The Avignon Patrimony

Another article has appeared More On The Patrimony Of The Primate and it really is quite poignant. I lived through those expectations and illusions of 2011 and the following year. I have found two of my writings that reflected my thoughts in 2012: An unpublished “Plan B” paper and material from my old blog which I republished in my TAC Archive of October 2012. The relevant part comes under Bishop Botterill on the TAC Tribunal.

It isn’t something I would write now, or after the time when I resigned from the TAC in England where Archbishop Prakash put me around this time, having been accepted into the ACC by its diocesan bishop in England and then having heard some extremely disturbing and equally convincing things about Archbishop Hepworth from sources way outside the TAC.

In 2012, Archbishop Hepworth still hoped to keep some of the Ordinariate-bound clergy, but who were not yet in an Ordinariate, in a kind of temporary structure. This was the Patrimony of the Primate, but not for long. The big problem is that canonically irregular (former Roman Catholics or divorced and remarried) clergy were just not going to be amnestied. The only reason for the Archbishop persevering with something is if there were this hope. Had he been willing to give up and pursue life as a lay Roman Catholic, he would have done so. He evidently did not. He believed he could negotiate, and when this was not working, he tried blackmail by accusing several clergy of the RC Archdiocese of having sexually assaulted him as an adult seminarian. The law in Australia did not find any cause to believe the allegations against Monsignor Dempsey (who is now reinstated).

In late 2012, I was almost at the end of my agony, and my own experience had prevented me from making any personal application to any Roman Catholic authority. I would at that time have been prepared to follow Archbishop Hepworth as part of a group, but not as a “convert-apostate- revert”.

This whole thing was caused by three factors: Rome playing a double game, where they could have told Archbishop Hepworth to his face much earlier that he was toast. The second was Archbishop Hepworth playing a manipulating game to try to get his own RC priesthood back by offering the fictitious number of four hundred thousand faithful. The third factor was the heavy-handed approach of the TAC bishops in 2012, instead of dealing with the problem much earlier, perhaps at the Bishops’ College meeting of October 2007 in Portsmouth.

I tried giving ideas to the Archbishop (whom I still trusted) in my unpublished “Plan B” paper written in August 2010 which I fictitiously set in July 2011. The idea was transformed into a Fellowship of Saint Benedict. It would seem that the Patrimony was scrapped, because there was no longer a TAC as far as the Archbishop was concerned. At this point, I can say that there is no historical continuity between any current attempt to revive the Patrimony and the old one – hence something new. In his e-mail of 25th May 2012, he expressed his willingness not to be the leader, but rather have the Roman Catholic priest Fr John Fleming (who is actually the origin of the entire Romeward movement in the TAC).  Many of the addressees of this e-mail joined the Ordinariate as soon as they could. Though my name was on this list, I did not pursue the idea. Archbishop Hepworth expressed not wanting to found a Church, but rather a temporary and entirely autonomous structure.

“We resist the temptation to form yet another church among the myriad and scandalous world of Continuing Anglicanism“.

Another thing to consider is that the project was “outed” by Fr Stephen Smuts and seen as a hypocritical attempt to found a crypto continuing church. Perhaps that was a good thing.

It was not until twelve months ago that I became convinced that +Hepworth told each person what he thought they wanted to hear. His relations with Roman clergy in high places was complete spin. From this meeting, I became convinced that my former Archbishop was someone without conscience, a charmer and a manipulator, and perhaps someone who would do jail time if there was justice in this world. I was one of the charmed, and fortunately I was already far away, having turned the page and found a good and Christian spiritual father in Bishop Damien Mead of the ACC. I was filled with shame, almost like a sexually abused child telling his story to the police! The difference was that I was hearing a parallel story from another.

It’s not easy for me to write this posting, but I feel the duty faced with this rumour that its was all awakening. Of course, it won’t affect me because I am a priest in a different Church and I have nothing to hide. I don’t personally mind if some kind of shenanigan is revived and claimed to be something half-recognised by Rome. There are others, and all but a few know they are complete bullshit.

