New bishop for Cuba to be announced in January

Published December 9, 2009

(L to R): U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, and Archbishop Fred Hiltz.

A new bishop will be appointed for the Episcopal Diocese of Cuba. This, after two special electoral synods failed to elect a successor to Bishop Miguel Tamayo Zaldivar, who plans to retire early next year after serving as interim bishop for six years.

The appointment will be announced in January by the Metropolitan Council of Cuba . The council is composed of Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of The Episcopal Church, and Archbishop Errol Brooks, acting primate of The Church in the Province of the West Indies. It has overseen the Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba (Episcopal Diocese of Cuba) since it separated from The Episcopal Church in 1967 because of difficult relations between the two countries’ governments.

Archbishop Hiltz and Bishop Jefferts Schori met in Toronto today to discuss the process for appointing the new bishop, who will be consecrated when the diocesan synod of Cuba meets Feb. 5 to 7.

“It’s fallen on the Metropolitan Council to help with the process,” said Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, who attended the electoral synods in June and September to oversee the elections.

Pollesel said candidates have already been identified and they will be asked to respond to a set of questions to help the Council arrive at a decision. He said that an Episcopal appointment was crucial since one of Cuba’s suffragan bishop, Nerva Cot Aguilera has already retired, and the other, Bishop Ulises Mario Aguero Prendes, is due to retire early in the new year.

The Cuban diocese has not elected its diocesan bishop for more than 20 years because of internal divisions. Bishop Tamayo, who is also the bishop of Uruguay, was himself a Council appointee.

“The hope [of the Council] is that the new bishop will be Cuban and … that the church in Cuba will move to a point where it can elect its own bishop [in the future] without having to appoint from outside,” said Pollesel.

The diocese of Cuba has also expressed “a desire” to have two dioceses instead of just one, said Pollesel. “In terms of travel, it’s a challenge to go from one end of the island to the other,” he said, adding that having two dioceses would allow bishops to have a “more hands-on Episcopal oversight.”

There are also plans to reconnect the Cuban church, which currently operates as an extra-provincial diocese, to a province of the Anglican Communion. Belonging to a province would provide “solidarity… and more connectedness to the Communion, as opposed to being an add-on,” he said.


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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