To-day, in the WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN, Journalist Christopher Pearson re-visits the matter of TAC Head John Hepworth. Christopher Pearson is a distinguished journalist, with an excellent record in reporting on Church matters. He makes clear again in to-day's article , as he has done in more detail in an earlier article,that he is a friend of John Hepworth and  that they have been friends for some years. On an earlier occasion with no connection to this matter , Christopher Pearson , who is a convert to Catholicism, has in passing mentioned that he is a homosexual.What that may mean, is not always clear these days. Some people who are burdened with Same Sex Attraction choose to call themselves "homosexual" ,whilst I would guess most folk would take the ownership of the word to mean someone actively homosexual. Be that as it may, the matter of his conversion and his sexuality are only remote background in this matter, with no known relevance.

In general to-day's Pearson article is a return to the battlements with a few shots, but I doubt they are particularly telling. They do however tell us more about John Hepworth and his view of the situation. Concisely put the new information is this:

John Hepworth's Episcopal Ordination in 1996 was effected by a prelate of a little known American organisation dating from 1904 which presently has approx 24,000 Members. It calls itself THE POLISH NATIONAL CATHOLIC CHURCH. It grew out of concern by a small number of Polish Immigrants and a few of their Pastors at the beginning of the 20th Century, that the Church in America was not properly looking after Polish Catholics. The number involved was quite small, and did not affect the vast majority of Polish American Catholics. But one of the Pastors involved, took himself off to Holland where he had himself Episcopally Ordained by a Bishop of the Old Catholic Church.This is another breakaway group which did have a validly ordained Bishop at its Head.This organisation dates back to the First Vatican Council aftermath, and has handled quite some traffic conferring Episcopal Ordination on some Anglican Bishops who knew Anglican Orders were invalid.( It has been said by someone well placed to know, that 5 of the last 7 Anglican Archbishops of Brisbane took the step). So this Priest , Father Hodur became a validly but illicitly ordained Bishop.In addition he was automatically excommunicated by that action, even if his previous actions had not already had that effect.

So, John Hepworth comforts himself with the thought of valid Catholic Episcopal ordination, which also in itself - being illicit - attracted automatic excommunication for him. Though his prior apostasy by becoming an Anglican, may have had that effect already, without going into his twice undergoing the form of Marriage and the so far unexamined or revealed question of the dissolution or validity of the first marriage( he is variously reported as having been divorced and of having had the first marriage Annulled by Anglican process.

Moving on from those Canonical issues, Christopher Pearson adduces on John Hepworth's behalf ,an alleged early assurance by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that Hepworth could be considered as a special case in regard to the Complementary Norms issued with Anglicanorum Coetibus. This claim is made despite Hepworth's widely and oft repeated undertaking to the Roman authorities and the TAC faithful that he would step aside if his situation proved to be a stumbling block for TAC reunion with the Catholic Church.Clearly, he realised the problem of his situation and the possibility of it being insuperable.In the end of course, and after the public canvassing of his allegations, and the manner in which this had been done, no "special case"treatment was deemed possible. It will be recalled that in previous posts we have examined the likelihood, or otherwise, of such an outcome.But now, he apparently seeks to avoid his earlier undertaking, and to do so by  "negotiation" in the mass media. Common sense ought to tell him this is not on. 

Christopher Pearson's article touches briefly on a variety of issues and then attempts to dismiss Mr. Michael Abbott Q.C.'s Inquiry, unfavourably comparing Abbott's qualifications with those of Mr.Peter O'Callaghan  Q.C.of the Archdiocese of Melbourne's Inquiry into its relevant involvement via one of the alleged Priest perpetrators now deceased.

He then, rather surprisingly , seeks to say that the Adelaide Inquiry should not have taken place because, the difference between the  claims of John Hepworth and the denial of Monsignor Dempsey, had long been clear.But this is an untenable position - surely it is that very difference that calls for, that demands an Inquiry. After all ,if both parties agreed that the allegations were true, or false, there would be no issue.

 The truth of the allegations had to be examined. 

Christopher Pearson goes on to try to justify John Hepworth's refusal to co-operate with the Abbott Inquiry at all, by saying that Adelaide Archdiocese had refused any financial assistance to Hepworth or witnesses he might have called,but chose not to, or to indemnify him or them against any defamation proceedings they might have opened themselves to.

 This is an extraordinary suggestion for a complainant to make. Why should any organisation financially assist someone to attack its members AND indemnify the attacker from defamation proceedings resulting? This seems delusional and beyond any requirements of justice or equity. It would set up a lunatic precedent, resulting in a storm of irresponsible, malicious claims.

Christopher Pearson's article concludes with an effort to conjure up the spectre of 5 years ( why five?) of preoccupation in the Holy See with Dempsey's role and Archbishop Wilson's handling of the matter.This seems to be no more than flummery, and presupposes that the Police will pursue these  allegations of ancient misdeeds which seem to amount to no more than "he says" but "he denies", and to be beyond proof. It must be recalled that John Hepworth has for many years resisted the appeals of Church authorities to take the allegations to the Police and has only done so at this very late stage.It is at least possible that the Police will decide that there is not sufficent substance to proceed and refuse to take the matter forward. 

In an earlier article in which he is interviewed by reporter Tess Livingstone, there is reference to some forced events he was subjected to , but also according to him, extended periods of indecent activity in which he seems to suggest he was to some degree acquiescent , or at least not resistant,until he he "learned" how to  reject advances. I had not raised this aspect of the matter in the earlier posts, because it seemed to be to John Hepworth's  disadvantage to highlight it. However , in the light of subsequent public performance, it seems necessary to form a complete picture of the situation.

Christopher Pearson's article has been very professionally crafted with many doors left ajar here and there throughout, so that it would take a magazine to follow those things half suggested  , but clever as it might be to write in such a vein, I doubt it has done his friend John Hepworth any good. 

As for John Hepworth, it seems to this outsider at least, that he has not been well advised in turning his situation into a media circus, especially the theatrical arrival at the Police Station to lay his complaint. As I have said in  previous posts his personal record is such that he could hardly have done more to offend the Catholic Church, even if that had been his intention: apostate Priest, marriage , divorce/annulment, re-marriage,illicit episcopal ordination, compounded now by allegations of homosexual rape and activity which he had long avoided bringing under Police scrutiny, and had spoken of in some aspects, in equivocal terms.

In all the circumstances, he ought to have been a great deal more discreet t if he hoped to ameliorate his position. But he has chosen, or has been advised to proceed very differently. He can hardly complain about the results.

In all the above, I am not seeking to make any judgement  at all about the allegations. Indeed in some aspects, as I have suggested, it is difficult to clearly appreciate exactly what John Hepworth is claiming, apart from the major allegations. It is all sad and sordid and , whatever the truth may be,
one can only feel very sorry for John Hepworth and pray for him,for he seems to be a very vulnerable  person. We pray , hoping that he can finally reconcile himself to his situation and to the Church with honour.


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