AUSTRALIA: Rome for breakaway Anglicans

by Barney Zwartz
December 20, 2010

ABOUT 1000 Australians are expected to join a new Anglican wing of the Catholic Church by next June, the leader of the main group of dissident Anglicans said yesterday.

A committee was set up last week to oversee the process. For the first time, Anglicans planning to switch to Rome believe they will be able to take their church properties too, which has been a stumbling block.

The conservative Anglicans have been dismayed by women’s ordination in the mainstream Australian church. Under the new arrangement, they will keep their clergy, liturgy and church structures – including appointing their own bishops – as a separate Anglican “ordinariate” inside the Roman church. Advertisement: Story continues below

Catholics, mainstream Anglicans and members of the breakaway Traditional Anglican Communion set up a nine-member committee last week to oversee the transition to the ordinariate by June 12.

TAC leader Archbishop John Hepworth said provided Anglican priests and congregations did not resign, they might be able to show “beneficial ownership” and keep the properties when they moved.

He said that in England the Archbishop of Canterbury was allowing departing Anglicans to keep using their properties, and he hoped the Australian church would too. “It would be the tolerant and godly thing to do.”

He said the ordinariate would have churches in all Australian capital cities and many regional and rural places.

The TAC has 400,000 members worldwide but only 700 in Australia.

This press report, from the ‘Melbourne Age’, is really no cause for alarm – either in Australia or New Zealand. The 1.000 people who are said to be moving into the new R.C. Ordinariate in Australia (though the report clearly says, that the :’TAC’ has only 700 members in that country) are already in schism from the Australian Anglican Province.

However, the speculation that those moving into the Ordinariate may even get to keep their present buildings could be ‘jumping the gun’. The one TAC church I know of – All Saints, Wickham Terrace in Brisbane –  (pictured here:) –

was once the Anglo-Catholic citadel of the ultra-montane in that city, but, under it’s parish priest, Fr. John Hepworth (later ‘ordained’,  first a bishop and then presiding Archbishop of TEC), severed it’s historic connection with the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane and the Australian Province – on the issue of women priests within the Anglican Communion.

Interestingly, Archbishop Hepworth, a divorced and re-married one-time Roman Catholic priest, was one of the prime movers of the world-wide ‘Traditional Anglican Church’ sodality towards this latest development of the Ordinariates. Ironically, TAC had already moved out of the official Anglican Communion; whereas the present Pope and the Vatican possibly believed that TAC was actually part and parcel of the wider Anglican Communion when the offer of refuge to dissident Anglicans was made last year.

Although TAC has a very small membership in the U.K., they will not form the greater number of ex-Anglicans who have threatened to move to the Ordinariates in Britain. The 5 Bishops who have declared that they will join the UK Ordinariate (3 ‘Flying Bishops‘ and 2 retired Bishops of the Church of England) made their own bid to move to the Roman Magisterium in the Ordinariates – separately from TAC.

So what will it mean to the Australian Anglican Church when the 700+ ex-Anglicans move into that Ordinariate in Australia? Very little one would think – considering that anyone disaffected with the idea of women clergy have already departed for TAC. Whether or not they get to keep their buildings (there cannot be many involved with a membership of 700 people) will hardly cause a stir.

However; the idea that the Archbishop of Canterbury is “allowing the departing congregations to keep using ‘their’ properties” – in England  is by no means established – especially as the buildings involved are mostly traditional local parish churches owned by the dioceses, whose interests are secured by the State! This is one of the conditions unique to the Church of England, which is by law ‘established’.

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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5 Responses to AUSTRALIA: Rome for breakaway Anglicans

  1. Andrei says:

    It looks to me that these people will be in communion with Rome under much the same structure and obligations as the Byzantine Catholics.

    If so that probably means the Pope has abandoned any future reunion of the Anglican and Catholic Churches.

    The Byzantine Catholics are a sticky point between the Pope and the Eastern Churches, one I don’t see ever being resolved but you never know.

    However the Pope and the Patriarchs are on the same page on just about everything so hopefully Europe can be purged of Heresy and bought back into the fold of Christ’s Church.

    If not a new dark age is dawning

    • kiwianglo says:

      Don’t get too excited about all of this Andrei. From your

      From your comment, it would appear that you have not been brought up to speed on what is happening (or not) with the Ordinariates. You may not have understood what has happened in England and elsewhere, where the anti-women faction in the Church of England have already been given the option, by the Vatican, of coming under Rome’s jurisdiction, but with the hope of retaining some Anglican ‘patrimony’.

      I now understand better, though, where you are coming from, and it aint from ‘our’ bank of the Tiber. Happy Christmas,any way! But don’t get your hopes up!

  2. Thanks for this update, Fr Ron.
    I don’t believe a word of the “400,000” TAC membership. I even strongly doubt the “700” TAC membership in Aus – but happy to be shown to be wrong. I saw photographs of the TAC UK synod meeting, which was the same dozen or so people photographed from different angles in a borrowed church building. This is clearly the sort of group that gets heated about women in ministry (about which Jesus said nothing) and committed gay relationships (about which Jesus said nothing) but has no issues with divorce and remarriage (about which Jesus did teach). Under the Vatican rules, Hepworth won’t be able to function as a priest. It will be fascinating to watch Vatican spin to even allow Hepworth to receive communion! I think your suggestion that the Vatican didn’t realise TAC isn’t part of the Anglican Communion particularly fascinating.

  3. kieran crichton says:

    Just a quick correction to some of your remarks, Father.

    All Saints, Whickham Terrace, is still a parish of the Diocese of Brisbane. As far as I know, John Hepworth was never the rector there. His wikipedia entry (linked from the article you quoted) makes it clear that he had the Anglican phase of his ministry in the Diocese of Ballarat. Perhaps you meant Fr David Chislett?

    Things have not gone so smoothly at Whickham Terrace since Fr Chislett departed. One token of this is that the parish website seems stuck in aspic, and isn’t maintained very well — some of the pages are simply bizzarre, and the articles are quite something else in the extreme. All Saints’ website is here:

    Not being a Brisbane native, I don’t know what moves are afoot around in the ordinariate at Whickham Terrace.

    • kiwianglo says:

      Thank you, Kieran, for your up-date on information about Fr.John Hepworth, now Archbishop of TAC.

      I notice that the most recent rector, Fr. David Chislett, took up his ministry there in the 1990’s. Would it have been possible that Fr. John Hepworth had ever been Rector of All Saints? My Australian source named him as one-time Rector – before he took up his association with TAC and became it’s latest Primate/Archbishop. Obviously this source was incorrect if what you say is true.

      However, my own contact with A.S. Wickham Terrace dates back to 1975-78, as a member of the Anglican Franciscan Community in Brisbane. Some of us went along occasionally to All Saints for the ultra-montane worship then offered there. Therefore, it was no surprise to be told later that the parish had become a TAC-friendly parish. If the parish is still a part of the Brisbane Anglican Archdiocese, there has some mistake made by my sources in Brisbane. I’m glad you drew my attention to it, and I profoundly apologise for any misconception on the part of readers of this blog to the contrary Mea maxima culpa!.

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