The Southern Cone makes its bid, storm to follow.

The Province of the Southern Cone has determined to invite dissenter dioceses from the Episcopal Church to become part of that Province, this according to the Telegraph's Jonathan Petre. While this news will cause a storm of commentary and will seriously undermine efforts to keep the Anglican Communion alive and intact, it is not particularly surprising.

According to the Telegraph,
"Up to five are expected to become part of the Southern Cone, which covers most of South America except Brazil, over the next six months or so.

The diocese of San Joaquin in California, which is due to take its final vote in December, is poised to leap first, while Pittsburgh, headed by Bishop Bob Duncan, will have to wait until the middle of next year.

Until now, only parishes have left the American Episcopal Church and affiliated with overseas provinces in Africa, often amid protracted and expensive legal battles over property.

But for the first time, there will be rival dioceses, each claiming to be authentically Anglican, operating in parallel within the same geographical boundaries.'

Here at Preludium this has been our prediction for some time. On October 4th I wrote an article, "A Pile-Up Yes, but Almighty" in which I suggested that various reports made the Southern Cone the most likely candidate for Jonathan Petre's prediction of an invitation from a Province to take in the dissenters.

The Southern Cone, with Presiding Bishop Greg Venables at the helm, has steered a decidedly protestant evangelical route, without much internal success. The Province covers Argentina, Chile, Peru, Paraguay and Uruguay. There are 6 dioceses in the Province and a breakaway group calling themselves a diocese in Brazil. There are possbily 30,000 members of the Province. Growth by taking in dissenters is not new to the Southern Cone, witness taking in Recife's deposed bishop and followers, but the move, apparently approved yesterday at the Synod in Chile, will, if successful vastly increase membership and no doubt change the politics of the Province. The introduction of one or two groups calling themselves the diocese of this or that place in the US will double the membership of the province.

The leadership of the Province, already mostly in the hands of British and American expatriates will now drift into the hands of the newbies from the North.

This will provide a way for groups leaving to reconstitute themselves as dioceses under alternative Primatial arrangements. It will not mean that, say, the Diocese of Pittsburgh of The Episcopal Church will leave, but rather that it will remain, and the people who wish will go. They will become something else, say, the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, Province of the Southern Cone. Supposedly up to five diocese in the US will begin to walk, taking as much as they can with them. The Episcopal Church will remain, and it is clear that the Presiding Bishop knows to stay the course. If all of this actually happens the Dioceses will be declared vacant and new bishops will be found or other missionary decisions will be made.

It will be a mess, but then things are a mess anyway.


  1. So Mark - it's all about numbers again, and so what? Really it doesn't matter whether the Southern Cone province is 5k or 5m - what matters is that these dioceses may be joining under the SC because they are of like mind theologically.

    You seem to think yourselves in ECUSA to be remarkably superior to Abp Venables : "The Southern Cone, with Presiding Bishop Greg Venables at the helm, has steered a decidedly protestant evangelical route, without much internal success." - As if ECUSA has such great internal success over the last 3 years or so, haemorrhaging around 1,000 members a week while pursuing an unbiblical socially liberal gospel.

    Is it really your contention that the Province of SC may be offering to provide pastoral leadership for ECUSA's dissenting diocese just to boost its numbers?

  2. The comparative failure of the Southern Cone to significantly expand its membership within its current geographical borders had interested me, given what one reads about the inroads that protestant evangelical sects are supposedly making in this previously monolithic Roman Catholic region. Guess that picking off wealthier dissident North American congregations is a more rewarding, less demanding option for expansion.

  3. Mark,

    Is your last paragraph a prophecy, or an actual statement of policy as a member of Executive Council, or what?


  4. brian f: You ask, "s it really your contention that the Province of SC may be offering to provide pastoral leadership for ECUSA's dissenting diocese just to boost its numbers?"


    rjsj: the last paragraph is neither prophecy or a policy statement. It is my read of the realities.

  5. Surely I'm not the only one who notices this: After stalking to and fro throughout the "Global South," the American schismatics have managed to find a white guy to be their primate. Fancy that.

