The Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion has responded to the Vatican’s announcement of a new provision for Anglicans who wish to convert to Catholicism, saying his church is “profoundly moved” by Pope Benedict’s generosity. He added that the provision will now be taken to the national synods of his Communion.
In an Oct. 20 statement published on the website of the communion’s The Messenger Journal, Traditional Anglican Communion Primate Archbishop John Hepworth said he had been speaking with bishops, priests and lay people of the Communion in England, Africa, Australia, India, Canada, the U.S. and South America about the recent news.
“We are profoundly moved by the generosity of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI,” Archbishop Hepworth wrote. He said the creation of the canonical structure for Anglicans was an act of “great goodness” on the part of Pope Benedict and his “cause of unity.”
“It more than matches the dreams we dared to include in our petition of two years ago. It more than matches our prayers. In those two years, we have become very conscious of the prayers of our friends in the Catholic Church. Perhaps their prayers dared to ask even more than ours,” the Traditional Anglican archbishop added.
He praised the “pastoral nature” of the notes released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and also noted that his fellow bishops have signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
In that 2007 event, Traditional Anglican bishops signed the Catechism and placed it on the altar of the historic National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk, England in order to attest to “the faith we aspire to teach and hold.”
The signed Catechism was later presented to then-Fr. Augustine Di Noia, OP, the senior ecumenical theologian at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Di Noia has since been consecrated an archbishop and named Secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship.
Archbishop Hepworth also discussed the statement issued by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the most senior prelate in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.
The statement shows that Archbishop Williams does not stand in traditional Anglicans’ way, he said.
“Both his reaction and our petition are fruits of a century of prayer for Christian unity, a cause that many times must have seemed forlorn,” Archbishop Hepworth commented, expressing gratitude to Archbishop Williams.
Archbishop Hepworth reported that the response of the Holy See will be taken to each of the Traditional Anglican Communion’s National Synods. While these synods have already endorsed “our pathway,” the archbishop explained, they will now consider the specific structures proposed.
He closed his message by referring to the Te Deum, a traditional Christian prayer of thanksgiving.
“It is with heartfelt thanks to Almighty God, the Lord and Source of all peace and unity, that the hymn is on our lips today,” the archbishop said. “This is a moment of grace, perhaps even a moment of history, not because the past is undone, but because the past is transformed.”