John Bruce is speculating about what can be salvaged from something that is deader than dinosaur dung! Most of those who were in the Patrimony in 2011-12 have joined the Ordinariate. Some returned to the ACA and others went to other continuing Anglican bodies or converted to Orthodoxy. Bishop Moyer has given up and is now a Roman Catholic layman, as did Bishop Campese. I would not be surprised if St Mary’s in Hollywood and Fr Kelly would be the only odd one left – now that Fr Kelly has won his legal case (unless there is an appeal and the whole thing starts up again to the delight of American lawyers). Was this thing Archbishop-Emeritus Hepworth’s idea or Fr Kelly’s or John Bruce’s? If the latter, such skulduggery would be unbecoming of a devout Roman Catholic.

Would anyone else want to trust Archbishop Hepworth knowing his record? Given what I have read and heard over the past five years, I see no evidence that any “Patrimony of the Primate” would be anything other than a scurrilous fiction and no more truthful than so-called Cardinal David Atkinson-Wake alias Bell in England who seems to have gone quiet as of late. The important thing is not only did the bishops of the TAC repudiate the Patrimony from the very beginning of 2012, it was abandoned by Archbishop Hepworth himself, the evidence being that he wanted to found a “Fellowship of Saint Benedict”. How can anyone claim that “the affiliation is legally and canonically valid“? The idea is ludicrous!

I named this article the Avignon Patrimony in reference to that fascinating article by Dr Jean-François Mayer on antipopes. In it he explained how some believed (perhaps still believe) in a secret succession of “true” Popes from Pedro de Luna (1329-1423) who took the name of Benedict XIII in 1394 and reigned from Avignon. According to legend, a succession of secret popes exists to this day. This whole story seems to remind me of that quirk of history. Psychologically, we all love mysteries and conspiracies, the stuff from which a successful Dan Brown novel is made!

I am sure this little sensation will blow over very quickly and that it will have been proven to be a matter of smoke, mirrors and the eternal wishful thinking. I beg the forgiveness of my readers for going on at length on something that might have done better to be ignored. It touched a nerve in me, hardly surprising, and I tend to like writing things down for the record.

As a reminder, I have recorded as much as I could on the last years of the TAC under the Primacy of Archbishop Hepworth in The TAC Archive. Most of the for and against the Patrimony of the Primate (as used for the “shelter” of Ordinariate-bound clergy) is found. Just use the search function of your internet browser. I wasn’t able to record the whole truth, but quite a lot of it.

I don’t think many will be deceived by any new version of the “Avignon” Patrimony any more than by the little antipopes running around (assuming they are still alive).

* * *

Update: This cannot go without an answer: This All May Be My Doing!

Not quite a reaction to the parish restoration, but Mr Chadwick now suspects the reemergence of Abp Hepworth is something I may have cooked up myself, which would be disgraceful, since I claim to be a devout Catholic. Mr Chadwick, let me put you in touch with Fr Davis. You, he, Mrs Bush, and Ms Akan can commiserate.

Down in the comments, there seems to be general agreement that Fr Z is a sociopath, and they’ve already excommunicated him. Or something.

For the first paragraph, the idea occurred to me, as Mr Bruce is the only one trying to get this into sites and blogs that just “aren’t biting”. I have no desire to be put in touch with any of the persons mentioned. It isn’t my problem.

As for Fr Zuhlsdorf, the question of his being “excommunicated” is the spontaneous opinion of one of my commenters, Patrick Sheridan who lives in sourthern England. I have attempted to bring a moderating influence on this opinion which I consider as exaggerated and extreme. He alone takes responsibility for his expressed opinion. There is no “general agreement”. As for the said American priest being a “sociopath”, nowhere is this idea expressed as of 21st February 2016 at 0.54 am GMT.

