Uruguay thwarted in attempt to switch provinces

The diocese of Uruguay, based in Montevideo, is made up of seven parishes and five missions. Photo: jorisvo
The diocese of Uruguay, based in Montevideo, is made up of seven parishes and five missions. Photo: jorisvo
Published November 22, 2012

The diocese of Uruguay says it feels “abandoned and unsupported” after the standing committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) turned down its request to change provinces.

The diocese, which is part of the province of the Southern Cone, has asked that it be transferred to the province of Brasil, which it says is “more compatible” in terms of theology, mission and philosophy.

It appealed to the ACC standing committee to review its decision, saying it feels “adrift, as if condemned to stay in a province where it doesn’t fit.”

In 2010, the diocese voted to seek another jurisdiction after a proposal to allow dioceses to individually permit the ordination of women to the priesthood was turned down by the 10th Southern Cone synod. The diocese of Uruguay, which currently has female deacons, has been requesting the ordination of women for more than a decade.

In a press statement, Uruguay’s diocesan permanent committee, said the standing committee’s suggestions for a way forward only focused on the election of a bishop co-adjutor, which it undertook last year. This election was not ratified by the province, however.

Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, former general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, was elected in that process. The province has rejected his election twice, a move that the Uruguay diocese described as “the last straw.”

The diocese said it would have no problem holding another episcopal election, but that the ministry and mission of the new bishop and the diocese would “still be constrained by the missiological, philosophical and theological differences” with the province. The standing committee appears to have overlooked these differences “and offers no way forward,” it said. The diocese has tried to “follow the rules and its request is still being ignored.”

The diocese had appealed a transfer to the ACC standing committee this past July. Formerly, it requested permission to leave the province. The request was denied.

Uruguay has been part of the Southern Cone since its formation in 1988. The Southern Cone includes dioceses in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru.

The 15-member ACC standing committee includes seven members elected by the ACC, five members of the Primates’ standing committee, and the chair and vice-chair of the ACC. Their mandate is to assist the churches of the 77-million strong Anglican Communion “in advancing the work of their mission worldwide,” according to the ACC website.



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