6/10/2011

Brazil, where a next faux Anglican Province is in the making.

" The Anglican Bishop of Recife, the Rt. Rev. Robinson Cavalcanti, has called for the election of a bishop-coadjutor."  So reports George Conger, who is an amazing source of information via his blog. Of course the problem is Mr. Conger sometimes misidentifies people. Cavalcanti was, as Conger later states, " Deposed along with his clergy of Recife by the IEAB for contumacy." 

So on one level of thinking,  Cavalcanti is not the "Anglican Bishop of Recife," or for that matter of anything. He is the layperson claiming to be the bishop of an Anglican Diocese. But of course there is the problem. Whose determination prevails here?

The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil says he is deposed. So they believe him to be a layperson now, with no eccleastical authority whatsoever.  The Province of origin, the Province of license, has deposed him. That should be enough, yes? No.

Conger reports, "the 2005 legal action has not been recognized by a majority of the wider Anglican Communion, and the Archbishop of Canterbury has long attempted to mediate the dispute.  Dr. Williams told a press conference at the close of the 2009 Primates Meeting he had sent emissaries to the two sides and hoped “this would lead to an eventual reconciliation.”  

So a majority of the wider Anglican Communion ...what? Primates? Synods? What?  

Well, Primates I suppose. I can't believe that church synod after church synod went through the paces of formally recognizing Cavalcanti as a bishop in spite of the deposition in Brazil.  

The Archbishop of Canterbury has met with Cavalcanti in the past, and no doubt the work for reconciliation has been ongoing. Good. But we hear nothing of the fact that Cavalcanti continues as a bishop with "provincial" connection with the Province of the Southern Cone.  And we certainly hear nothing about him proposing to be an Anglican bishop of anything.  But he is received by the Archbishop of Canterbury as a bishop, one supposes. This confuses the matter.

A great deal has been said of the deposition of the former Bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga. Here there is no question that the Province had every right to depose Kunonga. All the reports from Harare are of his continuing to be despicable in his actions. So good.  I am glad everyone recognizes his deposition.

But in Cavalcanti's case, he is touted as the Anglican Bishop of Recife. More, according to Conger, he has spread the work well beyond whatever limits there were to the diocese of Recife in the Church of Brazil. Now he has churches affiliated with his diocese in nine Brazilian states. The Diocese will elect two suffragan bishops later this year.  Who will the other ordaining bishops be? From the Southern Cone, from ACNA, from where?  

Now with three bishops and a diocese that is growing and spreading, the next step, dear friends is a new Province of Brazil. One so-called orthodox, bible based, Jerusalem declared, etc., ready to join ACNA as a so called "Province in formation."  

Cavalcanti is the bishop of nothing Anglican, as it stands. He is deposed by one of the regular paid up members of the Anglican Communion.  If the Anglican Communion can not even agree on the mutual recognition of removal of licence and deposition, then what of any positive value is to be done?

It is time for deposed bishops to be recognized as deposed by the whole of the family of churches that comprise the Anglican Communion.  Of course we can work for and pray for reconciliation, for the bringing back into the churches of those for whom confidence was lost. But while they are without license, without standing, in their own churches, at least that ought to be held as the case by other churches.

Otherwise, dear friends, there are new Provinces in the making all over the place. Why even in Harare. Don't go there. The mud is deep and the slop is high.

24 comments:

  1. But, wait. Which Anglican Communion? The old, pre-Anglican "Contract" one, or the five or six provinces that have "adopted" the Anglican "Contract"? Which the CofE has not yet adopted, so does that mean that the ABC is still not Primate?

    My, my, my. Oh, what a tangled web we weave . . . I'll let you finish that quote for yourself.

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  2. Mark, I agree. Sadly, though, if that is true for Cavalcanti, it is also true of Bishop Ssenyonjo. I believe he is right, and that he is courageous to advocate for the GLBT community in Uganda and elsewhere. I think we should support his work. But for the sake of consistency, since he lost his license in the Church of Uganda in 2002, I don't see how we can acknowledge him as a bishop. (Nor am I suggesting that I trust other things said about him by the Church of Uganda since 2002.)

    Now, I don't really want to stop speaking of Christopher Ssenyonjo as "Bishop Ssenyonjo," even as I, too, would prefer Cavalcanti didn't call himself "Anglican." On the other hand, to this point the Episcopal Church hasn't denied communion with Uganda, even if they have denied communion with us. But if we want "deposed bishops to be recognized as deposed by the whole of the family of churches that comprise the Anglican Communion," we have to accept that for those we agree with, too.

