Trad Anglicans endure trials awaiting unity

28 Jan 2009

By The Record

By Anthony Barich
The Holy See’s openness towards the TAC’s request for full unity with
the Roman Catholic Church has energised the TAC to embrace its own
sufferings around the globe in anticipation of unity, the worldwide
Communion’s primate has told The Record.


South Australian Archbishop John Hepworth, the Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, walks among a group of 400 of the faithful who he recently confirmed in Kenya. Below left, Bishop Gene Robinson smiles after being installed as head of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire, in 2003.


Archbishop John Hepworth, the Adelaide-based Primate of the TAC told
The Record: “The mere fact that we’ve asked (Rome for communion), has
changed us.  We are now looking on ourselves and other Anglicans in a
quite different light.”
The TAC, which exists in 42 countries, has gone through many trials,
especially in the Third World where their numbers are greatest, and
sometimes at the hands of other Christian denominations. But it is all
worth it, he says, as their eyes are on the ultimate prize – full,
sacramental and corporate union with Rome.
“It has been a good year for our Communion,” Archbishop Hepworth told
his faithful in a recent letter for Advent and Christmas. 
“Sin and wickedness have touched us, but we have glimpsed greatness as
we have seen our people respond.  We are in a very real sense a people
waiting … as we ‘watch and pray’ for the unity, visible and
Eucharistic, for which we have worked and prayed so long.”
Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith, wrote to Archbishop Hepworth on July 5, 2008 assuring him
of the “serious attention which the Congregation gives to the prospect
of corporate unity” raised in a letter signed by all TAC bishops and
delivered personally to the Holy See together with a signed affirmation
and copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 2007.
As they await the Holy See’s expected announcement over the coming
weeks, the TAC has endured considerable trials. A decades-long dispute
stems from the creation of the Church of South India – an amalgamation
of Protestant churches – when England granted India freedom from
colonial rule in 1947. Many Anglicans refused to abandon traditional
Anglicanism. These and their descendants have joined the TAC but are
being legally challenged for their land by Protestants still running
court cases against them.
In South America, where the TAC’s new Spanish Province is based, the
violence of drug lords, poverty and crime has drastically affected
domestic life. However some Episcopal Church [the name used for the
Anglican Communion in many parts of the Americas] mission districts
have disengaged from a Church they see as has intensely liberal and
joined the TAC.
In many countries, Archbishop Hepworth told The Record, “we are adding
new national groups as well as new parishes who in most cases are
joining us from the Anglican Communion either due to the spread of
women’s ordination and other liberal problems or because they are
enthused by the prospect of unity with the Holy See.”
In Pakistan, where, he says, “to celebrate (Christ’s) birth except in
secret will invite death”, the TAC has underground bishops. The
Archbishop visits his fellow faithful using an identity that does not
identify him as a priest.
The prelate also mentioned in his Christmas and Advent address the
inspiration of the “sacrificial witness” in Japan of Bishop Raphael
Kajiwara of Yokohama who, when the Japanese Anglican Church started
ordaining women, eventually resigned. Bishop Kajiwara now heads the TAC
province in Japan and ministers to Anglicans who do not accept the
ordination of women and other changes.
Signs of TAC growth include:
l 11 new churches are being built in Kenya. Archbishop Hepworth visited
16 new parishes there, opening 11 new church buildings and confirmed
380 newly baptised people all of whom converted from paganism. “They
have simply been evangelised by newly-energised clergy who have come to
the TAC from Anglicanism,” Hepworth said.
l Traditional Anglicanism has prospered in Cameroon where Anglicanism
has historically been strong because of British influence, but where it
has now become increasingly liberal. The TAC has grown despite the
profound poverty in many poor districts where its adherents often
gather in ‘mud churches’.
l In the south of India, new ‘churches’ gather on flat rooftops and in
unfinished buildings. In one area approximately 500km south of Mumbai
near Bangalore, one congregation has been meeting led by a deacon on
top of an eight-storey building, where they built a grass shelter.
Mainly young families, they are studying to prepare to become
Eucharistic Christians.
l In France and Switzerland the TAC is attracting Anglicans estranged
from their faith. “We can form missions to minister to the English
living in [the European Union] without stepping on Catholic toes,”
Archbishop Hepworth said.
l In South Africa, despite being one of the more aggressively liberal
Anglican regions, there are 90 TAC parishes and the number is growing.
One TAC bishop has focused on gathering and educating TAC clergy who
otherwise would spend most of their time “in lonely isolation from each
other”.  A new altar linen and vestment-making business has been
established; profits will help make that Church less dependent on
missionary giving.
l Canada has been a “powerhouse of support” to Hepworth’s work as TAC
Primate, with three churches being overseen by three TAC bishops.
l In the US, where many developments such as the consecration of openly
practicing homosexual clergy or women bishops have caused deep
controversy within the Anglican Church the TAC provides havens “of
peace and beauty” for alienated faithful in its parishes
l In New Zealand, “among the most abusively liberal Anglican
environments anywhere, we at last have parishes emerging and ministries
being developed, and two newly ordained deacons studying for the
priesthood”, he said.
l In the Torres Strait, the tenth anniversary of TAC’s work is being
celebrated with comprehensive planning for the future of its work in
that region.
l In Australia, where “for 20 years, we have been sorely tested and
richly blessed,” Hepworth said, the TAC had taken the “daring step” of
basing three regional bishops – Harry Entwistle in Perth, David Robarts
in Melbourne and David Chislett in Brisbane to serve both the TAC and
Forward in Faith Australia, a group of traditionalists still in the
Anglican communion.
The TAC has also cooperated in shared Lenten and Advent services with
local Roman Catholic parishes, as in Rockhampton, where it also shares
a Catholic church for Sunday services.
In Melbourne and Perth, the TAC uses Catholic convent chapels in the
city, and Bishop Harry Entwistle has a good rapport with Catholic
Archbishop Barry Hickey. TAC’s church school on the Gold Coast has just
achieved 2000 enrolments from pre-school to university entrance. “We
thank God for the places where we are being tried, and the places where
we are being rewarded. We pray for the unity of His body, still at
times seemingly that of a Child,” Archbishop Hepworth said.