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 I have found two of my writings that reflected my thoughts in 2012: An unpublished “Plan B” paper and material from my old blog which I republished in my TAC Archive of October 2012.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).
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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.
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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!