Saturday, May 16, 2015


On May 20, DSC will host a visit by the Most Rev. Hector ("Tito") Zavala, Bishop of Chile and Primate of the Anglican Church of South America, one of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. According to the DSC press release, he will be in SC "specifically to encourage and support fellow Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, and the clergy and lay people of the Diocese of South Carolina." Actually, no "specifics" were given as to how he was to encourage and support. His visit is supposedly part of the discernment process for deciding on diocesan affiliation although exactly how was not given. The whole affiliation issue remains a mystery.

Zavala is a close ally of Lawrence. As a member of the Global South Primates Steering Committee, he was one of the seven Anglican primates who rushed a letter of support to Lawrence on December 14, 2012 ("We recognize your Episcopal orders and your legitimate Episcopal oversight of the Diocese of South Carolina within the Anglican Communion."), just nine days after the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church had accepted Lawrence's renunciation of his Holy Orders and had released and removed Lawrence from the office of bishop. These seven primates directly rejected the authority of a fellow Anglican primate in her own province.

Zavala was elected primate in 2010 to replace the Argentinian bishop Gregory Venables in what used to be called the Province of the Southern Cone. The Anglican Church in South America is one of the largest in geography and smallest in membership in the Anglican Communion. It has 25,000 members in an area of 110,000,000 people (2 people in a thousand). It includes Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Zavala is the first person of Hispanic heritage to be the primate of this Anglican province.

Even before GAFCON, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, and Global South, the Province of the Southern Cone was aggressively active in opposing the Episcopal Church. In 2007 and 2008, it took in the four secessionist groups that left the Episcopal Church: San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Ft. Worth, and Quincy, and declared them dioceses of the province of the Southern Cone. This was in direct disregard of the Windsor Report that had called for a moratorium on cross-border interventions and of the established policies and practices of the historic Anglican Communion, a loose confederation of 38 independent churches around the world separated geographically. When the Anglican Church in North America began in 2009, the four dioceses left the Southern Cone for it even though ACNA was not, and still is not, in the Anglican Communion.

Following the episode of the four dioceses, in 2010, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion removed Bishop Zavala as a member of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith, and Order. Obviously, unity and order had not been high on the Southern Cone's agenda.

On February 27, 2010, there occurred in central Chile the sixth strongest earthquake ever recorded, an 8.8. It and the resulting tsunami left the region devastated. More than a million homes were destroyed or damaged. 525 people were killed. The cost of the damage ranged between 4 and 7 billion dollars.

In a telephone conversation with Episcopal News Service on March 22, 2010, soon after the earthquake, Zavala said he was overwhelmed by the generous response from Anglicans everywhere: "It is good that our ideological differences can be put aside when we are concerned with helping others."  (  )

However, Zavala showed a far different attitude in an interview with The Living Church in 2013: "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." ( ). Thus, as it turned out, Zavala himself had not put "ideological differences" aside as he coldly turned away desperately needed aid dollars only because they were offered by the Episcopal Church.

The Anglican Church of South America is one of the most conservative parts of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Early on, it cut off communion with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada because of their policies of inclusion for homosexual persons. As for equal rights for women, it is among the nine provinces of the AC that do not allow women to be ordained to the priesthood although it does allow women as deacons.

Unfortunately, I cannot be present for the meet-and-greets on May 20, but I do have a few questions I think are pertinent to ask of Bishop Zavala:

1. If asked, would your province, Anglican Church of South America, accept DSC as a diocese?

2. As a member of the Global South "oversight" primates committee, please explain exactly how the "oversight" works? What are the details of the relationship of DSC and Global South? Could this become a permanent relationship?

3. You are on record as saying it was good to set aside ideological differences in the aftermath of the terrible 2010 earthquake in Chile, yet you are also on record as refusing money from TEC because of ideological differences. How do you explain this contradiction?

4. How much money did you refuse from TEC? How much from the Anglican Church of Canada? What other Anglican provinces did you refuse when they offered help? From which Anglican provinces did you accept aid? How much money did you receive?

5. Your province, ACSA, allows ordination of women as deacons but not as priests. How can you justify the one and not the other? How many women deacons are in ACSC?

6. Episcopal dissidents believe liberal religion leads to decline and conservative leads to growth in membership. Your province is quite conservative yet also very small in numbers. What keeps the ACSA from becoming a major denomination in your region?

7. Your province broke communion with the Episcopal Church a decade ago. How can the Anglican Communion function if each province is free to choose which other provinces it will recognize as "in communion"? Is not being "in communion" the whole idea of the Anglican "Communion"? 

8. What would be required for your province to restore communion with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada?

9. What has been your relationship with the Anglican Standing Commission on Unity since you were removed from it?

10. What do you see as your purpose in being here today?

11. Your are now standing in the Anglican Communion province of the Episcopal Church. Did you ask permission of your fellow primate, the Presiding Bishop of TEC, to be here? Did you inform the Presiding Bishop you would be in her province?

12. Will you participate in official Anglican Communion meetings if the primate of the Episcopal Church is present? Will you take communion alongside the primate of TEC? What is your opinion of primates boycotting meetings that include the TEC primate and avoiding communion with the primate of TEC?

13. You have been quoted as saying TEC is not "true Anglican." Exactly what is a true Anglican?

14. Mark Lawrence renounced his membership in TEC in October of 2012. In December of 2012, the Presiding Bishop and primate of the Anglican Communion province of TEC accepted his renunciation of Holy Orders and officially removed Lawrence as an Episcopal, and therefore Anglican Communion, bishop. You were one of those primates who directly rejected this official action of a fellow Anglican primate, in her own province. Why did you do this? How would you feel if the TEC primate had done this to you in your province?

15. GAFCON and Global South have in effect rejected the validity of the "Instruments of Unity" that preside over the Anglican Communion. They have split the AC into two widely differing factions. What is the difference between this and schism?

16. When the Archbishop of Canterbury visited you recently, what did you tell him about the future of the Anglican Communion? Do you support having a Lambeth Conference in 2018? Would you attend?

17. What do you see as the future of the Anglican Communion?

18. How is your presence in South Carolina today promoting a better future for the Anglican Communion?

Bishop Zavala, have a pleasant stay in charming old South Carolina, one of the most beautiful, hospitable, and inviting places in the world. You may have broken communion with the Episcopal Church, but it has not broken communion with you. I am sure we can all agree that the Anglican Communion should survive and thrive, but in order for that to happen we have to accept the very Anglican principle of toleration and respect for widely differing views. And on that, I hope we can all agree too.