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SOUTHERN CONE: Bishops renew position of 'impaired communion,' support developing new ecclesial structure in U.S.

By Matthew Davies
11/15/2006
[Episcopal News Service]  The Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, during its November 6-11 Provincial Meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, unanimously renewed the position that it remains in impaired communion with the Episcopal Church and supported "our Primate and other Primates who are overseeing the development of a new ecclesial structure in the United States."

Southern Cone Primate Gregory Venables has been a leading opponent to actions taken by provinces that endorse the full inclusion of gay and lesbian members in all levels of the church.

Signed by Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia, a statement released at the end of the Buenos Aires meeting said that the Episcopal Church, at its 75th General Convention, "did not responsibly address the minimal recommendations of the Windsor Report" and that various dioceses and the new Presiding Bishop "hold a position concerning human sexuality that stands in open contradiction to Lambeth 1998 resolution I.10 and the historic teaching of the Church." As a result, "we renew our conviction that the Province of the Southern Cone of the Americas remains in impaired communion with the Episcopal Church "

It is currently unclear how many Anglican provinces are now in impaired communion with the Episcopal Church. Normally such a position would require endorsement by standing committees or provincial synods, depending on the legislative processes of individual provinces. In some instances, only primates have issued statements that include such language.

The statement continued: "Given that their continuing position results in an extremely difficult situation for churches and Christians that do hold Anglican doctrine, and in the spirit of Kigali, we support our Primate and other Primates who are overseeing the development of a new ecclesial structure in the United States."

The reference to Kigali comes from a meeting of global south Anglican leaders in Kigali, Rwanda, September 19-22. They issued a statement that indicated 20 provinces had endorsed its contents. Some Anglican Primates later disavowed the communiqué, saying they had not seen its contents or were not present at the meeting.

The Southern Cone statement also raised concerns about what it called "the inadequate pastoral response on the part of the Province of Brazil toward the clergy deposed in Recife."

The Diocese of Recife in Brazil on October 11 installed its fourth bishop, the Rt. Rev. Sebastiao Armando Gameleira Soares, a theologian and professor of Biblical studies who has been bishop of the Diocese of Pelotas in southern Brazil since February 2000. He was elected to replace Robinson Cavalcanti, who was deposed on June 10, 2005.

After the election and consecration of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire, Cavalcanti asked the House of Bishops in Brazil to express its opposition to the Episcopal Church's actions. When the House of Bishops refused, Cavalcanti began to pull away from the IEAB, unilaterally canceling a companion diocese relationship with the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania and participating in irregular confirmations in Ohio in March 2004 without the diocesan bishop's permission.

Formed in 1981, the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone comprises seven dioceses in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

The full text of the Provincial Meeting Press Release follows:

The House of Bishops in the Southern Cone of the Americas together with the Provincial Executive Council met in retreat and session November 6-11 in Buenos Aires at Casa Nazaret in the second of its meetings planned for 2006. They affirmed their unity in the Word of God and in the faith of the Anglican formularies and their commitment to collaborate together with like minded colleagues throughout the Anglican Communion. Representation from the House of Bishops was complete with members present from Uruguay, Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and Northern Argentina, and Bolivia.

Discussions ranged from the Provincial response to the challenges raised by urban and rural poverty to matters of division in the Anglican Communion. The inadequate pastoral response on the part of the Province of Brazil toward the clergy deposed in Recife continued to raise concern for various members. There was a unanimous desire to support the Primates of the Communion in their efforts to address the variety of issues raised by the US Church as it continues its wholehearted turn away from and disregard for the community of Anglican churches. The Province affirmed without dissension the following resolution with respect to that situation:

Given that the Episcopal Church in the United States, in its most recent General Convention, did not responsibly address the minimal recommendations of the Windsor Report, and that various dioceses and their new Presiding Bishop hold a position concerning human sexuality that stands in open contradiction to Lambeth 1998 resolution I.10 and the historic teaching of the Church: we renew our conviction that the Province of the Southern Cone of the Americas remains in impaired communion with the Episcopal Church; and given that their continuing position results in an extremely difficult situation for churches and Christians that do hold Anglican doctrine, and in the spirit of Kigali, we support our Primate and other Primates who are overseeing the development of a new ecclesial structure in the United States.