Rorate Caeli

"There is a gradation of enthusiasm"

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


  1. Anonymous1:22 PM

    The excerpted portions of this interview (the whole thing is available at Catholic Online, I think) are interesting in that Abp Hepworth states that the CDF is suggesting they not confine themselves to current structural solutions. I think this is a most helpful sign, and perhaps is an indication that the Holy Father is himself indicating a willingness to assist the process by considering new forms.

    For all the good will and intentions of the Pastoral Provision staff (and I know some of them and deeply respect them), the inability of the US Catholic bishops to accept a body of traditionally-minded Anglicans but with married clergy has been a huge stumbling block that has made the PP almost nothing more than a means of integrating individual Anglican clergy into the Novus Ordo mainstream (one could call it other things but you get the point), which means the loss of so much of the beauty of the Anglican ethos and way of doing liturgy, which combines beauty (so often missing in regular N.O. settings) with truth and goodness -- and gentleness as well. A recent number of "The Economist" seems to have got it right when they quoted some person from "The Tablet" (called by Damian Thompson the "bitter pill") to the effect that the English Catholic bishops don't want to see the mass conversions of Anglican clergy because it would upset their palsy relationships with the Anglican bishops and also bring into the RC fold a lot of married but traditionally-mionded folk who would threaten the existing order (suggesting by that, the "hermeneutic of rupture" mentality that seems to prevail there). I don't see much difference in the US, either.

    So one asks prayers for this process to succeed, which I believe the Holy Fathre really wants. It is not going to be a case of these folk crawling up the cathedral steps, discalced, begging for mercy, so those of us who think this is the only way for reunion will have either to get over it or face up, now or at the hour of one's death, to having by their ill will participated in maintaining the state of disunity that so aggrieves Our Lord.

  2. Anonymous1:23 PM

    May Our Lady's dowry of the garden of England be soon returned to her Son as a gift in celebration of her glorious assumption body and soul into heaven.

    Regina angelorum, ora pro nobis.

  3. "Several Roman Catholic sources have indicated that the TAC will not be able to achieve the status of a Uniate church..." "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."

    "Uniate" refers to a process? And all this time I thought it was just the pejorative used by separated brethren to refer to us Orthodox Churches in full and happy communion with the See of Rome and Successor of Peter, Chief of the Apostle and Supreme Pontiff.

  4. Anonymous4:46 PM

    Note the fake expressions "Several Roman Catholic sources have suggested" or "indicated". These are lies. It is only ignorant journalists and their 'progressive' Catholic backers who keep bringing up the personal prelature structure over and over and over again. They are morons. The personal prelature is not even equivalent in law to to a diocese, and it cannot include lay subjects, but only "priests and deacond" (Canon 294). This is NOT coming from any legitimate authority in the Church. It is coming from brain-dead leftist journalist. The same can be said regarding the Anglican Use non-option.

    Note how Hepworth deftly mentions what Rome has said, that the TAC should not limit itself to contemporary structures. What he really means is that a uniate church is very much the preferred option, since it is not mentioned in the Code. The TAC is currently a communion of twelve national and regional churches. I would expect that it would differ in that way from a standard uniate church. In other respects, it would be like a uniate church, having its own lay subjects and its own hierarchy.

    What really gets me is that this imbeciles in the media can't get the ignorant term 'personal prelature' out of their retarded brains. There are no "Roman Catholic sources". That's a lie. They are referring to themselves.

    Peter Karl T. Perkins
    Victoria, Canada

  5. Anonymous4:52 PM

    On Woody Jones's comments:

    I would say that there never has been even the slightest chance that the TAC would want to have anything to do with the Anglican Use. It is confined to the U.S.A. and has adopted a 1983 liturgy which includes that nauseating Offertory from NewMass. Thank the good Lord that is off the table.

    The TAC does need to achieve liturgical unity but definitely not in the Anglican Use Mass. I think that the solution for them is to allow the Anglican Missal, the English Missal (which is mostly the Gregorian Mass but rendered in English) and the Sarum Missal. The national prayerbooks really need to go. They are too Protestant.

