by Barney Zwartz
December 20, 2010
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’.