THE PRIMATE of the Southern Cone, at the southernmost tip of South America,
the Most Revd Gregory Venables, has assumed control of large parts of a
Bishop Venables wrote to the Bishop and clergy of Recife that he intended to
provide "a special status of extra-provincial recognition" of the 32 clergy
deposed by the suffragan Bishop of Recife, the Rt Revd Filadelfo Oliveira Neto
News, 9 September).
The dispute in Recife has been raging since the former Bishop, the Rt Revd
Robinson Cavalcanti, took part in irregular confirmations in Ohio in March 2004
News, 19 March 2004). The Primate of Brazil, the Most Revd Orlando Santo de
Oliveira, attempted to discipline Bishop Cavalcanti, and eventually deposed
him. Thirty-two clerics, two-thirds of the diocese of Recife, continued to
support Bishop Cavalcanti, and were themselves deposed in August this year.
A fortnight ago, the diocesan standing committee in Recife issued a
statement arguing that Bishop Cavalcanti had been legally deposed from the
Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, having "acted in bad faith and ideological
falsehood". It also states that the former Bishop "surreptitiously took
measures to change the statutes, transferring property which belonged to the
The committee’s statement also says that the schism was "not due to a
conflict between ‘orthodox Evangelicals’ and ‘revisionist liberals’", but a
dispute about authority.
Despite this, the Nigerian Primate, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, banned the
Brazilian Primate from the forthcoming meeting of Anglican leaders from the
Global South, to be held in Alexandria, accusing him of "creating a crisis
concerning our relations" (
News, 16 September).
When the Anglican Primates met in Newry in February, they announced the
setting up of a panel of reference to referee cross-border actions by bishops.
They stated: "We commit ourselves neither to encourage nor to initiate
cross-boundary interventions" (
News, 4 March).
Bishop Venables justifies his action in his letter: "Due to the gravity of
the attempt to declare the removal of the Bishop, and the declaration of
excommunication of 40 [sic] of the diocesan clergy, and the extremely slow pace
at which the panel of reference is operating, a great gap has been created,
exposing the need for the bishop and clergy of Recife to receive ongoing
recognition and some measure of spiritual covering."
He says that, having consulted other Primates, he will "continue to support
these ordinations and ministries . . . until such time as the panel of
reference, the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Anglican Communion has, in some
way, adequately addressed this crisis".
The matter is believed to have been considered by the panel of reference,
which met in August, but no pronouncement has been made. The panel reports to
Dr Williams, and undertakes to submit its advice within six months of being
In the mean time, the American Anglican Council, a conservative grouping in
the US, has objected to the removal of Bishop Cavalcanti’s name from the
Anglican Communion website. A spokesman for the Communion office said on
Wednesday: "It was at the request of the provincial authorities, the Primate,
and the provincial secretary that we removed it. It is their site, not ours."
Anglican pain. The Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Robin Eames,
spoke this week about the "hurt and dismay" cause by the present dispute about
sexuality and authority in the Anglican Communion.
In a pair of lectures at the Virginia Theological Seminary, where he
received an honorary doctorate, Dr Eames said: "The impressions of the Anglican
Communion I gained in the preparation of the Windsor report are dominated by
one word: pain."
Calls for remedies abound, he said. His experience in Northern Ireland had
taught him four things about reconciliation:
"First, reconciliation cannot be forced. It comes when parties wish to be
"Second, reconciliation involves pain just as the situation to be reconciled
"Third, reconciliation does not mean the total achievement of individual
aims. It speaks of honest compromise.
"Fourth, reconciliation involves recognition of the possible and
acknowledgement of difference."
Dr Eames concluded: "Anglicanism needs a new theology of relationships . . .
and a new means of cementing what we all most long for — unity in Christ."