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  3. Just as a matter of truth and good form I must mention: It´s true Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo was excommunicated by Bishop orombi and the Ugandan HOB´s for defiance because he offered counseling to suicidal LGBTI Anglicans (free and on his own after retirement)...and it´s also true Bishop orombi took away his retirement pension and cast him out (and one bishop brother even slapped Bishop Christopher in the face for 1.10 suggested ¨listening¨)-- there is a BIG difference between Bishop Ssenyonjo being demonized by Bishop orombi and Bishop cavalcanti grabbing the parish property and the silver, crossing provincial boundries, doing unauthorized confirmations in dioceses and foreign provinces that forbid his ¨gifts¨ and then he cavorts with other schismatic thieves AND then, and only then, cavalcanti was called to task by his HOB´s and deposed (may I count the ways he deserved this dishonor?)!

    To tell you the truth I think +norbert and +cavalcanti have much in common in the not-much-reason for official recognition, or admirable shepherding department...Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo continues to save lives as well as souls.

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  4. Mark, In normal ecclesiastical circumstances your reasoning might hold. (Marshall's point of hypocrisy aside for the moment.) The real problem with all these "faux" accusations is that the basis of the real seat of authority (scripture and tradition) has been summarily broken. There is utter disregard for theological, ecclesiastical and geographical boundaries on all sides. Your argument would only hold if all the water of the past several years were not already under the bridge. And just what was the bucket of water that broke the first dike? The confirmation of Gene Robinson by the General Convention of TEC in 2003. Ever since that boundary was broken (trust, theological and ecclesiastical) other boundaries have broken such that the authority and legitimacy of priests, bishops, dioceses, provinces (on all sides) and of the entire Communion have disintegrated. Your comments ignore this large bull elephant in what is left in the Anglican living room.

    The Covenant is one effort to set a new boundary for a NEW Communion to exist. The former Communion is in pieces. GAFCON is another effort at forming another Communion albeit on a longer horizon, smaller grouping, circle-the-wagons sort of way. Neither will work to bring back what once was without widespread repentance on all sides. But neither effort intends to. Both are efforts at setting new boundaries for a new Communion to take shape and form out of the pieces of the old. They are efforts at re-setting mutual trust.

    The protests you make about Bishops Cavalcanti, Minns and Duncan, the ACNA and CANA and their “lack of” standing, as if there is an intact Communion to have standing in, are simply not honest to the actual context. Their actions, remember, were an inevitable response to the actions of your side of TEC. You cannot break a boundary of trust of the Communion then protest the legitimacy of those that responsively broke other boundaries of trust of the Communion without calling into question the legitimacy of your own Province, authority and actions. Protest all you like but to do so from a place of trust breaking is worse than hollow. To continue to pretend the Communion exists, that mutual trust exists, where “those hateful schismatics are the ‘illegitimate’ ones” is a sort of delusional legalism -- much akin to protesting healing on the Sabbath.

    The Communion ultimately rests upon mutual trust. For TEC to militate against the only real effort (The Covenant) to reestablish that trust is murderous to the very legitimacy it is seeking to hold onto. I can think of no better example of the Spirit of the Anti-Christ at work in the church.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Marshall and rob, you try very hard to create a hypocrisy purse out of a sow's ear but it doesn't hold water, to mix metaphors.

    Ssenyonjo has not engaged in any extra- communion church building. He has not set up an alternative church structure and claimed it to be the real, authentic Version.

    Why do conservatives believe that comparing apples to oranges makes their points legitimate? It's intellectually dishonest and a smokescreen at best.

    Ignoring the actual moratoria of Windsor and then claiming it is justifiable because the other kids are doing it just makes your side look immature. You can't elevate the anti-gay moratoria to the status of doctrine and then swep the boundaryncrossing under the rug. Or I guess you can. That is real hypocrisy in my eyes.

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  7. Brian,

    Having been around Marshall for a while, I don't think he's really trying to muddy the waters, just express his own concerns about our criteria for deciding who's in or out in what degree. He is - and this is coming from an avowed vehement progressive - Ssenyonjo is just as deposed a bishop in his church as Cavalcanti.

    I also agree with you, that there can be no comparison between a jaded and reprehensible power-and-property grab of the right-wingers and a man who sacrifices his official position to do justice for the oppressed.

