interesting to reassess some of these comments in a couple of years’ time. (By which time their authors will doubtless be using different aliases and preoccupied with other campaigns of online obloquy!)

  • Paul Halsall

    Typical property grab by Rome then. 

    No wonder TAC has walked away.