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Anglican traditionalist leader reveals: abuse drove him from Catholic priesthood

September 09, 2011

The prominent leader of the Anglicans seeking to enter the Catholic Church has revealed that he was driven out of the Catholic Church by sexual abuse he endured as a seminarian.

Anglican Archbishop John Hepworth, the head of the Traditional Anglican Communion, said that he was repeatedly molested by two priests and a fellow seminary student in the 1960s. He was warned that if he reported the abuse he would be dismissed from the seminary, he said. Eventually he left the Catholic Church, troubled by the psychological aftermath of the abuse.

“I fled in fear but I never wanted to leave,” the Anglican archbishop said of his departure. He became the leading figure among the Anglican bishops petitioning the Vatican for entry into the Catholic Church.

The Anglican leader disclosed that he has received an apology and an offer of compensation from the Melbourne archdiocese. Two of the three priests he accused of molesting him are now deceased. The third remains in active ministry in the Archdiocese of Adelaide.

[Note: Because of an editorial error, an early version of this story indicated that Archbishop Hepworth had received an apology and offer of compensation from the Adelaide archdiocese. That is incorrect. The Melbourne archdiocese offered compensation, while Adelaide has been slow to respond.]


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  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Sep. 09, 2011 6:43 PM ET USA

    Perhaps we should hear from this fellow who is still in active ministry. It's wouldn't be a hard case to investigate.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 09, 2011 5:18 PM ET USA

    A completely unanticipated benefit of the outreach to Anglicans!