  6. Mark, can I ask - don't you think that the actions of TEC at GC 03 & 06 have not "seriously undermined efforts to keep the Anglican Communion alive and intact"?

  7. Lisa-You're not the only one to notice it. Their no dummies - but then neither are we.

  8. Of course, anyone and everyone who is unable or unwilling to live with a diversity of views on non-core issues of biblical interpretation - for that is what this is all about - is free to leave TEC, albeit individually.

    (Yes, I know and respect that there are those who do not believe there's any such thing as a non-core biblical/doctrinal issue, the Creeds notwithstanding. For the past century or so, however, the Anglican Communion has agreed that the primary issues for church unity are upheld in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. Too, we Anglicans have learned to agree to disagree within the same family on secondary biblical issues like women's ordination. The status quo in the Anglican Communion is quite simply diversity of thought and practice on non-core issues - and that's not changing.)

    Amidst all this, though, it is just plain foolish to believe that the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church have no meaning, weight or enforceability.

    Why some people might leave for reasons of conscience is perfectly clear to me. Why they would try to take Episcopal Church property in the process baffles. If this were really just about conscience, one would simply leave and renounce all connection with TEC (or, in the case of clergy, request a canonical transfer, which would likely be granted). So it must be about something else...and that something looks a lot like maintaining material wealth and seeking power. This, of course, is certainly not true for all, but appears to be true for many.

  9. Ould,

    Do you think that any other opposition bishops and primates made any contribution at all to the schism? Would you assign them any responsibility at all for their actualizing the schismatic potentialities opened by GC2003 or not?

    Even an infintisimal iota of responisibility?

    If you do not, then you have nothing to praise them for, as you render them entirely passive--and nothing to blame them for not doing. But of course you and your ilk are replete with praise and blame for assorted conservative bishops and primates. Unless you are schizophrenic, you do see them as responisible contributors to schism, along with their left wing counterparts, no?

  10. Lisa, did you ever doubt that they would settle on a white primate? And a far gentler taskmaster than some of his African counterparts would have been.

    Query, since the issue of race is raised - to what extent, if any, do the politics that have led to the present situation have roots in the Episcopal Church's response to the Civil Rights Movement?

  11. Archbishop/PB Venables, posting in person on T19 yesterday, indicated that he has "just been relected unanimously as Primate" and, in a slightly later post, that "the arrangement is temporary and pastoral". It is unclear to me whether "the arrangement" referred to his re-election or his position vis-a-vis the would-be secessionist US dioceses. Probably the latter. On the same thread, Bill Atwood clarifies the PB/Archbishop confusion a little.


  12. Lapinbizarre
    That would depend on what you imagine was the Episcopal Church's response to the Civil Rights movement. TEC likes to reflect on how it has always been in the forefront of social justice issues.

    The engagement of PECUSA as a church in the civil rights movement varied widely both within and between diocese but I think it's safe to say that while there certainly were individual priests, lay and congregations that made a contribution to the effort, there was no real churchwide institutional support for it until it became clear that to do otherwise would place the church on the wrong side of the issue. That would be at the earliest 1963's March on Washington.

    Similarly, except for a few celebrity priests, PECUSA was largely silent on the war in Vietnam, until public opinion had clearly turned against it.

    The only social justice issue (if that's what it is) that PECUSA (now ECUSA) was out front on was allowing the irregular women's ordinations to stand in 1976 (sorry if the year is wrong). And then of course Robinson's consecration.

    As with most people, we really put more energy into fighting for our own rights and privileges than we do for other people's.

  13. Well, if ++Cantuar did want to help Southern Cone out he can give them the Falklands back. He owns that one. But he does not own Pittsburgh. It is just not his decision to make.

  14. Thanks for the various clarifications Anonymous. Ain't that almost always the case? Gregory Venables explained his "temporary & pastoral" statement on the same T19 thread. He is referring to the N. American dioceses, not to his re-election as PB/Archbishop of the Southern Cone.

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    has showed that accessories next season were all about a return to the age of innocence.


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