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PHILADELPHIA: Fr. Moyer Denied Pathway to Papal-driven Ordinariate

PHILADELPHIA: Fr. Moyer Denied Pathway to Papal-driven Ordinariate
TAC Primate John Hepworth faces ouster by his fellow bishops

By David W. Virtue
January 29, 2012

The former Anglo-Catholic priest of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont, Fr. David L. Moyer has been denied his final step into the Roman Catholic Church following 10 years of ecclesiastical wandering that started with The Episcopal Church, migrated through the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Forward in Faith, the Church of the Province of Central Africa, and the Anglican Church in America, a branch of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

Moyer said he received a letter from Fr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, informing him that Archbishop Charles Chaput (Philadelphia) has declined to give him his votum (a promise) to proceed toward ordination in the Roman Catholic Church. No specific reasons were stated.

Moyer received a nulla osta (no impediment) from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in early November 2011, but a votum must be given by the local Catholic bishop for someone who resides in his diocese.

Moyer now leads a group of about 50 former parishioners from the Church of the Good Shepherd under the banner of Blessed John Henry Newman.


Moyer's fortunes have been tied to those of TAC Australian Archbishop John Hepworth as Moyer was consecrated a bishop in the TAC in 2006 by Hepworth, a move that many Episcopalians and Anglicans seriously questioned and actively discouraged.

Hepworth, a former Roman Catholic priest with a mixed past, expressed his intention of taking the TAC into Rome as an Anglican prelature. His hope was that he would be reinstated into the priesthood in the Ordinariate, bringing an alleged, but never confirmed, 700,000 Anglo-Catholics with him.

Hepworth hoped that revelations that he had been sexually abused by three priests would be mitigating circumstances to allow him to return to Rome as a priest. That did not happen. He revealed that he had been seduced by a sitting Roman Catholic monsignor who denied the charges. The Catholic Church in Adelaide says an investigation found no substance to allegations made by Hepworth against Fr. Ian Dempsey.

Soon after these allegations, and the stories that followed going viral, the Roman Catholic Church told Hepworth he could return to the Roman Catholic fold, but only as a layman. He was denied his yearned for return to the Roman Catholic fold as a bishop or priest. Hepworth also ruffled too many Roman Catholic feathers when he publicly blasted what he saw as efforts by Roman Catholic authorities to take over parts of his Canadian flock.

Hepworth has rejected Rome's offer and mounted a campaign to pull together whatever fragments he can find of the TAC around the world to reignite his failed leadership.

Next month, the members of the TAC College of Bishops and Vicars General of the TAC will meet in Johannesburg, South Africa, where the expectation is that Hepworth will be formally voted out from leadership of the TAC. It is expected, though not confirmed, that Indian Archbishop Prakash will be elected to replace Hepworth. The senior bishop in the TAC will likely assume a more limited Primacy that is a more collegial primacy, a source told VOL. The TAC Concordat of 1990 will likely be revised.

Contacted by VOL and asked for a comment on his rejection to the Ordinariate, Moyer replied "no."


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