Friday, February 19, 2016

More On The Patrimony Of The Primate

A visitor asks, "What will St Mary's be affiliated with, besides Hepworth? Are there any other parishes or groups in the Patrimony?" As far as I know, there are no others active, but this leads me to further examination of the Patrimony issue.

A couple of years ago, I sent an e-mail to David Moyer asking him if he could provide a list of parishes that had been in the Patrimony, and what their ultimate fates had been. Moyer never replied -- this is too bad, since he, as bishop, would have been the definitive source.

In a "To Whom It May Concern" letter dated February 3, 2014, Abp Hepworth refers to the Patrimony as a provision of the TAC that had been in existence prior to Anglicanorum coetibus, which he used in the early 2000s to resolve conflicts between Bishop Robin Connors and a Portland, OR parish. He said, "The US bishops were unhappy, but accepted the legitimacy of my actions." Hepworth went on to say that he implemented the provisions of the Patrimony once again to prevent canonical and legal action by US bishops against parishes that had determined to enter the US-Canadian Ordinariate.

In a separate move, Bishop Louis Campese of the ACA Diocese of the Eastern US resigned as an ACA bishop in early 2011 and withdrew about half the parishes in that diocese into the Pro-Diocese of the Holy Family, which was not in the Patrimony of the Primate. The reason was the same, to protect parishes from the actions of Presiding Bishop Marsh and others. Beyond that, the exact status of other ACA parishes or ACA-derived groups, like the Fellowship of St Alban, Rochester NY, isn't completely clear to me, as the circumstances of that group's formation involve opposition by Bishop Marsh and the ACA parish's ACA priest, who, however, passed away during the transition. (UPDATE: Prof Jordan has clarified that his group was not in the Patrimony.)

So there is a class of ACA or ACA-derived parishes or groups that intended to enter the Ordinariate and suffered adverse action from the ACA but may or may not have actually been under the Patrimony of the Primate, Moyer, and Hepworth. At this stage, I would invite anyone with specific knowledge of what happened in those circumstances to let me know the details, as the historical record should be preserved.

Without better confirmation, I am fairly certain that the following groups or parishes were in fact in the Patrimony during 2011-2012:

  • St Mary of the Angels Hollywood
  • Holy Cross Mission Honolulu
  • St Columba Lancaster CA
  • St Aidan Des Moines
  • Holy Family Payson AZ
I will be extremely grateful for corrections and additions to this list and will update it here as I receive them. The historical record is important. It's worth pointing out that of the current list, only Holy Family Payson actually entered the Ordinariate, a symptom in part of the bungling that characterized the establishment of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter. Indeed, I've had e-mail exchanges with two clergy associated with these groups who emerged embittered from the unsuccessful process of trying to join the OCSP. However, the specific circumstances for each group's non-entry were unique.

It's important to note that the St Mary of the Angels parish voted to revise its bylaws in early 2011 to reflect its exit from the ACA and membership in the Patrimony of the Primate. Due to a technicality, counsel advised the vestry to hold a second election on that question in August 2012, which also passed. It was this election that the courts eventually recognized as legally establishing the parish's membership in the Patrimony.

The parish's bylaws have established its membership in the Patrimony, which, according to Abp Hepworth, whose personal creation the Patrimony is, continues in existence. Whether other parishes or groups are currently active in it is not really relevant. The most important thing is that the affiliation is legally and canonically valid, it has protected the parish from the most severe attacks, and it keeps the parish's options open.

Whether, as my visitor has subsequently mused, the Patrimony as a denomination currently of one parish gives anyone leverage is an interesting question. I would point out, though, that the fact that St Mary of the Angels remains outside the OCSP is a major conundrum for the whole Anglo-Catholic project, not just Anglicanorum coetibus. I'll discuss the implications of this in future posts.