Saturday, 5 November 2011

Anglican Ordinariate developments....***

Things appear to be moving forward at last on the Australian Anglican Ordinariate front, with Adelaide Now reporting that some 31 Traditional Anglican Communion priests were "recently approved for ordination back into the Catholic Church after high-level meetings at the Vatican".

I'm taking that to mean that their reception as Catholics and ordination as Catholic priests has been given approval - and perhaps even a definite timeline - following discussions at the recent Ad Limina visit to Rome.

Let's hope for an announcement on this shortly...

The Hepworth Case***see update at end

The actual media report is largely about some rather puzzling developments in the case of the Traditional Anglican Communion Primate (and former Catholic priest), Archbishop Hepworth.

A few days ago came the news that Archbishop Hepworth had entered a process of mediation with the Adelaide Archdiocese, mediated by Fr John Fleming (NB, to access the story, search for 'Talks pave way back for rape priest 'in the Australian via Google - you can bypass the Oz's paywall for up to five stories that way).

That struck me as a rather curious choice given that Fr Fleming is himself in the position of Msgr Dempsey, the subject of public allegations of abuse (and he arguably suffered serious consequences as a result, losing his job as President of Campion College, notwithstanding his intact reputation as a defender of orthodoxy.  Though he has since been returned to ministry).  But there are some key differences in the two cases as well, not least being that in Fr Fleming's case, the accusations were not made under parliamentary privilege and the resulting defamation case he launched in response is still ongoing as far as I can gather.

In any case, Adelaide Now reports that AB Hepworth has offered to drop the case against Msgr Dempsey. 

What he wants in return, according to the Advertiser report is for the diocese to accept the Melbourne Report that he was abused in the seminary, and that this is what caused him to leave the church; help to resolve his situation with the Vatican; and an acknowledgement that his accusations against Msgr Dempsey were made "in good faith".

But given that the accusations are now in the public domain, they surely need to be adjudicated on and decided one way or another in fairness to Msgr Dempsey?

The story also suggests that he has no faith in the diocesan process that has been set up to look into the case because he has not been told the terms of reference or ground rules.  If this is the case, it is yet another sad indictment on what has been a pretty sorry process.

One way or another, it is all very strange...

***Monday's Australian carries a report with Archbishop Hepworth denying that he had offered to drop the case.  It says that as far as he is concerned the situation is still a stalemate, as, although the Archdiocese has hired a QC to run a process (and claims that it has started), Archbishop Hepworth is refusing to participate on the basis that he objects to the person selected and he has been given insufficient information on the process.  He is quoted as saying that there is no good faith involved. The report also states that AB Hepworth proposed a mediation process, but it appears not to have been accepted by Archbishop Wilson.  For the full story, google (to avoid the Oz's paywall) "Archbishop Hepworth denies move to drop abuse claim".


A Canberra Observer said...

Terra, I am not sure if you intended this but your references to Fr Fleming leave the impression of him being tainted. That is unfortunate as I believe that not only have none of the investigations (police, Anglican, Catholic) found anything against him but they is indeed innocent of the charges made against him and has suffered a terrible injustice. (recalling that in the police case, no charges were laid, only public allegations - the police have made no further comments leaving one arrive at the conclusion that there was no case to answer).

Kate said...

Certainly not suggesting that CO!

Like many others I tend to start from a rebuttable presumption that orthodox and activist priests are more likely to be innocent of such charges, while, by contrast, the heterodox...

In fact my comments were entirely directed to context related to his role as mediator in this affair having been on the receiving end of public accusations himself - though he may also be particularly well qualified to assist on Adelaide archdiocese's interesting administrative practices, having been on the receiving end of them.

So far as the actual accusations go, as far as I can gather the Anglican investigations have not actually been completed due to the court case, but certainly no police action has been launched.

I can similarly find no actual public statement on the outcome of the catholic investigation of his case (just various 'no comments' from Archbishop Wilson presumably due to the court action), but he has been returned to ministry which (hopefully) speaks for itself.

I've modified the text slightly to try and make this clearer.

Anonymous said...

The post and these comments show the church has much to learn about proper process to address abuse accusations! The investigation process must be fair and just, but it must also show the public what stage it is at, what the outcome is, and how the decision was reached. Murky secrecy is worse than doing nothing!

Oh, and Kate, you should be assuming anyone accused is innocent until proven guilty, right? (whether orthodox, heterodox, or raving atheists) Seeing as it is nearly impossible in most situations to 'prove yourself innocent'.

Interesting post but.

Kate said...

Anon - 1. Please give yourself a name of some kind. I willl not accept undentified posts in future.

2. I certainly agree on the process issues. A clear statement that the case was looked at and the claims were not credible, or whatever statement of the situation actually applies would be entirely appropriate it seems to me (as occurred for example in the case of Cardinal Pell). That this hasn't happened is on the face of it another example of the Adelaide problem.

3. On innocent until proved guilty - why? That is how a jury is required to approach a case in our particular court system (but not how the legal system of many other countries works), it is not a general moral principle!

We shouldn’t judge unnecessarily, and in our courts we insist on innocent until proven guilty in order to ensure that there is actually evidence to support a person’s conviction.

But in everyday life, we have to make prudent judgments based on probabilities.

And we know full well that high profile orthodox priests tend to attract false complaints.

On the face of it, someone who claims, for example, that paedophilia is a perfectly acceptable form of relationship is more likely to be a paedophile than someone who denounces it as a sin.

Similarly, someone who has previously been convicted as a paedophile is not someone we would let work with children.

Yet in a court of law, a jury would not be made aware of his previous record until they had made their decision on the evidence in front of them. And similar presumptions can reasonably be applied, in my view, to other moral teachings of the Church such as homosexuality, etc.

So personally I wouldn't be rushing to defend anyone accused of sexual abuse who has set out clearly heterodox views on the subject, despite the 'presumption of innocence'. We can't be sure they've acted on their words, but...

And of course the reverse applies too.