Traditional Anglican Communion Australia in Disarray
The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) in Australia appears to be falling apart. First there is this ad clerum [pdf] issued by the new “Acting Primate”. I’ve quoted the relevant parts:
2. The current situation within The Anglican Catholic Church in Australia.
a) Bishop John Hepworth: following lengthy communication with Bishop Hepworth, I have taken the very serious decision of suspending Bishop Hepworth as Ordinary to the ACCA. He is no longer in control of the ACCA, and may take no decisions concerning its management and may make no appointments of any sort whatsoever. It is with deep regret that I have to inform you that further steps against Bishop Hepworth are being considered in the light of a document sent out by Bishop Hepworth openly advocating schism within the TAC. These steps are deemed necessary in the best interests of the church in Australia and indeed the whole of the TAC.
b) Vicar General Owen Buckton: is appointed as Administrator of the ACCA with the full confidence of the College of Bishops of the TAC and is mandated to take control of all matters material to the management of the church in Australia as of 18 May 2012. All clergy and laity in the ACCA are urged to give Fr. Buckton their full and prayerful support. This is mentioned as a result of a message to me with the copy of an ad Clerum from Bishop Hepworth, sent out after his suspension, and in defiance of the respectful instruction that he steps aside as Bishop Ordinary of the ACCA. Fr Kinmont is NOT the recognised Vicar General of the ACCA.
c) Bishop David Robarts: An attempt was made by Bishop Hepworth to have Bishop Robarts suspended in Australia for daring to seek clarification on serious matters pertaining to the management of finances in the ACCA. No due process for the removal of a Bishop, as set out in the TAC Concordat was followed, and at the College of Bishops meeting in February 2012, it was confirmed that Bishop David Robarts is and will remain a full and active member of the College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion. He continues to minister with our full support and blessing.
It is our understanding that an Ordinariate will be set up in Australia on 15 June 2012 in Australia, and that Bishop Harry Entwhistle will be departing the ranks of the TAC on that date. Matters in Australia will proceed under Fr Buckton, and he is mandated to do all that would be required to address areas of grave concern within the ACCA.
In response (it appears) Hepworth has issued his own letter - received from a source. Since I can’t find the original online I’ll quote it in full.
June 11, 2012
My Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sister,
For some weeks, a number of us (including our founding Primate Archbishop Falk) have been praying and working on a response to the activities of the minority of our brothers who have seized control of our Communion and seek to pervert it to anti-catholic ends. Their actions are already destroying much of our work over the past twenty five years. Our Roman Catholic friends (and there are many, including the new Australian Ambassador to the Holy See) have been dismayed.
The document that is attached is the result of our efforts. (An identical document is attached in two versions of Word.) Neither Archbishop Falk nor I seek to lead this body. We are simply asking two things:
1. Your preparedness to attach your name so that the document can be published among our communities and more widely, and to seek the concurrence of your clergy and people in whatever way might be appropriate to take this proposal to the next stage.
2. To attend a meeting, with a clergyman and lay person from your Diocese or community as appropriate, in England from 9th - 11th October this year, to determine the shape, life and leadership of the Fellowship.
The Rev’d Dr. John Fleming, a long time friend of many in the Traditional Anglican Communion, and in his third term with the Vatican-based Pontifical Academy for Life, has been suggested as an ideal person to be the mentor mentioned in the document.
Each of us needs to commit ourselves to the prayerful defense of each other at this time. The Roman Catholic Church needs to know that there are Traditional Anglican Communion bishops still committed to the promises of Portsmouth.
I am prepared to collate the signatures and circulate the document with names attached for you to publish. This is urgent.
I should also wish you to know at this time that Lay Canon Woodman is seriously ill as a result of the stress of the vicious attacks on her and her property by the group led by Samuel Prakash.
This is being sent to the following, all of whom are invited to indicate support: the bishops names will appear as a block, followed by Traditional Anglican Communion clergy and laity; it is not intended to name our Catholic supporters in the published document, but we value knowing you are with us:
Lay Canon Woodman, Dr. John Fleming. Archbishop Falk Bishops Moyer, Entwistle, Hudson, Banzana, Kajiwarra, Nona, Garcia, Campese. Dr Labusga (Argentine), Father Kinmont (VG Australia), Father McManus (England), Father Chadwick (France) And to our former brothers in the episcopate Father Robert Mercer, Peter Wilkinson and Carl Reid, seeking their prayers, understanding and fellowship (will Peter please inform Robert?.
With every good wish,
Archbishop John Hepworth
P.O. Box 746
Dissident TAC Group Forms Saint Benedict Fellowship
June 11, 2012
We are bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion who signed the Portsmouth Petition and the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the altar in the midst of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. We understood then, and continue to understand, that our signatures had the sacred nature of an oath.
We are bishops who rejoiced at the proclamation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus by Pope Benedict XVI, which so amply fulfilled the dreams we had dared to express in our Petition, and the dreams that others had expressed to the Holy Father.
We number among us the bishops and Primates who commissioned, led and supported the cause of Anglican/Roman Catholic unity over the past thirty years, who were supported by their clergy, laity and synods, and who sustained isolation, ridicule and hardship.
We have experienced the difficulties and trauma of the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution, and understand the hurt and frustration of many of our brothers and sisters at this time.
We accept the responsibility bestowed on us by the vows taken at our Episcopal consecration, and will continue to do all that is required of us to sustain those entrusted to our care. We will defend them against those who have chosen to reject those things to which we committed ourselves and our Communion at Portsmouth. This rejection deeply saddens us as we are confronted with a breach of collegial trust, commitment and unity. We are committed to leading the people entrusted to us for as long as that might be necessary, understanding that our own future is not and must not be a consideration in our leadership.
We resist the temptation to form yet another church among the myriad and scandalous world of Continuing Anglicanism. Equally, we cannot in conscience allow those who now repudiate all that we have sought and achieved to go unchallenged.
We have formed ourselves into a sacramental fellowship, under the patronage of Saint Benedict, in order to minister to and sustain each other and those Anglicans who share our desire for the full, global implementation of the Apostolic Constitution.
We pledge to do only those ecclesial actions necessary to sustain our dioceses and communities, to strengthen, enrich and sustain the Anglican treasure that is our heritage and that is so warmly endorsed in the Apostolic Constitution, and to take council amongst ourselves and amongst those whom we lead.
We pledge to sustain the warmest bonds of Christian love for those who have already come into “the fullness of Catholic Communion” under the Apostolic Constitution.
To this end, the bishops, with representatives of their clergy and people, who seek to create this Fellowship will meet in the Northern Autumn. It is our intention to invite a mentor acceptable to us and to the Catholic Church to assist us in our deliberations. This first meeting will determine the minimal structures necessary for the faith, good order, sacramental life, communication and mutual support within the Fellowship.
So let’s see if we can summarise this. A segment of an Anglican group falls out with the leadership over, not least, allegations of financial irregularities. Rather than reconciling they seek to set up their own mission body in their own right. For some reason it sounds hauntingly familiar…
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