Tuesday, 29 July 2008


WASHINGTON (Catholic Online) – For several years reports have been floating around the Internet about an independent group – The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) – seeking full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Some within the Roman Catholic Church as well as other Anglican groups quickly dismissed the seriousness with which the Holy See would be viewing this.

The TAC recently released a letter they received from Cardinal Levada of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office responsible for such relationships. The communiqué made it very clear, without going into specific, that the request from the TAC is being seriously scrutinized. The Cardinal also indicated that the recent activities in the Anglican Communion (per se) did complicate the matters somewhat.

In the most recent issue of the The Messenger Journal, the newsletter of the TAC, Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion stated:

“My Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, It is my great pleasure to be able to attach a copy of a letter I received this morning (25 July 2008) from Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, via the Apostolic Nuncio in Australia. It is a letter of warmth and encouragement… This letter should encourage our entire Communion, and those friends who have been assisting us.”

In his July 5, 2008 letter, Cardinal Levada wrote, “Over the course of the past year, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has studied the proposals which you presented on behalf of the House of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion during your visit to the office if this Dicastery on October 9, 2007. As the summer months approach, I wish to assure you of the serious attention which the Congregation gives to the prospect of corporate unity raised in that letter.

In referencing the turmoil in the Anglican Communion in general, the Cardinal stated that the situation within the historic jurisdiction “has become markedly more complex during this same period.” He promised to inform the TAC when his office is in a position to respond more definitely to the proposal they have put forth.

The original reports, from a few years ago, indicated that the TAC had petitioned the Vatican to come into full communion while being allowed “sui juris” status, which meant that their bishops would maintain episcopal authority over their jurisdictions while still being in full communion. This part of the request separates the TAC from other groups who have sought a relationship, as others acknowledged their willingness to surrender their episcopal faculties.

Some in the Roman Catholic Church who are aware of the new initiatives available to Anglicans through the Pastoral Provision, established by Pope John Paul II, have said that the TAC will not make much headway if they hold on too tight to their episcopates. Even the most recent meetings between the “flying bishops” of the Anglican Communion and Rome acknowledged that the bishops would not continue in their episcopal role.

From all indications, Rome may first need to address the overall issue with the worldwide Anglican Communion and the request of some bishops for reception of their parishes before they are able to give any further attention to the TAC request.

The Traditional Anglican Communion describes themselves as a worldwide association of Orthodox Anglican Churches. They report having 400,000 communicants on 6 continents. Members groups include the following:

In Europe: The Traditional Anglican Church (England) and The Church of Ireland - Traditional Rite

In Africa: The Anglican Church in Southern Africa - Traditional Rite, The Church of Umzi Wase Tiyopia, and The Continuing Anglican Church in Zambia

In the Americas: The Anglican Church in America, The Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, The Missionary Diocese of Central America, and The Missionary Diocese of Puerto Rico

In Asia: The Anglican Church of India, The Orthodox Church of Pakistan, and The Nippon Kirisuto Sei Ko Kai (Japan)

In Australia: The Anglican Catholic Church of Australia and The Church of Torres Strait


Andrew said...

The question of the episcopacy arises because in the Apostolic Churches, both of the East and West, bishops are not married. In the East, this discipline is observed by only promoting monastics to the episcopate.

So married TAC bishops are a no-no. I believe in the letter to Rome, they have expressed a willingness to forgo their offices in the cause of unity.

Augustine said...

I certainly hope so. On the other had, I suppose we have to remember that there is no dogmatic impediment to marriage in the episcopate, allowing for a dispensation of canon law. Fortunately that option seems entirely unnecessary. :-)