Thu 23rd Oct 2014 | Last updated: Wed 22nd Oct 2014 at 18:57pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Latest News

Breakaway Anglicans reject Pope’s offer

By on Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Archbishop Hepworth greets Cardinal Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Photo: Deborah Gyapong)

Archbishop Hepworth greets Cardinal Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Photo: Deborah Gyapong)

The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), the world’s largest breakaway group of Anglicans, has announced that it will not be joining a Personal Ordinariate.

The move represents an remarkable turnaround. Five years ago the group sent a letter to Rome asking for “full, corporate and sacramental union”.

At a meeting near Johannesburg, South Africa, the group’s bishops deposed its primate, Archbishop John Hepworth. They voted unanimously that he “cease to hold the office of primate immediately”.

In a statement the bishops said there was a “strong feeling” at the meeting that “a new direction had been taken by the TAC”.

They said the meeting was “long overdue”. Their statement said: “Over the past two years, several members of the College of Bishops had requested of the primate an urgent meeting of the college. Anglicanorum coetibus or the Apostolic Constitution, for example, had never been discussed or debated within the College of Bishops. Meetings of the College of Bishops had, in fact, been scheduled at least twice over the past two years.

“Most recently, a meeting was called by the TAC primate for mid-2011. This meeting was cancelled abruptly by the primate. Accordingly, the meeting in Johannesburg was voted to be the overdue meeting of the College of Bishops,” the bishops said.

They said they had appointed Archbishop Samuel Prakash, one of the TAC’s founders, as acting primate.

Archbishop Hepworth announced in December that he would step down this year, saying that “considerable dissension” had arisen within the TAC.

Earlier last year he alleged that he had been sexually abused and raped by two priests while he was a seminarian and young Catholic priest in southern Australia. The Melbourne archdiocese has apologised and given him $75,000 in compensation, but the Archdiocese of Adelaide has dismissed his claims.

In 2007, at a meeting in Portsmouth, England, the TAC bishops agreed to send a letter to Rome asking to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. It was understood that they had accepted the teachings of the Catechism and that Archbishop Hepworth had offered to step down to the level of a priest.

The TAC says it has about 400,000 members and has branches in North America, Ireland, southern Africa, Australia, India and Japan.

  • Deborah Gyapong

    Hello Catholic Herald!  Be nice to at least get credit for the photo of mine that you have posted above. 
    This meeting in South Africa was illegitimate; it did not include any of the TAC College of Bishops members who are planning to join an Ordinariate; and it represents bishops who are acting outside of the Concordat that governs the TAC.  This meeting in South Africa was a sad spectacle and for us Ordinariate-bound Traditional Anglican Communion members in Canada and elsewhere, it shows ever more fully there is no future for Anglo-Catholicism outside the Catholic Church. 

    Why didn’t you talk with any TAC College of Bishops members who opposed this illicit meeting?

    Deborah Gyapong

  • Parasum

    “…it shows ever more fully there is no future for Anglo-Catholicism outside the Catholic Church.”

    ## How come ? Could you explain further ? Thanks. What the article does not make clear is whether the TAC – or any part of it – intends to swim the Tiber or stay Anglican.

  • buckingham88

    Well not quite.The Adelaide Archdiocese has investigated his claims against another catholic priest,who is still alive and able to be examined,and rejected them.Archbishop Hepworth declared that the enquiry was not set up on natural justice grounds and did not appear before it.This other catholic priest was named in the Australian Senate without an opportunity to appear before the Senate and give reply.He was never one of the two priests that judgement has been made against,both of whom are dead.Archbishop Hepworth has now,reluctantly taken his case to the police,and from newspaper reports the Adelaide Archdiocese is cooperating fully with the evidence already collected.
     This is a sad day for Christian unity.But without any reference to the police enquiry,there appears to be a problem for unity.It would appear that the church will not allow a Catholic priest who joins the Anglican communion to then return to the catholic communion through Anglicorum Coetibus and still practice his priestly ministry.So an offer to step down to a priest from bishop would be declined.So for TAC to join,to cross the Tiber,it would lose a leader.
     There is still time for a Papal dispensation,but this would mean end game for all those priests who left,were married and want some purpose and task in building the Kingdom.As a first step he could be welcomed as a married deacon.We can hope and pray for a just reconciliation.

