Archbishop Hepworth’s Letter to the Traditional Anglican Communion College of Bishops

UPDATE:   TAC House of Bishops Calls for Archbishop John Hepworth’s Immediate Removal here.

Has just been released:

* * *

5th December 2011

To the Archbishops and Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion

My Dear Brothers,

There has been considerable dissension in our midst in the past year. This has been partly caused by very different reactions to Anglicanorum Coetibus. Also, it has been driven by a serious conflict (that has included many beyond our own ranks) about the proper interpretation of the terms for unity offered by that Apostolic Constitution.  Likewise,  it has been propelled by very different expectations of the purposes for which our Communion exists, our relationship to other Anglicans, and the faith we profess.

Profound doctrinal and moral differences have grown between us. Matters that were not thought of sufficient significance to disclose in the documentation prepared for consecrations to the episcopate have suddenly taken on new and public significance.

I would have thought that we would follow the constant example of Christians of all ages, and seek to settle these doctrinal divisions before hastening to change our policy, for it in the way we behave as a church and in our relationships to other Christian communities that we proclaim our faith.

In the meantime, some of our number have begun the first steps towards serving as clergy in the Ordinariates that are now being established. I expect to shortly begin to receive resignations from members of our College as they advance towards this goal.  It will be some months before the membership of the College, and the presiding bishops of the member provinces, will be clear.

In the meantime, I remind you that those who hold the Catholic Faith as set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church hold the faith of this Communion, and those clergy and laity who are making their way into the fullness of Catholic Communion, are observing the policies of this Communion, and proceed with our joyful best wishes. These thoughts are much in our minds this week, as we celebrate the Prayer Book feast of the Conception of the Virgin, a feast Cranmer insisted remain in the Calendar for profound reasons of Christology. I will be observing the Feast with Bishop Mercer and the clergy and people of Saint Agatha’s in Portsmouth before having several weeks of quietness before Christmas.

It is my intention, provided the membership of our College is substantially clarified in the next few months, to tender my resignation as Primate at Pentecost. I have achieved what I was requested to do by those who elected me, and the proclamation of Anglicanorum Coetibus remains for me a cherished moment. Its significance is as yet almost entirely in the future. That future is for others to create. I remain the Bishop Ordinary in Australia and Japan, and under legislation of the Canadian General Synod, Primate of the ACCC. Those positions will be unchanged by the forthcoming resignation.

An election will then be conducted strictly according to the Concordat, and it will be for the newly elected Primate to arrange for a Plenary Meeting of our College and the Primatial Installation.

In the meantime, I remain a little whimsical at the fury with which some in our ranks seek to distance themselves from their signatures on the Portsmouth Petition. Instead, I wish each of you, and your families, the richest blessings of Christmas.

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About Fr Stephen Smuts

TAC Priest in South Africa.
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