Souther Cone Prelate Addresses Dissidents in North America

Q&A: Bishop Zavala of Cono Sur

  • Monday, April 29, 2013

The Most Rev. Héctor (Tito) Zavala is Bishop of Chile and Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone: Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de América (the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America). Elected in November 2010, he is the province’s first Latin American primate, as well as Chile’s first Latino bishop. Sue Careless interviewed him in April at the Eastern Assembly of the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), where he was the keynote speaker. (n.b. no connection with the official Anglican Church of Canada: ed.)

Your province covers the lower half of the continent of South America. Is it growing numerically?
Yes. We have about 25,000 members in a continent of 110 million people. The Province of the Southern Cone is made up of six nations and seven dioceses: Chile (with about 100 parishes), Northern Argentina (200), Argentina [from Buenos Aires south] (30), Peru (60), Bolivia (10), Paraguay (50), and Uruguay (20). This November we will meet to decide on whether to form two provinces.

How do you reach your people when they are spread over such a vast expanse?
I live in the middle of Chile, in Santiago, so I travel by car to reach congregations nearby and take the overnight bus to reach more distant parishes. However, I fly to Arica at the top of Chile and to visit the most southerly Anglican parish in the world in Punta Arenas. Every May and November I fly to chair meetings of the executive committee of the province, which moves its meetings around the six nations.

In 2003, after the Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop within the Anglican Communion, the Province of the Southern Cone severed its relationship with the Episcopal Church. It also broke communion with the Anglican Church of Canada after one of its dioceses in 2002 authorized a rite for blessing same-sex unions. Are you still in broken communion with these two provinces?

Yes. In 2010 when an earthquake struck in Chile, I received many, many phone calls from [the Episcopal Church Center in] New York offering us money. But I said no; not out of arrogance but because we had broken communion with TEC and it would not be right to accept their money.

Did you ask permission of the local Anglican Church of Canada bishop to visit here?
No, because I am coming to another, different Anglican church.

In 2003, the Province of the Southern Cone offered Episcopal oversight to conservative Anglicans who had left the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada but who wanted to realign with another province. Does this make you a primate of the Anglican Church in North America along with its elected primate, Bob Duncan?
No. That is over. We provided temporary supervision. When ACNA was founded in Texas in 2008 the very next day I had breakfast with Bishop John Guernsey and said, “My churches in the States will now be under your supervision. Let me know what I should do to pass them to you.” Others like [Bishops] Frank Lyons of Bolivia and Greg Venables may have taken a bit more time but the Southern Cone decided to pass the [North American] churches to the new ACNA primate.

Yet you have access to the Archbishop of Canterbury and Duncan does not. You were invited to Welby’s enthronement but Duncan was not. You can speak on behalf of ACNA in those places where ACNA is not invited.
Yes, of course. The protecting body for ACNA now is GAFCON [the Global Anglican Future Conference]. There are two bodies. The Global South is just for southern provinces in Africa, South America, and Asia. But GAFCON is more a doctrinal group than a geographical one. ANiC and ACNA cannot belong to the Global South but they can be part of GAFCON. Theologically we are together. GAFCON was an event [in Jerusalem in 2008], and the group that it created is called the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA). Now it is more than just the Southern Cone supporting and speaking on ACNA’s behalf when necessary. It is primates from Africa and Asia as well. ACNA is recognized by the majority of Anglicans and primates in the world.

Do you or GAFCON have any plans to reconcile ACNA with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada?
We don’t see our role in that way. The new Archbishop of Canterbury wants to work for the reconciliation of the church around the world. I don’t know how he will do it. I don’t know if TEC or the ACC will change. We will not renounce what we believe. Our understanding in GAFCON is that TEC and the ACC have another gospel; it is not the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ. If they move back to the Bible we can be in communion.

Isn’t the [conservative] Diocese of Recife in Brazil also under your jurisdiction?
Yes and no. According to our canons our province cannot have dioceses apart from the Southern Cone. Recife cannot be part of us but the last Archbishop of Canterbury [Rowan Williams] said, “You can go to Recife and provide pastoral supervision. ” I have no authority in Recife to call for a synod. I can preach and greet the people and provide pastoral care but I cannot perform confirmations or ordinations”.

You have spoken of “the heavy machinery” or bureaucracy behind the Archbishop of Canterbury. How much does it run things?
I met the last Archbishop of Canterbury. Rowan Williams is a very nice man. But all the machinery behind him, the bureaucracy, is led by liberals; the Anglican Consultative Council is controlled by liberals; the Anglican Communion Office is controlled by liberals as well.

