7/05/2008

New Bishop in Paraguay: Southern Cone continues with SAMS leadership.


I lift a glass of Cono Sur wine (actually pretty ordinary but OK stuff) and toast the Rev. Patrick Butler who as I understand it has been elected / chosen the Bishop of Paraguay. I don't see notice of this election elsewhere, but have received notice of this from a friend. Assuming it is true, God's grace be upon him.

Patrick and his wife Rosie are described by his supporting missionary organization, the South American Missionary Society (UK), as follows: "Patrick & Rosie dedicated 12 years to the young of Paraguay, particularly in the capital, Asunción. They helped bring to that country the brilliant phenomenon called EJE (Youth Encounter in the Spirit) – evangelistic and leadership-building weekends which have impacted and changed many young people. Now EJE is under Paraguayan leadership and in 2007 Patrick was ordained to lead the English-speaking church of St Andrew’s while maintaining involvement with the evening Spanish-speaking young people’s congregation of San Andrés. Rosie teaches part-time at St Andrew’s School and looks after Luke, Jessica and Johnny." They seem like fine people.

Of interest in Anglican land is to note that the Province of the Southern Cone consists of seven recognized dioceses: Argentina, Northern Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, and Uruguay and one unrecognized diocese (at least by Canterbury), namely Recife II headed by the deposed bishop of Recife in Brazil. Of the seven "regular" dioceses, the bishops of Paraguay, and Argentina are SAMS missionaries and four of the seven bishops are English or American.

It is important to acknowledge the witness of the Anglican churches in the Province of the Southern Cone. If you look at the diocesan websites and the SAMS UK website there is no doubt that a variety of good works are being done. However, it is also important to note that with the election of the Rev. Patrick Butler to the episcopate in the Province it would appear that four of the seven bishops of the province are not from the Province (that is not Latin Americans) and two continue as missionaries of a mission society.

With the inclusion, howbeit on a limited basis, of four bishops outside the Provincial boundaries of the Southern Cone (two from the US (Schofield and Cox), one from Brazil (Cavalcanti) and one from Canada (Harvey)) and the possible increase in bishops from the US to three, the emerging House of Bishops in the Province of the Southern Cone begins to look less and less like the Southern Cone and more and more like the occupation of ecclesial parking spaces for displaced or deposed bishops.

Into this nightmare comes the good Rev. Butler. Whatever his merits as bishop candidate, and we can only hope there are many, he will have to deal with the fact that he will be part of a collegial body that for a time will have a majority who do not come from the region, do not speak Spanish as their first language.

Explain again just how the Province of the Southern Cone matters much. I have no doubt that the workings of many of the dioceses, and certainly many of the clergy, missionaries and people are as vital as always. But the Province, as Province, is a mess and likely to be a greater mess as time goes on.

Bishop Venables was remarkably silent for most of GAFCON. The media became interested in the Bishop of Sydney who at least stepped up to the plate on occasion. Perhaps Bishop Venables is important these days for easy parking places. What role he will play in the future of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FOCA) is yet to be seen.

11 comments:

  1. Whilst the Southern Cone has a record of disregarding such things, I thought it was a matter of Western Canon Law that a person must be six years in priests orders before being advamnced to the episcopate. OCICBW.

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  2. Mark - I am not sure why you think this situation is so bad that it warrants the decription of being a "nightmare". As long as these bishops are faithful men, holding fast to the traditional tenets of the Christian faith, then what does it matter? It is not as if they have been suddenly parachuted in from outside, but have spent over a decade of faithful service within the province. So you would imagine they are thoroughly acquainted with the customs and culture of the people, and have a proven track record of fruitful ministry. So I wonder to whom is this a "nightmare"? To ECUSA perhaps, but not likely to the local people.

    Bp Victoria Matthews has just been elected to be a bishop in the New Zealand church, and ABp Roger Herft in the Perth Diocese is of Sri Lankan birth - yet these appointments have not attracted your comment as being nightmarish.

    I would have thought that the situation in other dioceses within ECUSA would be more likely to warrant your description of being a nightmare - with falling attendances, departing congregations,increasing expenditure on litigation, more diocesan budgets falling into deficit, persecution of orthodox clergy, Bennison found to be guilty as charged, and disputes over the validity of Schofield and Cox's depositions. Perhaps you ought to be more concered about the situation within your own province first before looking over your neighbour's fence.

