Rorate Caeli

Traditional Anglican Communion in Britain votes for Ordinariate

To update our readers on the Traditional Anglican Communion's progress towards conversion and integration into the Catholic Church, the weblog Signum is reporting the following:

The Traditional Anglican Communion in the UK voted last Thursday (October 29th) to request that they form part of the proposed Ordinariate in the UK. During the Forward in Faith conference Archbishop Hepworth of the TAC had stated that the motion would be placed before the Synod of the Traditional Anglican Church in the UK (and other Synods of the TAC) that the Apostolic Constitution of Benedict XVI be accepted and that its immediate implementation be requested.The website of the TAC in the UK is now reporting that the following resolution was passed:

"The Resolutions

"That this Assembly, representing the Traditional Anglican Communion in Great Britain, offers its joyful thanks to Pope Benedict XVI for his forthcoming Apostolic Constitution allowing the corporate reunion of Anglicans with the Holy See, and requests the Primate and College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion to take the steps necessary to implement this Constitution.

"That this Assembly is of the respectful opinion that Bishop Robert Mercer CR might be considered for the position of Ordinary in Great Britain."

This is not unexpected as the TAC was the group that had approached Rome, and Archbishop Hepworth had publicly stated that the offer of the "ordinariates" exceeded their expectations.

The TAC in the UK numbers about twenty parishes (they also have one in France). Some of these parishes would be more accurately described as mass centres rather than parishes in the full sense of the word.

This is good news as it is the first indication that the Pope's offer is being accepted.

Let us all continue to pray for the conversion of Anglicans and Episcopalians and for their reunion with the Catholic Church.


Anonymous said...

I note that Bishop Mercer, who is in early retirement in England, was formerly the TAC Bishop for Canada. Many years before that, he was an Anglican Bishop in Africa. To my recollection, he is unmarried. He is currently serving as a sort of 'patriarchal figure' for the TAC in England.

There are about fifteen to twenty parishes in the TAC in England but only two of them have churches of their own. One is the large Anglo-Catholic Church in Portsmouth which they've managed to acquire or lease. The other one, I think, is north of London (Chelmsford?).

What is important here is that TAC is not waiting for Forward in Faith, while it dithers. It is asking for an ordinariate even before the text of the apostolic constitution has been published, and it is suggesting Bishop Mercer as its first ordinary. That, in my view, is excellent news. The best situation is that an English ordinariate be established on some basis, thereby creating an option FiF will have to consider.

Whether FiF will have a separate ordinariate (or three, one for each of its dioceses) or will come under an existig one now becomes an open question as well. This is how it should be. I am so pleased that the TAC in England is not waiting for FiF to make up its mind.


Andrew said...

Wonderful! The constitution has not even been published, and these guys vote to accept it. No need to see the fine print, study it carefully and ponder the ramifications; no need to stick the finger in the wounds.

What a great gesture of faith and trust.

Anonymous said...

I have just confirmed that Bishop Robert Mercer is unmarried and celibate. He is about 71 or 72 years old as far as I can recall. He lives in Worthing, West Sussex, about 25 miles from Portsmouth, where the TAC has its large church (one of two it can call its own).

I can't recall if their vicar-general, Canon Gray, is married or not. It would be wonderful to have Mercer as the first ordinary. From the time he was in Canada, I've heard that he was in the extreme Anglo-Catholic party of Anglicanism. One of their priests tells me that he is also a 'character'. Given his age, he might be a transitional figure and would put things on a very good footing.


Anonymous said...

Dear Andrew:

Thank you for that comment. I had forgotten to mention it and you make an excellent point. The TAC in England has voted to accept the offer EVEN BEFORE the apostolic constitution has been published! That spells commitment and trust.

I reiterate that it is also significant that the TAC in England will not wait for Forward-in-Faith to dither ad nausem. This is extremely important. If the Pope grants the TAC an ordinarate pronto (i.e. by Lent), it gives Anglicans a place to go and therefore puts pressure on FiF.

While the TAC in England is very small, having only 16 priests and one bishop, and about twenty parishes which have, in turn, only two church buidlings of their own, I expect growth to come from the following:

1. Previous converts from Anglicanism, who are now stuck in the N.O.M.;

2. Other Anglo-Catholic Anglicans, whether from the FiF or otherwise, people who are sick to death of the nonsense in the Church of England;

3. Members of other independent Anglican groups. Apparently, a number of these groups have approached Rome recently as well.