  • The Catholic Herald

    Dear Deborah, 
    Apologies for not crediting your photo – a credit has now been added. I hope that’s OK. We’d love to find out more about the Ordinariate-bound TAC members. Would you consider getting in touch? My email is
    Kind regards, 

  • Gerry

    Is the Diaconate to be seen as a sort of ‘second rate’ kind of Priesthood, or a consolation prize for those who don’t make the grade? This would be a disaster for the Permanent Diaconate, and still a slap in the face for all former priests who still would like some role in the Church. After all, as far as I’m aware, nobody in the Vatican has ever suggested that THEY might become deacons, just that they are persona non grata.

  • Paul Halsall

    I followed up on this story, which is rather sad in many respects.

    Still, *if it is true* that the proposal in Canada was for TAC parishes to hand over their property to the RCC, then dissolve as Christian communities and attend local RC churches for six months, and to have to endure a eucharistic fast for the same six months – that implies a catastrophic series of decisions by triumphalistic RC decision makers.

  • Robert Williams

    There are not 40,000 members in the TAC , let alone 400,000. That was just the spin of I accurately predicyed this is a complete fiasco….just pray that a tiny remnant come over.

  • Deesis

    Well the Adelaide situation is more complicated. Rather than hold a canon law court trial or get someone from outside Adelaide to hear the case they picked a local ex judge. Monsignor Dempsey ( the accused) did not say it had not taken place. His statement says it was not rape. We in Adelaide know of how sexually perverse the seminary was in Adelaide (now closed). That was where the other 2 priests also abused him and had along history of sexual abuse. One dying in a sex club! Mons Dempsey (collar and tie) has used provarication to skirt the issue. In any event as the archdiocese is dominated by homosexual clergy who think it nothing wrong, the matter has not been properly tested.  In any event Archbishop Hepworth refused to take part because he did not think it objective. Our bishops in Australia NEVER to date have used a canon law court to investigate these sex abuse claims. The proofs are less than the secular courts. In any event why should the Church not judge its own regardless of what old retired judges say. The Code of Canon law is far more comprehensive that the civil law. Why can’t the Church find the spine to apply its own law to itself? 

  • Anonymous

    To answer your question: No.

  • Anonymous

    What the article does not make clear is whether the TAC – or any part of it – intends to swim the Tiber or stay Anglican.

    The whole thing sounds rather a mess, to say the least – I thought that:

    a) the TAC was about 400,000 strong

    b) the idea was that all would come over to Rome, and do so in a body

    c) they would preserve Anglican rites and uses in the CC, for keeps.

    Curiouser and curioser. As you say, rather sad.

  • buckingham88

     ‘Careers have been unjustly destroyed and characters sullied on the mere whiff of a transgression’……..’The man acquitted of raping a fashion designer in Sydney nightclub Ivy…told of his overwhelming relief when the jury returned its unanimous verdict after only two hours of deliberation’ This is the sort of context that the main players find themselves, these are comments lifted from a Sydney tabloid about other cases.
    The situation in Australia is that if an accusation of the major crime of rape is made then it has to be investigated by the church and must be reported to the police.The church then has an obligation to gather the facts.It has done so.Unless there is clear evidence it is unlikely to commence a trial at Canon Law.If the allegation of rape is upheld in a court of secular law then Canon Law will surely follow.
    Who ever is accused of rape surely has the right to demand the highest level of proof.This prevents dubious claims based on some other motivation.If the accused then claims it ‘was not rape’ in defense,then what else would one expect if they are defending themselves.The accuser has to be clear about what the alleged act was.
    As for provarication,there is no doubt that the Adelaide process has been slow,but the accused has always denied the allegation,so it cannot be sheeted home to the accused.In fact the accused could have been give right of reply when named in the Senate.This would have speeded things up.Yet this,an opportunity to speak in the same chamber as the accusation was made,was denied him.The subsequent apology by the senator was at best disingenuous.
    The decision by Archbishop Hepworth to bring his evidence to the police will be welcomed by all those who wish to see a just and definitive resolution to this saga.

  • Paul Halsall

    Presumably you would be happy with Sharia to decide such cases in the UK?

  • Charles Martel

     Catholics don’t call themselves RC, Paul. We are simply Catholics.

  • Stan Zorin

    One parish at a time…

  • John Farrell

    TAC sounds like a shady outfit, very shady.