    Peter Karl T. Perkins
    Victoria, Canada

  6. Anonymous8:43 PM

    These Anglicans are to convert or 'cede' into the Latin Church. The Church in England never was 'Anglo-Catholic' or very different, opposed to Roman, in "liturgy and spirituality". Apart from the Salisbury Use of the early Medieval Roman Rite, most religious Orders in 1534 used the Roman (Curia) Missal in various editions, or their own rites.

    We can accept Evensong and Elizabethan English in an English-celebrated 'Tridentine Mass', but not a semi-Mass of Thomas Cranmer, or praises of 'Anglican liturgical history'. That is impossible for any orthodox Roman Catholic.

    You either convert, or not.

    It is not like they are a dissident Byzantine church like the Russian patriarchate. They are very different, sadly enough.

    But the TAC people seem to be accepting papal primacy and infallibility at least in radice, which is good. They are liturgically traditional and respect the Traditional Latin Mass (classical Roman Rite), as we can expect. That is fine.

  7. Anonymous8:58 PM

    Abp Hepworth is doing a good job of not revealing too much of what he knows is in store for those TAC'ers that will (D.V.) soon be received into the Roman fold. Many of whom are older and set in their ways. Many accept the Roman Catechism but they will nostalgically be reluctant to discard their BCPs. Discard them they must.

    To my way of thinking the only things an Anglican should strive to hold onto are the KJV (with the Apocrypha per the original) and the Coverdale Psalter which is part of the BCP. Beyond that, the English Missal (which incorporates those two) is the only option I see for the celebration of Mass. BTW it is the only Missal in print.

    It would be a worthy undertaking to use the Sarum Missal however there isn't an edition available suitable for the altar.

    I believe that the time is very near for the Western schism's end. With the strongest objections from Anglicans who want Rome to apologize first(for what they don't really say) and from supposed RCs who speak English as a second language. Both groups of nay sayers are loud and abusive but nevertheless a minority.

  8. Anonymous11:33 PM

    On rev'd ups comments:

    My feeling is that they will discard the regional and national prayerbooks but prefer the Anglian Missal (of 1921) to the English Missal (of 1913) or Sarum Use.

    The Anglican Missal is a fusion of the prayerbooks and the Gregorian Latin Mass. All its Anglican parts, with only one tiny and uncontroversial exception, have already been given approbation by Rome because they were all incorporated into the Anglican Use of 1983, which is a Catholic Mass. Of course, the Anglican Use has other things in it too--things no traditionalist would want, such as the Novus Ordo Offertory--, but that is beside the point here.

    Many of them in England use the English Missal but I understand that about the same number use the Anglican Missal (and some even use the Scottish prayerbook, which is more High Church than the English one). Most of them in Australia and Canada seem to be gravitating towards the Anglican Missal, however. Its advantage is that it retains those familiar Anglican prayers which are compatible with the Catholic Faith; it preserves an identity for them. I think that, outside England, many of them would find the English Missal to be unacceptable because too many of its prayers are unfamiliar.

    I think that Abp. Hepworth will allow three options to all parishes and priests: the Anglican Missal, the English Missal, and the Sarum Missal. One of them who comments on these blogs actually uses the Sarum Use almost entirely. That is an exception to the norm but should not be forbidden. It is a treasure to be preserved.

    There is only one prayer in the Anglican Missal that is not in the approved Anglican Use litugy and that is the votive prayer for the King and royal family. It corresponds to the one which has been accepted in the Anglican Use for the American government. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it and no possible theological objection to it.

    They should be allowed to keep their Psalter, their Morning Prayer, Afternoon Prayer (short and rarely used, I think), Evensong, Litany, and so on. But the forms for their Sacraments are another matter. I think that the Sarum Use forms should be used for those. None of them would care. Their marriage ritual is an adaptation of the Sarum and has been used all along in England in the Latin Church, so there's no problem there.