4. Cradle Catholics who have the sense not to like the N.O. and who have no T.L.M. easily available to them. These will come especially from the Latin parishes where the TAC has parishes.

Under the new arrangement, the ordinary (Bishop Mercer, e.g.) could ask local Latin (and even Eastern) bishops for use of their churches for Anglican-Catholic Masses. Most bishops will not dare to refuse, althuogh the new boys will have to take the less convenient times, like 11.30 a.m. and 6.00 a.m.


Anonymous said...

Laus Deo!

dcs said...

If this is the right Bp. Mercer, then he is 74 years old (he'll be 75 in January):

It is interesting that he is a religious - in fact it seems his community is semi-monastic.

Anonymous said...


Yes, he is 74. But the Pope can appoint people of such ages in special circumstances. In particular, Eastern patriarchs are often appointed in their mid-seventies and stay on to death. Mercer is a sort of unofficial patriarch (in the common sense of the term) for the entire TAC.

I think he'll get the position and keep it for life or until he asks to resign owing to illness. At present, his health is good.


Alfonsus said...

Why would TAC be waiting for FiF? They are not in communion and not member of FiF.

Although the text of apostolic constitution is not yet published, I believed some kind of "internal" release between the Holy See and TAC (and other Anglican bishops in discussion), perhaps in draft form, already circulating through ongoing discussion already established.

Anonymous said...

Mr Perkins,

Do you know what the T.A.C. is called in America, and if there are any of their churches in North Carolina?
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Alfonsus wrote:

"Why would TAC be waiting for FiF? They are not in communion and not member of FiF."

Actually, they are 'in communion'. FiF bishops in some places (e.g. Australia) double as TAC bishops. Archbishop Hepworth flew to England largely in the hopes of effecting a merger with FiF. From what I can tell, FiF essentially said, as usual, Let us consider the matter. So the TAC just went ahead without them.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Hunter:

The TAC body in the U.S.A. is known as the Anglican Church *in* (not 'of') America. It has parishes in N.C. in its Diocese of the Eastern America, at Jacksonville, Waynesville, Durham, and Franklin. Go here:

and scroll down through the listings on the right.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Hunter:

A word of warning: their parish at Waynesville is 'evangelical', meaning that it's like our looney charismoronics, who are not Catholic in the true sense, of course. Frankly, I don't even converse with charismatics. I certainly wouldn't be caught dead at one of their shindings.

The other three parishes seem to be all right. Three of the four in N.C. are missions worshipping in other people's churches. Once they come across, however, they will be likely be worshipping in Catholic churches (mostly Latin).


Symeon said...


"Our next step will be to study the Apostolic Constitution that has been developed for the purpose of providing a structure to any inter-communion arrangement."

I'm not sure the American TAC "bishop" of the diocese linked to by PKTP has understood the arrangement. It is not question of "intercommunion arrangements", it is a matter of the Pope letting non-priest and non-bishops with a pretty much catholic faith be ordained real priests despite many of them are married, and letting them keep a liturgical tradition they've developed, despite them never having had valid Orders or mandate to develop changes in any liturgy whatsoever.

The Pope is beeing very generous, and I am happy for that and for those who accept the offer, but I sincerely hope the "bishop" quoted above is alone within the TAC in having the delusion of this being a matter of establishing a "intercommunion arrengement". It is a generous offer to *convert* and still get to keep - or more accurately: get - what you never really had: A valid non-N.O. liturgy, and Holy Orders.

John Gill said...

The reality of the TAC in the United Kingdom is pathetic. It has barely eighteen churches and many of these are cemetery chapels, back bedrooms in private houses, shared accommodation with Episcope Vagantes and, of course, the former St Agatha's, Landport, in Portsmouth. As for the last, it is used more for guitar concerts than worship and when worship does take place it has a very small congregation. Inside the church looks like a junk shop.

More seriously, the majority of clergy are elderly but others have had no formal theological education or training and invariably are oddballs. Their lay following can be counted in tens rather than hundreds. As a body it has no bearing on the religious life of England and hardly anybody has heard of it.