* * *

Either we have gone back in time to the early months of 2012 or time has stood still. Mr Bruce has published an e-mail from Deborah Gyapong on Abp Hepworth. She is entitled to her opinion, and she has remained faithful to her position that everyone in the TAC was morally bound to become Roman Catholics on pain of being in bad faith and lacking in credibility. In October 2012 appeared Hepworth Redux in Fr Stephen Smuts’ blog, which outlines some very serious accusations. I conclude that no progress is possible from this perpetual loop. I am neither in the Ordinariate and I am no longer in the TAC. I respect the fact that the bishops of my Church are in dialogue with the ACA bishops in America. That matter is “above my pay grade”.

Now, it is really over as far as I am concerned. Perhaps joining the “true church” trumps anything else and the end justifies all means. I used to believe the Gyapong “hermeneutic” and suffered for it from the trolls who confused Pope Benedict XVI with Pius IX among the other agendas they might have promoted. Perhaps she is right, but I will have nothing to do with such a world. I wish the “Avignon” Patrimony the best of luck and hope that all involved will find their happiness. Let them get on with it and may the best man win!

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17 Responses to The Avignon Patrimony

  1. There are plenty of charlatan clergy in this world, father. People rejected from mainstream seminaries, queers, and other undesirables. They go about like moochers, say the right thing to the right people with shews of seeming piety, desperate for legitimacy, but they all have skeletons. I think you ought to stay exactly where you are and stop thinking about them. Some, like your Hepworth fellow, are probably psychopaths, not like Ted Bundy, perhaps (although you can never be too sure, with some), but certainly like Hillary Clinton.

    • lMy Bishop just had one of those nutcases “excommunicate” him because he would not agree to an instant intercommunion agreement, where my Bishop had politely explained that there is a procedure to be followed in our Church. It seems difficult to imagine being excommunicated by someone with whom one has never been in communion!

      Be assured, dear friend, that I have no intention of changing anything in my life. I am not interested in clerical shenanigans, just in simply being a priest in a Church that contains all the ingredients for the Catholic Church to subsist in it. I brought up the subject of the old ghosts because it had been brought up elsewhere, albeit by an extremely marginal person. It seems best to bring it into the open so that the abscess can be lanced and the pus allowed to flow out.

      I don’t know about +Hepworth being a psychopath. He was good enough with me and never did me any direct harm. On the other hand, I wasn’t important enough to be useful for a perverse agenda. He has done incalculable harm to others, destroyed a highly viable ecclesial structure and apparently made off with a lot of money. I have learned, as with other bitter experiences in my life, to move on and turn my attention to good and positive things – however humble and small.

      • Well, about a year ago I excommunicated John Zuhlsdorf (another charlatan priest), with whom I haven’t technically shared communion in five or six years. He is proof that you don’t have to be a renegade or schismatic to be an opportunist fraud and scrounger. But there seems to be some aura of piety, which I don’t feel, about him, so that people are just oblivious to his true nature. Maybe that’s because he just says what the traddies want to hear? Whether or not he personally believes what he writes is another story.

        I saw through him the day I first met him, over 8 years ago, and I was scolded for what I initially said about him on my old blog on the simple grounds that he is a “priest.” Perhaps other people think differently about clericalism but I see nothing wrong in holding such people to very high standards, and when they fail coming down on them like a tonne of bricks, as my mother would say.

      • I have much less of an opinion of Fr Zuhlsdorf, since I hardly ever go near his blog. At one time, when he lived in Rome, he had some nice Italian recipes and he reminded me of the late Fr Gregor Hesse. Now, his rhetoric means nothing to me. There is certainly a lot of wrong about him, but he is not worth our getting steamed up with hatred. I met quite a few guys like that in Rome with clerical pretensions, but now they live in their part of the world and I in mine. What would Quentin Crisp say?

  2. Pantelimon says:

    Following the death of Dom Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez, David Bell claimed to have been hand picked as his successor. A cassock clad charlatan if ever there was one. The link is to his website.

    • Yes, it all looks very grand, a veritable “Great Invisible Empire of Romantia”. One of our more ambitiously-minded priests joined them and became a bishop (of bugger-all) very quickly. I am amused to see Don Gregorio Hesse featuring on the page. Don Gregorio, now deceased, was an Austrian Roman Catholic priest who lived in the USA for a while and was very active in the traditionalist movement. He never had anything to with men like Bell.

