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PORTLAND, MAINE: Traditional Anglican Communion seeks unity with Rome

PORTLAND, MAINE: TAC seeking unity with Rome

By ANN S. KIM
Portland Press Herald Writer

PORTLAND (Sept. 24, 2005)--The Traditional Anglican Communion is a small step closer to reestablishing unity with the Roman Catholic Church after a separation of five centuries.

Leaders of the Anglican Church in America, one of the 44 national churches in the conservative body, were in Portland this week considering a plan to begin formal conversations with the Roman Catholic Church about establishing intercommunion.

"It is a quest of being a single Eucharistic community," said Archbishop John Hepworth, the spiritual head of the Traditional Anglican Communion. "It would mean Roman Catholic people could receive communion in our churches and we could receive it in theirs."

Portland was chosen as the site for the meeting of the House of Bishops, which brings together bishops from national churches from North and South America and the Caribbean every three years. That meeting preceded others, including one for leaders of the American church and church leaders from New England and New York.

Portland is also home to St. Paul's, the cathedral for the Anglican Church in America's Northeast region. St. Paul's had been an Episcopal parish but broke away in 1989 over the consecration of a female bishop.

The Traditional Anglican Communion - which has members in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe and New Zealand - is part of the "continuing church" movement that split from the Anglican Communion. The continuing churches felt the Anglican Communion, to which the Episcopal Church USA belongs, was straying from Scripture with practices such as the ordination of women and changes to the Book of Common Prayer.

If the Traditional Anglican Communion achieves intercommunion with Roman Catholics, Hepworth said, he envisioned an arrangement in which the Anglican way of practicing Christianity would be recognized as special and would continue.

The Anglican Church in America this week endorsed a plan to begin formal conversations with the Vatican. With the endorsement of all of the national churches in place, the Traditional Anglican Communion can put together a proposal that would be presented to the papal headquarters in Rome, said Jeff Monroe, a deacon at St. Paul's Cathedral.

"In essence, what happens is the Traditional Anglican Communion is going to Rome and saying, 'We have reviewed our doctrines, your doctrines, and here's how we think this should and could work,' " Monroe said.

Plans from both sides would be exchanged. If the Vatican endorses the plan, it would be brought back to the national churches of the Traditional Anglican Communion, which would be asked for their endorsement as well.

The exact steps are unclear because the process is new, Hepworth said.

"No Anglican church has come into communion with Rome before," Hepworth said. "There's no road map."

ABOUT THE CHURCH

THE TRADITIONAL Anglican Communion bases its theology and practice on Holy Scripture and the general councils of the undivided Christian Church of the first centuries after Christ.

THE EARLY Anglo-Christian Church eventually became part of the Roman Church in the 5th century but separated from Rome during the 16th century Reformation.

TODAY, the church still follows many of the same liturgical practices from before the Reformation, but its beliefs reflect post Reformation theologies. Throughout the World, it is considered an orthodox and evangelical Church.

Copyright 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

END

Anglican Church in America
Diocese of the Northeast United States
Cathedral of St. Paul
279 Congress Street
Portland, Maine 04101
(207)828-2012

Press Release
September 26, 2005
Contact: Office of the Bishop
845-753-6407 and 845-753-8424(fax).

Rt. Rev. George D. Langberg, Bishop

TRADITIONAL ANGLICAN CHURCH BISHOPS ENDORSE EFFORTS TO SEEK INTER-COMMUNION WITH ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, the world's largest body of conservative Anglican churches, received an endorsement from the U.S. and Central American members of that Anglican body to pursue intercommunion with the Roman Catholic Church. Archbishop Hepworth traveled from Australia to attend the triennial meeting of the General Synod of the Anglican Church in America, held September 20-24 in Portland, Maine. At that meeting, the American church voted to endorse his efforts to re-establish communion with the Holy See in Rome.

The Archbishop has led a dialogue between the worldwide Traditional Anglican Communion and the Vatican for the last several years. He has also made an effort to establish communion with European Lutherans seeking similar common ground with Rome. "We have no doctrinal differences with Rome which would prevent us from being in full communion with one another," he said in a recent interview. "The climate is brewing for the Traditional Anglican Communion to be the 27th ecclesial group accepted into communion with Rome, and the first church touched by the Reformation to do so. My broad vision is to see the end of the Reformation of the 16th century." Archbishop Hepworth said if Christians truly believe in the notion of an undivided Church, they ought to discover what it takes to find unity with both East and West and "be liberated from everything that stops it."

Immediately following the national event, George Langberg, Bishop of the Diocese of the Northeast, which covers New York and New England, addressed that body's annual Synod, saying that the Traditional Anglican Communion had "embarked on a journey toward unity in direct response to Jesus' prayer that his followers all be one." After quoting that prayer from the 17th chapter of the Gospel of John, Bishop Langberg said, "We are accustomed to say, 'Lord, hear our prayer.' Tonight Jesus says to us, 'My people, hear my prayer.'

Due to the timing of its National Synod, the American church was the last of the jurisdictions to endorse the efforts of the Primate, but it did so in resounding fashion with a unanimous vote of support. The Traditional Anglican Communion will now prepare a formal unity plan to present to the Vatican next year, outlining how intercommunion could be accomplished, recognizing that the two churches have similar theological beliefs. The Traditional Anglican Communion has members in 44 countries around the world.

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