The TAC may be different abroad, I have had no experience of it, but the problem of divorced and remarried clerical and lay members (including many divorced and remarried Catholics) is serious and will create a canonical minefield. I cannot help wondering how closely the Vatican investigated the reality of this body before recommending the Holy Father to make his invitation.

In short, the TAC in the United Kingdom is largely moonshine and it is no wonder that it has made a bid for credibility, given that at present and in the future it has none at all within the British Isles.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Gill:

Your description of the TAC in England depicts it as only a little more pathetic than it is in Canada. It is indubitable that it has a very small following in most countries. What is important, however, is its ability to serve as a 'beachhead' to Rome in the Anglican tradition. I expect that many of the TAC Masses in England and elsewhere will be moved to Catholic churches in the future. Having these ordinariates and support from the Pope will raise its standing somewhat and it will become much more important (although still not very important) in the future than it has been in the past. It sets an important precedent and provides a way forward for other Anglicans who wish to cross the Tiber. That is why this is all rather exciting.

In closing, I note that the Pope did not devise this arrangement for the TAC alone or in response to the TAC's petition, and Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos indicated some time ago that a number of Anglican bishops had made similar petitions which were being considered. It will be interesting to see who they are and how many.


Anonymous said...


I generally agree with your statement, although the status of the TAC's orders is 'mixed', since many of them have had Old Catholic bishops participate in their ordinations. But your point is correct because you are referring to them as a body.

I think that Mr. Gill is also correct that the matter of their eligibility to be clerics (and, in some cases, even laics who can received Holy Communion) will be a 'minefield' for Rome. I am supposing that each candidate for a Holy Order must be thorougly invesigated, which will not be easy in India, where we don't even know who their clerics are and we can't count the laity, which just wanders in to Mass. I'm betting that the apostolic constituion will delegate some of this investigative work to local Latin hierarchies.


Anonymous said...


I could not help but notice that H.H. received in separate audiences today William Cardinal Levada and Walter Cardinal Kasper.

I expect that the former must might possibly present him with a document to sign. As for the latter, let's just hope that the Pope wants to accept his resignation and wish him well in his future endeavours.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Gill writes:

"More seriously, the majority of clergy are elderly but others have had no formal theological education or training and invariably are oddballs."

Well, I don't think that they're oddballs just for this reason. As for the theological training, we must keep in mind that they are coming originally from the heretical Church of England, that false sect which suppressed the One True Church by force, hanging the true priests from their belltowers in the Western Rising. Theological training from it is not reliable.

It is true, of course, that small groups of rebels from any larger group will always attract some eccentrics and even some oddballs. That, I think, is a problem in the S.S.P.X too, where at least 90% of the priests are sound but many in the remaining 10% cause eyebrows to be raised. The stability which will come from Rome will likely settle matters a bit.


Anonymous said...

A quick note from one Canadian to another (PKTP, I'd appreciate your insight on this one):

I'm probably one of a very few traditionalist Roman Catholics in Canada who still prays for his Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II and her salvation.

Is there any indication whether the Queen considers herself a TAC member, and whether she is ready to cross the Channel and the Tiber into St Peter's Kingdom?

In this man's humble view, that would be huge news indeed.

God Save the Queen! (In the truest Catholic sense of the word).

In JMJ, Toronto, Canada

Anonymous said...

"The reality of the [] is pathetic.... More seriously, the majority of clergy... have had no formal theological education or training and invariably are oddballs. Their lay following can be counted in tens rather than hundreds. As a body it has no bearing on the religious life of [] and hardly anybody has heard of it."

The same could be said of the Apostles, as well as of the people who brought Christianity to various parts of the world. If God's sense of humor causes Him to make the TAC His vehicle to raise up a fully Catholic Anglicanism, what else can we say but "thanks be to God"?

Anonymous said...


I pray for the Queen's conversion too, usually according the format used in England, and usually after every Mass.

It is humanly improbable that H.M. will cross the Tiber, and for all sorts of reasons. For one thing, she'd forfeit the Crown under current law. For another, the Queen usually signals a more Low Church Protestant chuchmanship, as the Anglicans call it. On the other side, H.M. is socially conservative (e.g. strongly opposed to abortion) and does not like womanpriest; in fact, she keeps the priestesses at bay from her person.

