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US Episcopal Presiding Bishop Curry urges Haitian bishops to reconcile

09 December 2016

CREATIVE COMMONS

Healing waters: A mural depicting the baptism of Jesus, at the Anglican Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Healing waters: A mural depicting the baptism of Jesus, at the Anglican Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

THE Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Most Revd Michael Curry, has asked that feuding bishops in the diocese of Haiti avoid an “unflattering public trial”, and instead seek reconciliation with each other.

The Bishop of Haiti, the Rt Revd Jean Zaché Duracin, and his Suffragan, the Rt Revd Ogé Beauvoir, are in an undisclosed dispute, which has now led to a pending disciplinary tribunal for Bishop Duracin, prompted by allegations made by Bishop Beauvoir.

The Episcopal Church has refused to explain what the allegations are, but has confirmed that they do not revolve around financial misconduct.

Now, in an open letter to both bishops, Bishop Curry has urged the pair to begin an internal process of reconciliation rather than pursuing their grievances in public.

“The troubles that have faced and continue to face the diocese of Haiti are of grave concern. Serious divisions have arisen in the diocese — divisions between the two bishops, and divisions among the clergy and, undoubtedly, the laity.”

Since he visited Haiti in August, it has become clear that the disciplinary proceedings sparked by Bishop Beauvoir’s allegations “will continue to move toward an unflattering public trial within the next few months — with painful allegations by both bishops against each other and testimony by clergy of the diocese as witnesses on both sides — unless a way can be found to resolve it amicably”.

Bishop Curry also said that he had a responsibility to ensure that “every reasonable effort” is exerted to heal the divisions before “further damage is done to the diocese and the larger Church”.

He has appointed a three-man panel to mediate between the different factions, and in particular, the two bishops. Each will soon be called to face-to-face meetings with the panel in New York to assess the scale of the disagreements.

Earlier this year the Episcopal Church also imposed a moratorium on donations to development work in the diocese, which is the largest in the Church.

The move came after one donor, who had been due to give $5 million for projects on the island run by the diocese, instead cut their gift to $700,000, to rebuild a centre for disabled children which was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake, the blog Living Church reported in September.

Bishop Curry’s letter said that the financial concerns about development work within the diocese had been addressed by a new memorandum of understanding between the diocese and the national Church. The deal had “a focus on joint decision-making and sound and responsible financial practices”.

The letter ended with the prayer of St Francis: “Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union”.

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