ECUSA poised to welcome Cubans

By on June 1, 2002

Cuban Bishop Jorge Perera, Canadian Primate Archbishop Michael Peers and Dominican Republic Bishop Julio Holguin at Cuban synod.

An official from the Episcopal Church in the United States says the church’s Governing Council would likely welcome a move to bring Cuban Anglicans back under the umbrella of the U.S. church.

The Anglican Journal reported in April that the Cuban Episcopal Church plans to ask for such a move, largely for financial reasons.

In an interview with Rev. Jan Nunley of the Episcopal News Service, Rev. Patrick Mauney, director, Anglican and Global Relations for ECUSA denied that the Cuban church was expelled in 1967, as Cuba Bishop Jorge Perera Hurtado said at the church’s synod in Havana last February.

He said that the Cuban church was a missionary district of ECUSA and when president Fidel Castro took over, ECUSA feared that the Cuban church would be in peril because of its association with the United States.

Mr. Mauney also said that the separation took place “in consultation with the bishop in Cuba” to give the Cuban church some “political space.”

The Cuban church was part of ECUSA until 1967, and its desire to return to ECUSA is partly driven by the search for a clergy pension fund, which the Cuban church cannot afford to provide to its clergy.

Mr. Mauney said that all pensions for clergy ordained in the Cuban church at that time were paid and he thinks there are still some left on the rolls. He said that ECUSA’s presiding bishop, Frank Griswold, is “delighted” at the prospect of reunion with Cuba and added that General Convention has passed resolutions asking the U.S. government to normalize relations with Cuba. (Bishop Griswold was not available for comment).

The Cuban synod struck a small committee to work on the wording of its requests, which it hopes to present to the next General Convention in 2003.

Since 1967, the Cuban church has been “extra-provincial”, with special oversight from the Metropolitan Council of Cuba, chaired by Canada’s primate, Archbishop Michael Peers.

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