      It seems to me that a good exercise for us is to make a comparison between the pretensions of this man and others like him and the reality of our world that has no use even for real Christianity. We are going to an Orwellian and jihadist hell – and some still dress up to the nines and behave like drunken whores in a gin palace. There’s not much to be done in terms of converting people to Christianity, but at least some of us who are Christians can live according to its principles without becoming a grotesque parody.

      I’m no better than anyone else, indeed a nobody, but by God’s mercy an unworthy priest.

      • Pantelimon says:

        There have been allegations of homosexuality and other unsavory things concerning Bell. Of course rumors can be nothing more than idle gossip, then again they could be true. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that he is a fraud.

      • Some people in Victorian times said something like, “As long as they don’t do it in public and frighten the horses”! I take the same attitude. It isn’t realistic to expect other people to be moral, whether or not they profess a belief system that condemns homosexuality. I find the subject boring.

        However, people should beware of being burned in such wise as they would avoid legitimate bishops and priests too. His immorality engages only himself, but Jesus said woe betide those who cause scandal!

  3. Neil Hailstone says:

    There are lots of little ‘Popelings’ and bogus ‘Bishops’ about these days. Some of them have the same same essential ability which is found in successful fraudsters. That is to come across as trustworthy and believable. In my first career I was a trained criminal investigator. A couple of years ago I believed that I was dealing with an authentic bishop who turned out to be bogus. Thankfully I suffered no significant loss other than to my self esteem on a temporary basis.

    What has been written here is performing a service to warn honest people to be alert when smooth talking individuals attired in clerical clothing whose antecedents are unknown seek to attract adherents. I was at a meeting of dissident Anglo Catholics back in the early 90’s and if my memory serves me correctly which I believe it does, Hepworth was present at the weekend in the hotel. If not him then someone looking remarkably like him and from Australia. This individual was as I remember him extremely ‘smooth’ , an excellent inter personal communicator and in some respects, if I may lower the tone, with a tendency to engage in ‘Bull**i*e’

    • The psychologist Dr Robert D. Hare gave twenty “points” by which we can get a handle on any person who might do us harm, rip us off or whatever, be he or she our bishop, parish priest, banker, boss or wife. Obviously, there is more to a diagnosis than this, but the “points” or traits give us an idea.

      – glib and superficial charm
      – grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
      – need for stimulation
      – pathological lying
      – cunning and manipulativeness
      – lack of remorse or guilt
      – shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
      – callousness and lack of empathy
      – parasitic lifestyle
      – poor behavioural controls
      – sexual promiscuity
      – early behaviour problems
      – lack of realistic long-term goals
      – impulsivity
      – irresponsibility
      – failure to accept responsibility for own actions
      – many short-term marital relationships
      – juvenile delinquency
      – revocation of conditional release
      – criminal versatility

  4. I’m not sure Quentin Crisp had a particular view of the clergy, let alone frauds or charlatans. He was certainly no fraud! I don’t suppose he would have been welcome in any churches in his youth, going by his appearance, so maybe that’s why you won’t find anything in his writings about the clergy. Who knows.

    Like you, I don’t ever look at John Zuhlsdorf’s blog. Not since I excommunicated him in fact, and seldom before that. He linked to my old blog, Singulare Ingenium, only once. That was for what I had written about Tim Finigan’s silver jubilee, but I was curious that he didn’t set up a permanent link. Now I understand that the reason for that was that I didn’t fawn over him when I spoke to him for the first time. Who cares? Let it go, move on.

    I agree with Neil Hailstone about this post being a service to honest people.

    • From what I have read of Quentin Crisp, I don’t think he was at all interested in churches, and his notion of God and life beyond death was quite minimalist (at least from what he said and wrote). I don’t believe he was a fraud either. The film of the Naked Civil Servant showed a subtle but obvious contrast between him and the rent boys in the café. Quentin Crisp didn’t “camp it up” – he was himself. He was what some people would call themselves nowadays – “spiritual but not religious”. But I meant a parallel in analogical terms, since Crisp found fault with anyone who was insincere.