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  3. The Southern Cone seems more a chaplaincy than an actual province, and from what I hear they are more Calvinist than Anglican.

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  4. David Wilson6/7/08 5:27 PM

    Mark

    You said, "he is part of a collegial body a majority of which do not come from the region, do not speak Spanish as their first language, and do not have long term interests in the Southern Cone". Could you provide some substantiation for the your statement that the majority of the bishops in Southern Cone do not have long term interests in the Southern Cone.

    I disagree, For example my diocese, Pittsburgh, was a companion diocese to Chile for 20 years, three of the indigenous clergy of Chile were given scholarships by our diocese to train at Trinity Ambridge including the current Bishop of Chile, Rt. Rev. Hector "Tito" Zavala. Our Assistant Bishop Henry Scriven served as a SAMS-UK missionary in the Diocese of Northern Argentina until suddenly forced to leave by the Argentines because of the Falklands War. My parish has supported two SAMS-USA missionary families in Chile, the Websters and the Smiths and I have supported SAMS- USA missionary Bp Frank Lyons of Bolivia. As you can see we have had long term interests in the region way before the word re-alignment meant something more than getting your automobile's steering adjusted.

    BTW in naming the Southern Cone Bishops you forgot the recently deposed Bishop William Cox.

    YBIC

    David Wilson

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  5. Mark,

    This is --well, I am not sure of the word. Your description of this Provice-as-parkinglot is so very apt. Perhaps +V collects Bishops they way some persons collect cars...

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  6. brian... the nightmare is to become a bishop of a Province where most of the bishops are no longer engaged in the mission of the jurisdiction (the Southern part of South America) but are there for a while, until a new North America province is put together. I am not talking about the bishops and people of the dioceses already part of the Southern Cone, but about the bishops dropping in having had no engagement at all in the Province, save occasionally by way of a companion diocese relationship.

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  7. David...I misspoke...my concern was for the wider group of bishops who do not have the long term interest of the Southern Cone at the front of their thoughts. They are not a majority... three now and possibly two or three more.. all together as many as six. There are more that are "regular" members. I will change the text.

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  8. Do I understand you to say that although Patrick Butler and his wife have been missionaries in Paraguay for 12 years he was ordained a priest in 2007 - last year - and has now been advanced to bishop? I read recently, though no supporting evidence was cited, that an indigenous Paraguayan candidate was told to "forget it". Would seem that ministering to the English-speaking church is the ticket.

    I have commented before on the apparent stagnation of a church - the province of the Southern Cone - that is situated in a World hot-spot of Christian evangelism.

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  9. The bishop of Bolivia is a SAMS missionary, too.

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  10. Mark,
    Your enumeration of North American bishops in the Southern Cone left out Malcolm Harding in Canada.

    And there is at least one more retired Canadian bishop with one foot in the Southern Cone who will probably be parachuting in sooner or later to help tip the balance.

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  11. I came across this quote this morning and immediately remembered this conversation at Fr. Mark's Place;

    Humberto Maiztegui, a Uruguayan priest exiled in Brazil:

    "The problem is that the hierarchy of the Anglican Church in the Southern Cone has had a theological formation without an understanding of and sharing in the sensibilities about the culture, the reality and the priorities of the Latin American people."

    "Latin America has its own theological identity built by the Theology of Liberation, both as religious inculturation and political engagement. The Anglicans in Latin America participated remarkably well in this regional theological process of liberation...But the Anglicans of (the Southern Cone) did not participate in this ecumenical theological activity and, indeed, often opposed it.

    "In Latin America the Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias (CLAI) (Latin American Council of Churches) cannot group together all the Latin American Anglicans...Why not? Because the Province of the Southern Cone does not like the social and political engagement of this ecumenical organisation. The issue is not a problem of sexuality or worship, but a broader question of hermeneutics and a fundamental disagreement about the role of Scripture and the Church of Christ in Latin America in transforming society and politics.

    "There seems to be a direct relationship within Latin American Anglicanism between whether theology, leadership formation and the episcopate are foreign or national and whether the Church is more exclusive or inclusive in its ecclesiastical perspective."

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