Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Southern Cone Spreads North

From the Telegraph:

The worldwide Anglican Church suffered a dramatic new split last night when a leading conservative archbishop approved plans to adopt breakaway American dioceses, the Daily Telegraph has learned.

Archbishop Gregory Venables is to allow conservative dioceses that are defecting from the pro-gay American branch of Anglicanism to affiliate with his South American province thousands of miles away...
I hope this is not a surprise to anyone. We were told about this last year by Bp. Schofield of San Joaquin in a letter he wrote to the diocese:

...Is Our Place In The Anglican Communion Assured? Yes. First, we have a commitment from the Southern Cone (Archbishop Greg Venebles) that the bishops of his dioceses are open to our joining their Province...
Gregory James Venables is the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone and also bishop of the diocese of Argentina. One of his most recent notorious actions was reinstating the deposed bishop of Recife. This deposed bishop is the same one who scooped up two parishes of TEC the day after the Windsor Report was released. The Bishop of Bolivia, who has plundered a few congregations that belong to TEC, is one of his lieutenants.

The Southern Cone allows women to be ordained to the Diaconate only. I understand that the Province is considered to lean towards the more Evangelical side of things, but the Bishop of Bolivia is a Son of the House (Nashotah grad), so obviously Anglo-Catholics are welcome. Seems like as good a fit as Fort Worth, San Joaquin and Pittsburgh are going to find.

It appears PB Venables has no problem with plundering parishes from TEC. Here's part of a statement the Southern Cone made last year:

...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.

There is another factor that needs to be considered here. PB Venables oversees the dioceses of Argentina, Northern Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. From what I could find, Argentina, Paraguay and Uraguay have about 12 churches each. Bolivia has 4. Until 1981, these were all missionary dioceses. I recognize that the number of actual structures does not necessarily represent the number of Anglicans within this part of the world. It is not unusual for there to be a congregation without a church, who gather when the priest arrives in the village. The Southern Cone has about 20,000 communicants. My point is that the lack of churches suggests that this is a very poor Province. I cannot help but wonder if the temptation to pick up a few wealthy congregations, and now entire Dioceses, to the north is not fueling some of the outrage we are hearing from PB Venables. If the bishop of Bolivia and former bishop of Recife are examples of the makeup of his House of Bishops, one is inclined to begin wondering what kind of crew he is assembling and for what purpose.

If the breakaway groups within TEC are looking for a "Windsor compliant" leader, I suggest they keep on looking. PB Venables not only seems to ignore the recommendations regarding border crossings in that document, but seems to sanction such raids, and even encourages them.

J.

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