The Prince of Wales is Anglo-Catholic and would love to cross the Tiber but, again, it would mean giving up the throne. There are some royals who might cross over. The Duchess of Kent, wife of the Queen's cousin, did so a few years ago. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was Anglo-Catholic I'm told. I believe that the Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester might be as well, although I could be misremembering on that one. I really like him, by the way. He would have been the best of the bunch to succeed H.M. Oh, well . . . .


Anonymous said...

I've been surfing references to the TAC in England on the Internet and the results are depressing indeed. Take one. They have St Agatha's, Landport, in Portsmouth, a former Anglo-Catholic shrine. The Mystery Worshipper despatched by the Ship of Fools website visited it and found 27 people present at a Sunday Mass: 17 in the sanctuary, 10 in the congregation. This is their principal church. What does this say of the abysmal reality elsewhere?

Jordanes said...

It has been reported numerous times that the TAC has very few members in Britain. Most of their membership live in Australia and Asia, I believe.

The vote of the TAC's British synod is just the first of their synodical votes to take place. There will soon be other votes.

Anonymous said...


Tornielli and several other sites are now claiming that an apostolic constitution on the Anglican ordinariates will likely be published tomorrow and will bear the title "Anglicanorum Coetibus".

Since tomorrow has already come in Rome, the moderators might keep their eyes peeled.


Jordanes said...

Thanks for the alert, Mr. Perkins.

One would have to wonder if the Holy Father's audiences with Cardinal Levada and Cardinal Kasper on Friday night had anything to do with this. The Vatican website does not show anything new at this time, but we'll check again soon.

Anonymous said...

On recent comments on the TAC:

Everyone relax! We should have a deep and abiding sympathy for the TAC people. They grew up Anglican instead of Catholic, which was certainly not their plan as toddlers. Their Paddington bears did not recommend this course of formation. They remained true to their upbringing and essential Christian doctrine and have suffered very grievously for this. Imagine being thrown out of the parish churches where generations of your family were Baptized, married, and buried, and this done so as to bring in priestesses and, now, sodomarriage.

The TAC is very small and has few resources in most Western countries. In Canada, the U.S.A., Australia, South Africa, and, above all, in England, the TAC 'Anglo' congregations are tiny and they mostly worship in rented chapels and halls, having very few of their own buildings. The TAC in Ireland has only three parishes for the entire Island, one in the Republic and two in the six counties. In N.Z., it has only one parish on North Island and one on South Island, neither of which has its own church building. The TAC in the U.S.A. is a bit more impressive than in the Commonwealth nations. This is because Americans, of course, are better businessmen than the rest of us and know how to make money! So at least some of their parishes do have their own churches, though not the majority.

The story is very different in India and much of Africa, where the TAC has very large congregations. They have ten dioceses in India and two of these joined them recently from mainstream Anglicanism, bringing all their property with them, I believe. Also in India, a court recognised that the TAC is the successor of the Church of North India (Anglican), giving them all the property. The story I heard is that jaws dropped in amazement as this unknown group picked up all the old churches built by the Colonel Mustards of the 1880s. Hilarious. The problem is that their metropolitan there has had to appoint a special legal committee to fend off all the other Anglicans who are suing them to get pieces of it.

In Western countries, we should see the TAC as an absolutely orthodox and reliable group of new Catholics, old style, who will ensure that the new ordinariates are traditionalist in character. These will then serve as appropriate loci for future conversions from Anglicanism, which might be quite large, esp. in England. If the ditherers in Forward-in-Faith come across, which they surely will after they procrastinate for as long as they can, we shall bring in 800 to 1,000 Church of England clergy, possibly with large congregations and some property.

Before he retired, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos indicated that not only the TAC but a several other Anglican bishops and groups had applied for membership in the Church. So keep in mind that these new structues are not simply a response to the TAC petition of 2007.

The TAC will ask for and likely get access to Latin Churches for the great majority of its parishes in Western countries. I predict that this association with Latin parishes will increase TAC congregations. For one thing, it will bring in faithful who converted from Anglicanism in the past. Secondly, it will bring in conservative N.O. faithful who live far from a Traditional Latin Mass, plus some other who want a reverent Mass but prefer the vernacular. It will also bring in other Anglican converts. So look upon the provision as an opportunity for future growth and not as a rescue of a few shipwrecked souls in a lifeboat launched from the Titanic.


blackshama said...

Anglicans are not "converted'! They just come home.

Jordanes said...

No one can "come home" without conversion.