Thursday, June 21, 2018

Hepworth And The Blogs

Regarding Abp Hepworth, my regular correspondent writes,
I agree that the process of Hepworth's removal as TAC Primate was a kangaroo court, shall we say, but I am somewhat sympathetic to the predicament of those who must deal with the sort of person who feels that he was demonstrably innocent of any financial wrongdoing at the parish of Gleneig, because "the bishop refused to confirm anything," while never retracting his allegations against Msgr Dempsey despite his being formally cleared by police, Department of Public Prosecutions, and Church investigations during which Hepworth was interviewed eight times. The term "pathological liar" is too lurid, but we have all met the sort of person for whom the truth is an entirely subjective concept unsusceptible to objective refutation.

Campbell, Smuts, and Chadwick were conspicuous spokespersons for Hepworth's version of the truth until it gradually dawned on them that they had been taken in by a fantasy. But many more private people must be attempting to understand their own similar experience. The fact that Samuel Prakash deposed him, the head of the entirely fictional 400,000 member Anglican Church of India which constituted the bulk of the "450,000 Anglicans to Become Catholic" back in 2011 is an irony worthy of the pen of Evelyn Waugh. And that ubiquitous headline is the founding nightmare from which the Ordinariates are still trying to wake up, IMHO.

Hyperbolic expectations, a small and uncertain reality. Apparent leadership, including Pope Benedict, Hepworth, (and Frs Phillips and Hurd to a lesser extent), which evaporated almost instantly, leaving a kind of taxi squad to take over and try to figure out what this was all supposed to be about. The UK and North American Ordinariates are pursuing two entirely different visions. Pope Francis clearly could care less about the entire thing.

I'm somewhat more favorable toward His Grace than my correspondent, primarily because I met him personally with lowered expectations. I saw immediately that he had the gift of blarney, which I noted here -- but as an adept persuader, which I think most will agree he is, I think he recognized that there was a range of assertions I'd accept and a range I wouldn't, and he stayed within the good range in our encounters. And vested, celebrating, and preaching, he does remarkably good Anglo-Catholic.

It's also worth pointing out that numbers in the hundred thousands as potential intake from "Anglican Catholics" weren't limited to Hepworth. TEC Bp Clarence Pope, presumably uncontradicted by Jeffrey Steenson, who was present in that 1993 meeting, gave Cardinal Ratzinger an estimate of 250,000 Episcopalians who would come in from the US, which would not be inconsistent with Hepworth's estimates in the range of 500,000 worldwide.

Finally, if we take the Church -- in this case, the "continuing" branch of the church universal -- as something of a family, it's worth applying the notion that you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your relatives. In the case of St Mary of the Angels, Hepworth has, shall we say, had the generosity to admit paternity, when he certainly had the option of not doing so and washing his hands of the business. So far, I've had the impression that it's been a positive development for the parish, whatever its eventual fate turns out to be.

Which is not to overlook the fact that His Grace sometimes overpromises.