We have reported here a number of times on the October request of the Traditional Anglican Communion’s request for full, corporate, and sacramental union. Bishop John Hepworth, primate of the TAC, has written a letter to the members of the communion for Lent that gives me great hope for the success of this endeavor. This letter does not break any news on the response from the Holy See, but says much about the disposition of the leadership of the TAC. It says most in what they choose not to say. Here is the main part of what Bishop Hepworth has to say:
Last October, our bishops and vicars-general signed a letter to the Holy See. This letter was the culmination of seventeen years of patient work, that began with a conversation in the Vatican between Archbishop Pierre Duprey and a small group of Traditional Anglican Communion clergy led by our first Primate, Archbishop Louis Falk. We were asked then “to show that we could grow, to develop strong relationships with local catholic churches, and above all not to needlessly expand the episcopate”. The current letter is in part a report on our acceptance of these requests. It seeks the guidance of the Holy See as to how we can fulfil our desire for healing the brokenness in that part of the Church for which we hold responsibility. It gives assurances about the faith that we as a College of Bishops “desire to hold and teach”.
In all this time, we have learned ever more deeply the fullness of faith in Jesus Christ. We have been inspired and shamed, as communities have joined us from places where Christians are only a fragment of the population, and from other places where persecution and starvation are the daily experience of our people.
This Lent, we are waiting in a prayer-filled quietness for the answer to our quest for unity. The quietness was requested of us. Lent is the right time to be waiting. Unity was the demand of Jesus just before his crucifixion. Unity filled his thoughts at his last moments with his apostles. Unity was the subject of his final prayer to his Father in their presence. It took ruthless campaigns to fracture the Church. It will take toughness and humility, and an openness to a Spirit (who makes soft what has become unbendable) to become again “one, as the Father and I are one”.
Humility, patience, and a prayer filled quietness. Waiting for months, it would be very common and easy for the TAC to do some public cage rattling to try to get a response. However, the TAC is very wise not to go down this road. Toughness and humility is required to healed these wound and toughness and humility is Pope Benedict’s calling card. I pray that this ends in success. Reading this letter, I am more hopeful than ever.