    But their Ordinal must go and so must those Protestant prayerbooks. Why can't they use the Sarum Ordinal? That would connect them with the pre-Reformation period better. I've noticed that Hepworth hinted at this a few months ago. He wrote quite subtly that the liturgy of the TAC must be authorised by the TAC synod of bishops. In other words, their regional and national churches do not have the final say on liturgy. That is good because a bit more uniformity is needed.

    What is appropriate for them is a uniate church. Hepworth may not want to use this term owing to its Eastern juridical (not to mention political) associations. The TAC, following an Anglican model, is a communion of regional churches, whereas Eastern churches are not. Like the Latin Church, each Eastern church has dioceses and provinces but no system of juridical primacies (exarchates being more like our missionary structures). They often have patriarchal territories which are limited in extent. So the two are not parallels but 'uniate' is the correct term in its broader sense. What is best here is a union of one hierarchy with another. They need to keep a system of dioceses, provinces, and a primacy, with lay subjects. So any 'personal prelature' is out of the question.

    Frankly, this brings us to their system of goverance. I am told that their synod of TAC bishops now has some powers which originally resided in the regional synods of bishops. That is necessary but I think that they should go further. Their current system of automous member churches reflects an earlier Erastianism which they can't have anyway (since none of their national churches are united to any secular polity). Why not abolish the national & regional groping? I suggest that they keep their primatial system and that each existing member church becoming an ecclesiastical province (only for India, Umze Kwasi Tiyopia & the U.S.A.), an exempt archdiocese (Pakistan, Canada, and perhaps Australia) , an exempt diocese (Great Britain, Pakistan, Southern Africa, Melanesia), an exempt vicariate apostolic (Japan, Ireland, the Congo, Zambia, Kenya) or prefecture apostolic (Cameroon, Mozambique). New Zealand, France, Switzerland, and Argentina would be missions sui juris under the Primate. The prefectures and missions sui juris would be headed by simple priests; some of the vicariates by simple priests and others by titular bishops. I am basing these structures on my knowledge of their populations and current situations.

    I am concerned that a communion of regional and national churches is a formula for bickering and disunity. It would be better to emphasise two points of authority: the Primate of the entire TAC and the local bishop. Once they join up, the Pope would be the third and supreme authority to guarantee unity.


  9. Anonymous4:36 PM

    Could somebody produce the texts referred to in this quote:

    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.

    The implication here is that there are "contemporary statements of Catholic Doctrine" on papal primacy and infallibility that are different from that of the definition of the First Vatican Council. Am I correct in this assumption? What is he referring to?

  10. Anonymous5:46 PM

    Thank you Mr. Perkins for you serious insight. I hope someone who matters in Rome is looking for folks like you for advice.

    I however hope that Rome will stipulate that the Anglican Missal "in the American Edition" (which is the one I presume you are referencing - there is an "Anglican Missal" printed in England in the early 20c. that excepting its artwork is rather awful) will not be an acceptable liturgy. The problems with it are:

    1) Its primary canon "The American Canon" AKA "Non-Juror's Canon" is that found in the BCP and is the one most used by ACs.
    2) It's "Gregorian Canon" i.e. Roman Canon is an inferior translation of the Latin esp. compared to the English Missal.
    3) It also contains the canon from the 1549 BCP.
    4) It is rubrically very, very wishy-washy.
    5) It is out of print and the copyright holders (the ACC) aren't interested in playing ball with anyone unless they make the rules.
    6) It would be easier to maintain discipline if all the TAC clergy were using the same missal.

    Why not make the best and perhaps only choice - the English Missal? The Sarum use Missal would be an excellent alternative but I know of no edition that is altar ready. The recently re-released Sarum Missal, translated by A.H. Pearson, only uses incipits for the lessons and gospels. It does however have sequence hymns for most major feasts including a different one for each day in Easter week. "Victimae paschali laudes" doesn't show up until Easter Friday; it also has the part about the "lying Jews" that was eliminated during Leo XIII's pontificate.

    Best to impose this discipline from the beginning rather than deal with unforseen consequences.

