HEPWORTH - NOT SO ORDINARY


“QUI BONO?”
When Cicero quoted this maxim of Cassius, he was seeking to resolve the question of guilt in a criminal case – whose was the good / advantage from the crime.
JOHN HEPWORTH Head of the Traditional Anglican Communion
In the recent media storm surrounding the allegations, made by Traditional Anglican Church Head John Hepworth, of homosexual rape decades ago, we might ask the question in regard to the allegations , almost despairingly. Who benefits? Almost no-one it seems as the affair stumbles through the media circus.
No doubt in publishing the allegation in the beginning, former Catholic Priest John Hepworth hoped to ameliorate his position in the lead-up to the establishment of the Australian Ordinariate, which had been expected in February, 2012. However, he had evidently not contemplated the entry onto centre stage of the media savvy attention grabbing Senator (Its all about ME) Nick Xenophon of South Australia.
Senator Xenophon  media darling.
As Hepworth had left the matter, the culprits were two Priests now dead and a seminarian now a Priest, still alive and responsible for an Adelaide Parish. Senator Xenophon, in a characteristic and brilliant piece of theatre announced to the tickle-my-tummy media who just love his antics, that if the Catholic Church (actually the Archbishop of Adelaide) did not name and suspend the Priest by Noon the following day, he would name him in the Senate.
Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide - President of the Australian Catholic Bishops'Conference
The deadline passed and the Xenophonic revelation was made, despite appeals from various Church levels. Suddenly, Hepworth’s alleged injury took third place to Xenophon’s coup and the assumed scandal of the surviving culprit. He turns out to have been a former Vicar General of the Archdiocese and a former principal Naval Chaplain and holder of the Order of Australia for his services to Naval Chaplaincy. Now there is much huffing and puffing in the holier than thou media, but no additional facts as yet.
The ex-Priest Hepworth has done a great deal of good in working to lead the 400,000 strong worldwide Traditional Anglican Communion home to Rome. That being said, when it comes to being dealt with within the discipline of the Catholic Church, he has a lot of stripes against him – he left the Priesthood to become an Anglican, at some stage he married, divorced and re-married, ex-communicated himself by seeking “Episcopal  Ordination” in the Anglican Church (excommunication Latae Sententiae) . One might say a person could not do much more to destroy his credibility in the eyes of the Church. And yet, if he is to be believed, and his published account is accurate, a large measure of personal instability in the wake of the shocking events he recounts is not surprising.
Assuming it is all true, unraveling the mess will be difficult. The “culprit” would have to be considered by police – but it would seem to be simply “he says” and “he says the opposite”. Unless there are surviving third party witnesses with contemporary accounts of the words of either party, it seems like a non event from a Police point of view. The precise detail of the supposed “culprit’s” denial could be such as to leave undisclosed a belief on his part that any activity was consensual , enabling him to deny “rape”.
As for Hepworth himself one would imagine that his most desired likely outcome would be to be allowed as a Priest, to be the Ordinary of the Ordinariate after his excommunication had been lifted. However there remains the question of his first marriage. If the lady is deceased, that issue is removed. If not, what is to become of his post divorce (or, some reports suggest, an Anglican Annulment) “marriage”?
But even if that were not an issue, the Complementary Norms issued at the same time as Anglicanorum Coetibus at Article 6(2) forbid Catholic Clergy who have become Anglicans from ministering in the Ordinariate and persons in irregular marital situations likewise. Now, it would seem possible that the Holy Father might waive the former prohibition – though it would not create a good precedent. But the latter would not be waived. Indeed, when the Norms were issued, these provisions  seemed aimed directly at Hepworth.
Back to our beginning – “Qui Bono?” No-one it seems, except the enemies of the Church. And the revelations seem to muddy the path toward the Australian Ordinariate. We should all pray for a swift and successful resolution of the issues for the good of souls – especially those of prospective Ordinariate members and the principal “dramatis personae”.




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