Friday, 11 April 2008

Christian and Anglican and Catholic and Traditional and ......

I am happy to use all the above nomenclature to describe myself, though some would have thoughts on whether I fit some, any or all of these descriptive categories.
But that's by the way.
I had an interesting conversation yesterday with John Hepworth, former Roman Catholic priest, former Anglican priest and now the 'Archbishop' of the so-called 'Traditional Anglican Communion'(here).
We were both emptying our mail boxes at Blackwood Post Office! Hepworth actually lives within the geographical bounds of my parish, and has a small conventicle which ironically (but perhaps prophetically) used to be a Congregational Church!
The church now styled, strangely, St Etheldreda in the Hills reflects, I suspect, Hepworth's fascination with the quaint ways of Anglicanism. It has a sign outside which indeed says "Traditional Anglican Communion"; a euphemism for one of the groups of breakaway churches of the last three decades. My question is how can a church which has broken away from its roots describe itself as 'traditional', how can a church which is clearly not in communion with the See of Canterbury describe itself as 'Anglican' (No! Hepworth did not get an invitation to Lambeth); and which actually defines itself by removing itself from the 'Communion' be so described.(I have railed about this
On a pragmatic level I constantly get asked what St E's is all about, and have to tell folk that it's nothing to do with me...I tell them to go and have a look and suspect that most traditional Anglicans of my ilk would find little that would sit comfortably with their sense of being Anglican at all. They are of course anti-women's ordination. They seem to be opposed to modern language liturgy. And they like to dress-up!
Hepworth (strangely, given his origins) aggressively seems to court the Roman Catholic Church...and what he styles "the now famous letter" to the Holy See to seek some sort of recognition for his mob from the Roman Catholic Church is apparently the substance of active consideration in and around, before or after the Lambeth Conference.
I have no way of knowing how seriously the Roman Communion takes that letter, or how concerned they might be about taking Hepworth(and others) back into their bosom
In his inimitable way he talks of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope as 'Rowan' and 'Benedict' respectively, as though the three of them are equals.
Which I imagine in his mind they might be!

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