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.