    However, as a purely legal/procedural point, they are equally deposed.

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  8. I’m afraid that Rob has has his history wrong. Boundary crossings were not the result of the election of Gene Robinson. They were begun by “orthodox” militants at least five years earlier. TEC was the victim, not the perpetrator or instigator. See “Africa and Arkansas” at Anglicans Online.

    Alas, the Anglican Communion has become the Wild West. The Anglican Covenant, sad to say, is silent on the mutual recognition of ordination and deposition and on the inviolability of diocesan boundaries. It merely arms Anglican combatants with additional weapons to pursue the ongoing church wars.

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  9. Sir - if a person is acceptable to most of the AC but not to their province, and the AC has issues with the province, does the AC have to side with the province against somebody who is in line with its mind? 'Rules is rules'....some might say. But, realistically, those in line with the AC but out of line with their provinces, including ACNA, are never going to be rejected.....they have too many friends across the AC. Now, the ABC has forced the AC down this Covenant road and he wants all to sign and all to abide by collective responsibility (no unilateral actions ..... by anyone) - if some provinces will not do that but Anglicans in that province can happily do so, the AC has no good reason to rejct them. Rules is rules and semantics are similar - but even the Anglican world has to have some sense and order to it.....

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  10. Rules don’t have to be all that problematic. If a priest is deposed by one Anglican church, he—why is it always a he?—immediately becomes a non-priest. If another Anglican (or non-Anglican) church wants to make him a priest in their church, that’s fine.

    On the other hand, property, either real or personal, should not be allowed to be removed from a church’s control because a priest is deposed or decides he doesn’t like his church any more.

    Finally, no Anglican church should be allowed to have oversight of a church within the geographic boundaries of another Anglican church. Nor should any member of its clergy act in a professional capacity within the geographic boundaries of another Anglican Church without permission.

    If the Communion does not want to abide by these rules, we should agree to that explicity. I consider the exclusive franchise traditionally granted by the Communion to be one of the greatest benefits of Communion membership. Without it, the case for membership is much diminished. If the Communion wants to operate by survival of the fittest, then bring it on!

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  11. I receive Lionel's historical correction, to a point. In addition to the one he refers to there were of course prior trust breaking moves on various sides. These types of actions don't appear out of a vacuum.(The first ordinations of women in TEC and Women's ordination being optional comes to mind.) But these prior actions did not break the Communion. That happened in 2003.

    (Thank you Mark Brunson for rightly bringing us back to the valid point Marshall Scott was making regarding deposed bishops - personal judgments of depositions being justly or unjustly done is not the ecclesiastical point. It was not muddy the waters.)

    Lionel expresses his belief that geographic boundaries are inviolet. -- In my words that this trust should not be broken. Others in the communion have other boundaries that are inviolet on other boundaries. Mutual submission requires guarding one another's boundaries.

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  12. Mark thank you for your mediation -- far more Christ-like than my original comment.

    I fear I am a jaded political operative that has seen the conservative side use this tried and true false-equivalency/“he did it first” tactic too many times to justify things I find to be very disturbing and to pretend that there is no nuance to anything.

    That’s what has gotten American media outlets and our political landscape into the mess we are now in. Simply splitting the baby in half was not considered a wise course by Solomon nor do I think it works with claims about “both sides are wrong therefore continue on course”.

    As I understand it, Ssenyonjo is bishop of his own denomination now, The Ugandan Charismatic Church, and as such would be entitled, as it were, to be addressed as “bishop” of that denomination. Perhaps the water could be muddied further if we appended that with formerly Bishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda, Now Deposed Bishop, Presently Independent Bishop of the Ugandan Charismatic Church Ssenyonjo?

    I haven’t been able to find any evidence that the new denomination claims to be Anglican Communion affiliated, more popular with worldwide Anglicans than the original version, in sole possession of the faith once delivered, or anything remotely similar to what is happening in Recife and elsewhere with the GAFCON movement so I stand by my claim that there is no parity between the two cases.

    Perhaps I am wrong. May God bless us all anyway.

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  13. Brother Brunson, thanks. As I said, I have great respect for Ssenyonjo, Bishop or no; and little for Cavalcanti. However, Brother Harris (too many Mark's here, without some clarification) was, as I understood him, speaking specifically to an ecclesiastical, canonical issue. Brian, I am more than happy to recognize Bishop Ssenyonjo of the Ugandan Charismatic Church. On the other hand, the only notice I had seen about the Ugandan Charismatic Church was a notice of disavowal from the (Anglican) Church of Uganda; and I wasn't prepared to automatically accept their report.

