Posted On : November 15, 2010 9:22 AM

One week after a proposal to allow dioceses to individually permit women's ordination to the priesthood was turned down by the Tenth Synod of the Province of the Southern Cone, the Diocese of Uruguay has voted to seek another jurisdiction with which to share its ministry. The vote in the Province had been by a specific request of the Diocese of Uruguay and sought to allow a diocesan option in the matter, rather than Province-wide adoption, so that the diocese could proceed to minister within a very difficult agnostic milieu. Uruguay felt that after a nine-year hiatus since the last vote for approval, a patient wait would be rewarded. That was not the result and so the Uruguayan Synod took this measure to move away from the Province.

The extraordinary diocesan Synod was held November 12 in the capital city of Montevideo and the motion to quit the Province was proposed by the Diocesan Council and passed with a simple majority vote in orders according to the Uruguayan canonical process. Bishop Miguel Tamayo then informed the Primate, Hector 'Tito' Zavala, Bishop of Chile, the other Bishops and the Executive Council.

The diocese requests that permission for transfer from the Province take place within the year and that, if this is not possible, an appeal would be made to the Anglican Consultative Council to arrange for oversight, following Provincial canons. Uruguay has been a diocese within the Southern Cone since its formation in 1988.

COMMENT: This is, of course, brilliant news, especially for women, as it shows how equality for all is slowly, but surely, becoming accepted as a basic human right in all areas of the world and not just in the rich, developed nations.

However, we must be careful as this is very much a boot on the other foot situation. Uruguay is a diocese. If it is given permission, as a diocese, to leave one province and become a member of another, then those dioceses in the USA that could easily achieve a simple majority vote to leave TEC and align with one of the many misogynist or homophobic provinces still spewing their bile in the Anglican Communion, should also be allowed to do so.

To avoid such a situation getting out of control the Anglican Communion should revert to its original orthopraxis of insisting that each province is a national, orthodox church. The Anglican Church in Uruguay, no matter how few members it may have, should become a province in its own right, as should all national churches that are, at this moment in time, part of a multinational province. Such a move would be totally in line with the true nature of Anglicanism and would strengthen the campaign to halt the Grand Tufti's plans to turn the Anglican Communion away from the Orthodox paradigm and towards the Roman Catholic (Roman Empire) model of church. National churches do not need to be established (most orthodox national churches are not). National churches do not need to develop an insular worldview (again, most orthodox nation churches are not). But their definite geographic, cultural, social and political attachments make them the most effective agencies of mission that is possible on our multinational planet. The anti-Covenant campaign should not be just a negative campaign against the proposed covenant. It should take the opportunity now present of fighting to return the Anglican Communion to a purer state, to an apostolic, early church paradigm where democracy practiced within local churches prevailed until the bishops of the Church started to demand obedience from those they served and grabbed the authority that once belonged to the Holy Spirit alone.



  1. “The Anglican Church in Uruguay, no matter how few members it may have, should become a province in its own right, as should all national churches that are, at this moment in time, part of a multinational province. Such a move would be totally in line with the true nature of Anglicanism…”

    I completely agree with you.

    And you’re so right. It will be a disasterous precedent, indeed, if Uruguay as a diocese is allowed to align with another province.

  2. This is a different situation. The Southern Cone Constitution and Canons explicitly state that the Province is composed of those dioceses which “voluntarily declare themselves as integral Diocesan members of the Province.” It also explicitly provides for a mechanism to leave the Province, which Uruguay have invoked:

    11.4 “A Diocese with sufficient reason and with the consent of the Provincial Synod may move to another Metropolitan Jurisdiction.”

    11.5 “A Member Diocese with sufficient cause and with consent of the Provincial Synod may withdraw from the Province. If the condition for such a withdrawal has been completed, the President of the Province shall notify the president of the Anglican Consultative Council and will ask that a provision for Metropolitan Jurisdiction be made for said Diocese. If the prior procedure is not possible, the Diocese may go directly to the Anglican Consultative Council.”

    Uruguay are simply following the provision of their own Constitution and Canons – which are not provided for in TEC. Additionaly Uruaguay is a separate country, unlike those dioceses of TEC which are attempting to leave. And since Uruguay geographically adjoins Brazil there should be no problem with them joining that province – they would not be a diocese of some distant province, but would simply be transferring geographically, as happened in Central America.

  3. What anon. said. Our Constitution and Canons simply wouldn’t allow this. The only way they could “leave” is the method chosen by the former members of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, Fort Worth, or Pittsburgh (which basically amts. to “start attending another church.”)

  4. MP,
    my initial reaction was the same as yours, that as much as they might like to, Uruguay should not be allowed to just up and leave their province, however much I think it would be fair play for the Coneheads.
    But then I checked the constitution of the Southern Cone, as did Anonymous, and found they specifically allow it.

    I agree with you on multinational provinces being broken up into national churches. However, I think some, like Uruguay, are too small to be viable without ties to a larger provincial structure. Especially in the case of Zimbabwe, their being part of the Province of Central Africa has at least partly mitigated the damage done by buffoons such as Konunga.

  5. An interesting situation to say the least. I suppose one question for which I do not know the answer is what exactly are the de minimus characteristics of a province?

    England is a country with two provinces. TEC and England both have churches in Europe which are part of their internal structures. It is hard for me to picture an Anglican province of Spain or France.

    I think your solution for Uruguay seems sensible. But I wonder what the devil in the details looks like.


  6. Well technically TEC is made up of 9 provinces and Mexico used to be part of Province IX before we were thrown out with the bathwater … er … I mean achieved autonomy. But provinces within a national or regional church are technically a horse of a different color. And technically TEC is a multi-regional church with dioceses in the US , Latin America and Taiwan.

    I think that regional churches are OK. It allows folks to pool resources who would otherwise be sore pressed to have alone what they achieve together. Not to mention that there are as many regional churches in this hemisphere as there are national churches.

    I think that we should leave how folks organize themselves across national borders to themselves. The issue is the individual dioceses living and abiding the church canons which created them, and other churches respecting the differences and staying out of the internal affairs of another church.

    BTW JimB, there is an autonomous Anglican church in both Spain and Portugal. Neither church has become a province and both look to Canterbury for Metropolitan leadership.

    Just as Cuba is an independent Anglican diocese, but not a province. Its metropolitan leadership is a council made of the primates of ACCanada, TEC and the AC West Indies. In fact the bishop of Uruguay was, until recently, also the bishop of Cuba and was instrumental in the election of two women as bishops in Cuba.

    Little Cuba is more progressive than the Church of England!

  7. Also, Cuba is preparing for the enthronement of the first female Anglican diocesan bishop in Latin America, reportedly on 28 NOV.

    The Rt. Revd Griselda Delgado Del Carpio, bishop coadjutor of Cuba with +Miguel Tamayo, was consecrated last FEB after she was appointed to succeed +Miguel last Fall by the Metropolitan Council.

    I have my suspicions that under +Miguel, Uruguay is more progressive in many areas than the other dioceses of the Southern Cone.

  8. JimB,
    The minimum requirement for a province is 3 dioceses (3 being the number of bishops needed to consecrate more bishops). Hong Kong was the most recent to move from an extra-provincial diocese to being a province, with its division into 3.

    David brings up the example of Cuba, and I think the plan for Cuba within the next 5 to 10 years is to split the diocese to create at least 2 new dioceses (there are currently 2 suffragan bishops) and to make it a new province.