Monday, May 25, 2015


On May 20, 2015, Bishop Hector Zavala (Bishop of Chile and primate of the Anglican Church of South America) visited the independent diocese of South Carolina to assure the followers of Mark Lawrence they are "part" of the Anglican Communion. On May 22, the diocese issued a news release quoting Zavala: "I'm here with you with the consent of the Archbishop of Canterbury." The release went on: "The Archbishop of Canterbury was with the Global South Primates 'Steering Committee' in a meeting in Cairo, Egypt in 2014 when 'we decided to establish a Primatial Oversight Council to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to some dioceses in order to keep them within the Anglican Communion' said Zavala."

The above remarks may imply that the Archbishop of Canterbury approved of Zavala's visit to South Carolina and supported the Global South primatial oversight scheme established in 2014.

I contacted Lambeth Palace, the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to get their response to Zavala's remarks. The press office of Lambeth Palace replied today and gave me permission to publish their statement:

A Lambeth Palace spokesman said: "The Global South Primates Steering Committee announced in 2014 the establishment of Primatial Oversight for the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, which had seceded from the Episcopal Church, in order to keep the diocese within the Anglican Communion. The steering committee informed Archbishop Justin of their decision when he joined them for the final day of their meeting in Cairo.

"Archbishop Justin has since had discussions about how the arrangements will work, exploring the exercising of pastoral, not episcopal oversight by Bishop Zavala. Archbishop Justin has discussed these developments with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori."

The operative phrase here is: "pastoral, not episcopal oversight by Bishop Zavala."

Thus the Archbishop's office has clarified several points:

1-The DSC claim that the Archbishop of Canterbury was "with" the Global South primates' steering committee when they decided to make the oversight scheme is not true. In fact, the Archbishop arrived only for the end of the meeting (Feb. 15, 2014; Cairo) and was presented a fait accompli of a primatial oversight scheme that had already been drawn up by the primates.

We already knew that the Archbishop neither signed this primatial scheme (released on Feb. 20, 2014) nor ever publicly endorsed it.

2-The Archbishop has not approved of any primatial oversight scheme.

3-The Archbishop encouraged "pastoral" oversight only and did so while informing the Episcopal Church's primate.

4-There is no evidence that the Archbishop "consented" to Zavala's visit to South Carolina. Zavala did not define what he meant by the word "consent."

In fact, the Archbishop of Canterbury approved of "pastoral" not primatial oversight for the Diocese of South Carolina. What is the difference between the two? A great deal as it turns out.

Pastoral oversight would be an informal arrangement of friendship and communication of one body with another. In fact, anyone is free to offer pastoral care to the independent diocese. It should come as no surprise that the titular head of the Anglican Communion should strive for healing, reconciliation, and peace in his far flung and loosely organized Communion. He would be remiss in his duties if he did not encourage pastoral care.

Primatial oversight is something else completely. This would be a formal arrangement wherein a primate of the Anglican Communion would exercise episcopal authority over an entity such as a diocese beyond the established range of his or her province.

If Bishop Zavala and the Diocese of South Carolina meant to imply that the Archbishop of Canterbury had approved their scheme to set up a primatial oversight arrangement whereby the Global South primates would exercise episcopal authority over the Diocese of South Carolina, they were wrong.

Lambeth Palace has cleared up the confusion.

Bottom line:  the Archbishop of Canterbury has not approved a primatial oversight scheme for the secessionist Diocese of South Carolina.

Nothing has changed. The independent Diocese of South Carolina is not "part" of the Anglican Communion in any official way.

NOTE:     On May 21, I sent an enquiry on the "Contact" form provided by the website of Lambeth Palace ( asking for a response to Bishop Zavala's claims made in South Carolina on May 20 that the Archbishop of Canterbury had met with the Global South primates and had agreed to GS's oversight of the Diocese of South Carolina.

On May 25, I received by email a response from "Ed Thornton, Senior Press Officer to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace." I have given the exact text above. Before the text: "Dear Professor Caldwell, Thank you for your enquiry about Bishop Zavala and the Diocese of South Carolina. My apologies for the delay in responding to you. Please find below a statement which I hope is of help."

After receiving this, on May 25, I sent a response e-mail to Mr. Thornton asking if I had his permission to publish his e-mail. He returned an e-mail to me: "Please feel free to publish the statement I sent you."

Anyone is free to contact Lambeth Palace using either the "Contact" form given above or their e-mail: They also list their telephone number and street address on the Contact form.

2nd ed---
CORRECTION:     I said above "In fact, the Archbishop of Canterbury approved of 'pastoral' not primatial oversight." This should be corrected. Actually, the Archbishop has not "approved" of any oversight scheme, pastoral or otherwise. If one reads carefully the words of the statement from Lambeth Palace, one sees the Archbishop has only had "discussions" about "exploring" pastoral care. It is also clear the Archbishop is decidedly opposed to foreign episcopal oversight for South Carolina.

Lambeth's statement of May 25 is a defeat for those advocating alternate primatial oversight in the Anglican Communion, not just for South Carolina.