    Rob, respect for diocesan boundaries dates to the Council of Nicea. While we have come to have representatives of our divided traditions within one area (say, a Roman diocese, an Orthodox diocese, an Anglican diocese, etc), within one specific tradition we have continued to respect that principle.

    While we tend to fret about the issues right before us, sometimes they aren't new. So, there have been multiple jurisdictions within the Orthodox tradition in the United States for years. For a while, there have also been multiple jurisdictions of Anglican heritage, most of them having left the Episcopal Church over Prayer Book revision and the ordination of women. Those other groups are, however, clear: while from their perspective they represent the best of the Anglican tradition, they do not claim to be part of the Communion, much less to be more appropriately part of the Communion than the older body that they left. That is our problem with ACNA's claim, or with Cavalcanti's.

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  14. geographical boundaries....that is the same 'rules is rules' argument..... not an argumented respected by Cranmer and Henry VIII and, 2000 yrs ago, the priests in Jerusalem were very upset by a rabbi from Nazareth preaching on 'their' territory! The same rabbi did not limit his disciples to any geography..... and when an Anglican church has very few in its region attending, its case for others not to work in the same region is even weaker...... but, sorry, 'realpolitik' bites more strongly than rules..... just like 'street politics' suggests putting 'facts on the ground' and daring the bigger organisation to respond in any meaningful way, realpolitik means the bigger organisation has to listen to its biggest constituent parts and smaller attendance means smaller influence.....rules is rules..... small parts of the AC don't get to set the rules for the majority..... just as small parts of TEC (now called ACNA) didn't get to set the rules in TEC.....

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  15. Anonymous...notice the rule above the caption box. "Please do not sign off as anonymous:begin or end the message with a name - any name. Anonymous commentary will be cut.

    Trouble is, your comments, although often bending history to fit your needs, are provocative and sometimes insightful. I hate to cut them, even when I think you are wrong.

    But you either have to put a name on your post so we can tell you from every other anonymous or you will be cut from comments.

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  16. I oculd be wrong, but I always understood that a deposed priest is still a priest - he/she is simply no longer licensed by the body deposing him/her and can no longer function as a priest in that church body. Unless i have it all wrong, Lionel's statement "If a priest is deposed by one Anglican church, he—why is it always a he?—immediately becomes a non-priest," is simply inaccurate.
    Dan

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  17. Well, I had some qualms about what I said about deposed priests. I’m not sure that the understanding is universal, but Dan is correct about what I think most knowledgeable Episcopalians believe. (I am an agnostic on this particular point.) In any case, a deposed priest is, in a sense, churchless and, I believe, should be allowed to function as a priest only after becoming an official priest in some church.

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  18. Brian,

    Thank you! I'm rarely accused of mediation, and, if by jaded, you mean "fairly regularly enraged by injustice and distrustful of the right-wing" I have to stand in the box with you.

    I take your point - I'm fairly cut off in this 21st Century; no television, computers only at work, no car, so I was unaware of Bp. Ssenyonjo's new denomination.

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  19. . . why is it always a he?

    I would expect because there is no reason for a woman in the priesthood to feel they've lost some sort of privilege in TEC, and because the drive to force the entirety of Anglicanism to the far right is almost entirely clergy-driven, with disaffected lay people as hangers-on.

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  20. Oops! Arrest warrant for an African Primate! here

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  21. don francisco17/6/11 11:48 AM

    Thank God for this man !!

    Don Francisco

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  22. Dear Mark
    Thanks for your clear words about misunderstanding that still prevails within the AC on the Cavalcanti`s deposition.
    Unfortunately, the Southern Cone created this problem when receiving this man in a personal Primate pastoral oversight - with any canonical or legal basis.
    Thank you again for raise questions about this issue.
    Rt Revd Francisco de Assis da Silva

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  23. There is no "misunderstanding" regarding Cavalcanti and his actions. There is widespread respect and encouragement as he does battle with TEC's surrogate in South America.
    Dan

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  24. Really, Dan? From what I have heard, there is nothing but disgust for Cavalcanti in most Anglican circles in Brazil for his acting as the tool of con evo forces of political and religious reaction.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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