The "conservative Anglican" news website VirtueOnline published last Friday an interview with the leader of the Traditional Anglican Communion, John Hepworth, currently in negotiations with the Holy See.
VOL: Contacts in the Roman Catholic Church have suggested that the statements issued by you in acceptance of Roman Catholic dogma are weak on the primacy and infallibility of the Pope. How would you respond?
HEPWORTH: In the paragraph, "we accept the ministry of the Bishop of Rome" and the quote from Vatican II and from John Paul II's encyclical to the separated churches is sufficient indication that we are accepting contemporary statements of Catholic Doctrine and he explicitly made that statement ex cathedra.
Secondly we signed the catechism of the Catholic Church which includes contemporary Catholic teaching on the papacy and we state in the letter we signed that we accepted this as the most perfect statement of Catholic faith in the world at the present time and that it is the faith we "aspire to hold and teach."
VOL: It has been reported that at the gathering of all TAC bishops in England last October at which the TAC formally petitioned Rome for union, that all the bishops signed a copy of the Roman Catholic Catechism on the altar as an expression of their complete acceptance of Roman Catholic dogma and doctrine. Others have reported that this was not the case, that they signed the petition to Rome but not the Catechism. Did the bishops all sign the Catechism, and is there complete acceptance by the TAC of Roman Catholic dogma and doctrine?
HEPWORTH: First. We not only signed the catechism, we also signed the compendium which is the Q & A section of the catechism on the altar and a video of the signing was made for the Holy See and we state in the letter that it is the faith we aspire to hold and teach. We all signed it on that altar in the middle of a mass for Christian unity.
VOL: Several Roman Catholic sources have indicated that the TAC will not be able to achieve the status of a Uniate church, but that some form of Personal Prelature might be a possibility, provided that the prelate assigned jurisdiction over the Prelature is one chosen by Rome from among existing Roman Catholic bishops. Would the TAC find this acceptable? –and if so, do you have an idea of which existing Roman Catholic bishops you would most like to see holding the Prelature?
HEPWORTH: First we have carefully avoided using the word uniate because it specifically refers to a process in the Eastern Church which is not a parallel in the situation in the West. Secondly, in our meetings with the Holy See we have been asked not to narrow the discussion by alluding only to those possibilities in contemporary canon law. Thirdly, it is only proper that we await the reply of the Holy See and our bishops give it careful consideration. We have the opportunity as we have promised to discuss the Holy See's response to our general synods of our national churches around the world.
VOL: You are aware of the pontifical Pastoral Provision that governs acceptance of formerly Episcopal clergy and faithful in the American Roman Catholic Church in a form that allows them to continue familiar Anglican liturgical practices and build "Anglican Use" parishes. These parishes must operate under the jurisdiction of the local Roman Catholic diocese within whose boundaries they are located. Several Roman Catholic sources have suggested that the way in which Rome may respond to the TAC's petition will be to extend the Pastoral Provision globally. If this were done, the TAC would not come into communion with Rome as a body, but as individual parishes being absorbed into the existing Roman Catholic Structure. Would the TAC find this acceptable? Why or why not?
HEPWORTH: I have strongly indicated that this would be unlikely to work whether we accept it or not. Because very few Catholic bishops have, up until now, been prepared to implement such a scheme and it has no presence outside of the U.S. and therefore it doesn't cover the TAC.
VOL: Are all of the lay people as enthusiastic as you are about going to Rome?
HEPWORTH: There is a gradation of enthusiasm across the whole TAC and that extends across our clergy and people. There are places where there is restless enthusiasm and impatience for the process to be at an end, and in other places some fear and hesitation as to what it might mean. A significant part of my work as primate is the apostolic care of those who are fearful.
Tip: Le Forum Catholique