      I find it amusing that you “excommunicated” Fr Zuhlsdorf. Did you use a bell, a book and a candle? I always thought it was a job of a bishop sanctioning one of his subjects for specific canonical offences. Perhaps you speak analogically, just saying that you wanted nothing more to do with the man. As you say, I have other things to do, better places to find recipes for good food and religious questions. Perhaps he would say the same about my boat and Sarum liturgy! Then he and I are quits. I don’t mind.

      With all these thoughts, perhaps we can try to make the world a better place…

  5. D says:

    Bravo Fr. Anthony.

    Any suggestion by Mr. Bruce that Archbishop Hepworth is heading up the “Patrimony of the Primate” in his capacity as Primate of the TAC should be carefully considered.

    Primate of which Church or denomination? TAC? NOT ON YOUR LIFE.
    Maybe a hastily constructed Anglican Church of Katamatite.

    Archbishop Hepworth was irrevocably suspended as the Primate of the TAC in 2012 as a result of “gross mismanagement and financial irregularities”. Go figure……………

  6. Fr. David Marriott SSC says:

    I add this from my Lent II homily: ‘So it is that our entire society has been developed and nurtured on a diet of clear and specific God-given instruction for the healthy and peaceful future of humanity. But, of course, man thinks he knows better!

    In this regard, Jesus also warns us against this temptation, ‘And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.’ (Mark 13.21-23) It is this situation which troubles me so very much, and is a fundamental reason for the existence of the Anglican Catholic Church: to guard our faith for all true devout Christians, and not to guard the faith against any obvious threat – such as that we read of in newspapers and on the news which attacks Christians in the name of an extreme interpretation of Islam – no, the immediate threat to our faith comes from within what we might call the broader church, a threat which comes from the false prophets who have assumed the authority to re-interpret Holy Scripture to suit their own interpretations, which, it is argued, more accurately reflect the spirit of the age.

    The website, Virtue on Line, cites the dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver: ‘Anglican churches across the globe are at different stages in dealing with LGBTQ rights, says the openly gay Anglican Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver, BC.’ The report includes this statement from Dean Elliott, with most of which we might all agree: ‘Three years from now we could see the end of the Anglican Communion as we know it if TEC does not rescind its stand on gay marriage, which we know it won’t.’ This statement poses the question: ‘Who wins?’

    Clearly, it is not the folk who sit in the pews. It is not the community at large, it is not the clergy, and a disaster for the Bishops and the Dioceses: one only has to look at the legal costs alone for the Diocese of New Westminster to gain possession of St. John’s Shaughnessy to understand that, and it is not the Christian faith. No: there has been only one winner when sin triumphs and his name is Satan, or Beelzebub, or the devil……..and sometimes, it’s Tom, Dick or Harry!

    Pray that we might withstand the false prophets, and defeat them so that they trouble us no more.

    • Thank you, Father, for this spiritual look at things. Indeed, we enter into spiritual battle, with our own sin, with false prophets and false friends. The thing that most struck me about the ACC, as I read from one of our priests in England – “It is what it says on the jar”. We don’t have 400,000 faithful, nor do we claim friends in high places in Rome. We are simply a small Church of Anglican tradition and we simply serve God as best we can.

      The Church has always lived through hard times, and militant and jihadist Islam has always threatened the Church. Relativism or so-called “liberalism” has always been a threat, as has corruption and lust for money, power and sexual domination. I have stopped worrying what the others do, whether it is the Anglican Communion or the Roman Catholic Church. What matters is that we stay intact, strong and firm in our convictions and our Christian love and tolerance. Beware of both conservatism that lacks compassion and tolerance and “liberalism” that is just as intolerant and more hypocritical.

      Indeed we battle against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the dark places. St Paul gives us the spiritual weapons with which to fight, knowing that the battle is also in our own souls. And, above all, pray that we do not ourselves become false prophets!

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