THE CASE HISTORY
The Diocese of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA) elected the Rt Revd Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor by a legal canonical process according to the law and constitutions of ECUSA. The aforementioned canonical legislation stipulates that to be consecrated as a bishop, it is required that the majority of diocesan bishops and their respective diocesan committees give their consent. When there is a diocesan convention near the election, the procedure dictates that the consent of the deputies of both houses be obtained. The Rt Revd Gene Robinson received the required consent in the General Convention held in Minneapolis in 2003, and then was consecrated Bishop on 2 November of the same year.
This election, consent and consecration would have been one more act in the long line of apostolic succession in the Episcopal Church had if not been for the fact that the Rt Revd Gene Robinson is a declared homosexual that cohabits with another man in a relationship that is no secret, rather openly known and tolerated in the Diocese of New Hampshire and the rest of the Episcopal Church in the United States. This situation that has just been described, provoked very strong reactions on the part of conservative sectors in the Episcopal Church and in the rest of the Worldwide Anglican Communion, who have seen in this action of the American Church a deviation from sound Biblical doctrine and theological orthodoxy. These worldwide, conservatively theological sectors have expressed their rejection of this action and a number of affiliates have threatened to break off relations with the Communion. Others have declared to be in a situation of impairment (grave deterioration in an existing relationship) and still others in a definitive statement have declared themselves to be no longer in communion with the American Church nor with the Bishops that participated in the consecration of Gene Robinson.
The consecration of Gene Robinson has become even more dramatic if we take into account that beforehand, the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Rowan Williams, summoned all of the Anglican Primates, to the end of considering this particular case, trying to avoid inevitable confrontation and schism. As a result of the Primates’ meeting, a declaration was emitted, exhorting that a moratorium be observed on the part of ECUSA concerning the consecration of Gene Robinson, and announce the naming of a special commission that would search for a workable solution to the dilemma. Unfortunately, ECUSA proceeded in a unilateral manner, ignoring the petitions made by the Primates.
Before the participation of the Anglican Primate of IARCA (Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central America), the Most Revd Martín Barahona, in the emergency meeting summoned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the bishops of the province were consulted as to their opinions and criterion on the subject, which were thoughtfully and carefully prepared and presented for consideration. As a result of that consultation, the office of the Primate of IARCA issued a declaration that, among other things, left the following points very clear:
That the decision of ECUSA would be respected
That the Central American Province was concerned about the tension that was being experienced in the Communion on account of the ECUSA decision and the aspiration to find space for dialog
That reactions among the Central American Bishops were varied
The recognition that in Central American culture, the action of ordaining a known, confessed and active homosexual to the Episcopate would be considered a clear breech of congruence with the Holy Scripture
The recognition that the Province as a whole was not prepared to cope with such a complex matter that has not yet been amply discussed with the biblical, theological and sociological seriousness that our faith community demands
It was a truly disagreeable surprise for the Episcopal Church of Guatemala to learn through the magazine ANGLICANOS and from information found in the pages of Internet Anglicans, that the Primate of IARCA, the Most Revd Martin Barahona, participated in the ceremony of consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, thus fixing the position of the Province concerning matters that have not been properly meditated, discussed and approved by the Central American Region of which Guatemala forms a part. We consider that this action does not reflect a complete opinion of the Anglican Church in Central America and in particular, the Episcopal Church of Guatemala.
Therefore, by virtue of the previously mentioned facts, the Episcopal Church of Guatemala respectfully, but firmly and solemnly declares that:
She maintains the fervent conviction to uphold the ecclesiastic unity of the Iglesia Anglicana de la Región Central de América The Episcopal Church of Guatemala hereby disassociates herself from the action of the Primate of IARCA, specifically in his participation in the consecration of Gene Robinson, recognizing that such a wanton act willfully causes a certain degree of IMPAIRMENT within IARCA There exists among the Bishops, Provincial Council and the Anglican Church de la Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America in general, necessity to pronounce authoritatively on the subject, (the participation and its implications) and to take the corresponding corrective measures Guatemala, January 19, in the year of Our Lord, 2004.
The Revd Roberto Armas
President, Diocesan Council
Prof Nora de Zea
President, Commission on Ministry
The Ven Lucas Choc
Archdeacon, Western Region
The Ven Obdulio Pineda
Archdeacon Northeastern Region
The Rt Revd Armando Guerra