    Anyway, I have heard that most Anglican Use priests (not to mention traditionally minded N.O. priests) would love to use the English Missal but can't because it is not authorized. Pope Benedict could fix all that.

  11. Brad C,

    Thank you very much for raising this up. I thought about mentioning it in the post, but considered it inappropriate.

    It seems we should not suppose that the intention of the interviewee is to present an opposition between the permanent and immutable doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church on the primacy, powers, and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff, expressed with immaculate excellence in Pastor Aeternus, and what he calls the "contemporary statements of Catholic Doctrine"...

    Yet that is what it sounds like, even if it was not what was intended: an inadequate contraposition between past and present.

  12. Anonymous9:44 PM

    On rev'd ups comments:

    No, I was not referring to the American edition but to the British 1921 edition. As a Canadian and a British Empire Loyalist, I would never advocate anything American.

    I agree with you that the TAC version must use only the Roman Canon. You are absolutely right. That needs to be specified by law. The British 1921 edn. gives all the 'canons' of all the various Anglican churches as alternates, and it includes the 1549 canon as well as the 1662 one. I have a photocopy of it.

    Yes, the rubrics could be cleaned up a bit too. In a few places, the options in the ordering of prayers are unfortunate, but these are only options, so the law could also limit them. But I believe that the TAC has rectified this by specifing a certain order of prayers.

    During their Bidding Prayers, the one entitled "For the King and Council" would have to be restricted to the monarchies, and the one from the American version would have to be allowed for the republics.

    While I'd prefer the English Missal and, even more so, the Sarum one, the British edn. of the Anglican Missal is best in the circumstances, because it has more Anglican items in it. For pastoral reasons, the rite used must 'warm the hearts of Anglicans', I suppose; otherwise, it won't fly. I don't have a copy of the English Missal It includes our Gregorian Mass but with some Anglican options. But I'm not sure what they are.

    I believe that Archbishop Hepworth is leaning towards the English Missal but possibly with the New Roman Lectionary and its horrid three-year cycle. The liturgy the Australian TAC now uses (which is his liturgy) is based on the English Missal and allows for either prayerbook propers or N.O. propers. But it has no Offertory. I believe it merely allows the celebrant to use any or no Offertory prayers. The Anglican Missal specifies the Roman Offertory. That is necessary. We don't want the horrors of 'Blessed are You Lord God of all Creation' to pollute their Mass. That intrusion is what has destroyed the 1983Anglican Use Mass.

    Fr. Anthony Chadwick, one of their priests, has today sent me the Australian TAC liturgy. I have not had a chance to peruse it yet. It looks as if it may be the English Missal.


  13. Anonymous1:48 PM

    Mr. Perkins: God save us from the three year lectionary. At least if the English Missal of 1958 is authorized, its traditional lectionary can't be abrogated. I have heard that Abp Hepworth uses the English Missal. There is a TAC apostolate in Australia dedicated to the English Missal: the Priestly Fraternity of St. Martin:

    Could you pass along any information you have regarding a Sarum Missal that is altar ready?


Comment boxes are debate forums for readers and contributors of RORATE CÆLI.

Please, DO NOT assume that RORATE CÆLI contributors or moderators necessarily agree with or otherwise endorse any particular comment just because they let it stand.


(1) This is our living room, in a deeply Catholic house, and you are our guest. Please, behave accordingly. Any comment may be blocked or deleted, at any time, whenever we perceive anything that is not up to our standards, not conducive to a healthy conversation or a healthy Catholic environment, or simply not to our liking.

(2) By clicking on the "publish your comment" button, please remain aware that you are choosing to make your comment public - that is, the comment box is not to be used for private and confidential correspondence with contributors and moderators.

(3) Any name/ pseudonym/ denomination may be freely used simply by choosing the third option, "Name/URL" (the URL box may be left empty), when posting your comment - therefore, there is no reason whatsoever to simply post as "Anonymous", making debate unnecessarily harder to follow. Any comment signed simply as "Anonymous" will be blocked.

Thank you!