There are four instruments of unity: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Consultative Council, the primates’ meetings, and the Lambeth Conference. The Archbishop of Canterbury calls and leads the primates’ peetings and is a member of the Anglican Consultative Council but does not call its meetings. He does call the meetings of the Lambeth Conference.

Would you like to see the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury opened up to any bishop in the Anglican Communion?
That is not possible because of his many responsibilities within England.

Do you think there is a desire in the FCA to have a second leader from outside of Britain who can represent the Anglican Communion?
There was talk of a parallel [non-British] archbishop but that idea died a few years ago. We don’t see our role in that way. We are true Anglicans because we believe and respect the Thirty-nine Articles. And the Prayer Book of 1662 is our doctrinal basis. We want to work within the Anglican Communion.

Don’t we really have two separate international entities now, the FCA and the more liberal rest of the Communion? And the Archbishop of Canterbury is trying to straddle them both. Do we really have a global Communion anymore?
Anglicans are one universal body. We have internal tensions. That is happening now. Maybe we will have to live forever with those tensions. We had that issue in the Southern Cone in 2003. Why not leave the Communion? We decided no, because we are true Anglicans. Instead we broke communion with the ACC and TEC.

You haven’t had a primates’ meeting for some time. Did you have one after the new Archbishop of Canterbury’s enthronement since you were all invited?
We had an informal Primates’ Meeting in three different groups with the archbishop. I was in a Global South one. The last formal primates’ meeting was in January 2011. Probably the new Archbishop will call another Primates’ Meeting in the next 12 months. The agenda is set by the liberal Anglican Communion Office but it should be set by the Primates themselves.

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The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of South America, once led by Bishop Greg Venables – a noted member of the GAFCON (mainly African) group of Anglican Provinces that have elected to break relationship with TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, on grounds of their inclusivity on matters of gender and sexuality – is now under the Episcopal Presidency of Bishop Hector (Tito) Savala, of Chile.

From this Question and Answer Session – reported on the ‘Living Church’ conservative web-site in North America – it may be noted that Bishop Savala, is following closely in the footsteps of his predecessor, Greg Venables, in cosying up to the dissident A.C.i.C. and ACNA churches in North America, while still maintaining ostensible links (like GAFCON) with the See of Canterbury.

Interestingly, Bishop Savala was invited to, and attended, the recent Enthronement of the new Archbishop Justin Welby at Canterbury – even though his confreres from ACiA and ACNA (with whom GAFCON and the Southern Cone Province has fraternal relationships) were not invited.

This outlines the tricky situation of relationships within the Communion at the present, where ACiA & ACNA both seek relationship with Canterbury, via the various GAFCON Provinces – like Southern Cone – which have planted these dissident, quasi-Anglican, churches in the USA and Canada; while the local National Anglican Church (TEC and the AC of C) are the only official Anglican Communion Churches in North America.

This situation highlights the fact that there are ‘Cuckoos in the Nest’ of mainstream Anglicanism in North America, which have no official status of themselves within the world-wide Anglican Communion – having been incubated under the piratical provenance of official (though dissident) Provinces of the Communion, like Southern Cone & the GAFCON Provinces.

One of the questions, in the article above, sets the scene of this other-worldly situation:

Q: “Did you ask permission of the local Anglican Church of Canada bishop to visit here?”

Bishop Savala – “No, because I am coming to another, different, Anglican church”.

The only sense one could possibly make make of such ‘Border-Crossing’ would be – if the GAFCON Provinces were officially intending to set up a totally different Anglican Church from that residing at present  under the provenance and oversight of the Lambeth Conference and the See of Canterbury. If this indeed is going to be the case, then the sooner GAFCON declares its true intent, the better for all concerned. GAFCON will be able to pursue its ‘sola-scriptura’ mission, and the rest of us will be free to proclaim The Good News of Our Lord Jesus Christ, inclusively, to ALL the world.

It is already well-known that the GAFCON Provinces have set up their own regional organisation, seemingly in opposition to the Lambeth Conference. Their piratical setting up of rival churches within the territories of TEC and The Anglican Church of Canada – which occurred soon after TEC ordained their first openly Gay Bishop; and the AC of C provided a form of Same-Sex Blessings – provided the first schismatic pseudo-anglican church bodies within the Anglican Communion in 2003. These new churches have never been formally accepted as part of the world-wide Anglican Communion – in communion with Canterbury. It remains to be seen what will become of their future  – whether within the Communion or as part of the GAFCON. 

Let us pray that this stand-off situation in the Communion will not continue for too long. It is too debilitating for the historic calling of the inclusive Anglican Witness in and to a world crying out for Love, & the Forgiveness and Mercy of a Long-Suffering, Holy God.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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