The Anglican House of Bishops of the Province of the Southern Cone of America released a statement breaking formal ties with its neighbors in America, the Episcopal Church USA, for consecrating an openly gay bishop and recognizing same-sex blessings.
This Province now shares only a profoundly impaired communion with ECUSA, the bishops wrote in the statement released Jan. 12.
Impaired communion means that we cannot share fellowship, ministry, Eucharist or gifts with those who have affirmed or participated in the consecration of Gene Robinson, nor with those who perform or permit blessings of same-sex unions outside historic Christian marriage, nor with any clergy who are sexually active outside marriage, they said.
The bishops added a hope that the ECUSA will come to its senses, repent and turn back from its schismatic actions.
The Southern Cone of America, representing Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay, follows in the footsteps of 9 of the 38 international provinces that have broken ties with the ECUSA since November 2003.
The following is the full statement released by the House of Bishops:
In the Name of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The recent unilateral actions of the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA) in consecrating a bishop who is sexually active outside marriage, and the recognition of same-sex blessings have created a deeply painful and divisive situation and has devastated our Christian witness. In the light of Tradition, it reveals a misinterpretation of the clear witness of God's Word and a deaf ear to the heartfelt pleas of the entire Communion. When the economically powerful church in America acts, it attracts worldwide attention; and despite repeated warnings, ECUSA's leaders have shown selfish indifference to the difficulties and confusion their actions have now brought this and other provinces.
Their action is a clear departure from the moral teaching, practice and common understanding of the Anglican Communion, clearly expressed by the Lambeth Conference of 1998. Following the example of Jesus we are open to all people, but we reject as sin those acts which separate us from God and from each other. ECUSA's action has forced painful division in the Communion and is a schism of their own making. Because by its precipitous action it has fomented needless division and denied the Tradition of the Church catholic, we believe that ECUSA cannot represent the Anglican Communion in any legitimate or moral sense.
As a consequence, this Province now shares only a profoundly impaired communion with ECUSA and, in faithfulness to the Word of God, we cannot accept this consecration as a valid one. Impaired communion means that we cannot share fellowship, ministry, Eucharist or gifts with those who have affirmed or participated in the consecration of Gene Robinson, nor with those who perform or permit blessings of same-sex unions outside historic Christian marriage, nor with any clergy who are sexually active outside marriage.
We give thanks to God for the bishops, clergy and laity of ECUSA who have stood firm against these unacceptable acts. We remain in full fellowship, ministry and Eucharistic celebration with them. At the same time we are deeply concerned about increasing reports of pressure and persecution against those who hold fast to the Scriptures and the historic faith through retributive applications of canonical and secular legal procedures. Missionaries desiring to serve in our Province must reject the erroneous decisions of ECUSA and must affirm traditional scriptural norms.
It is our hope and earnest prayer that ECUSA will come to its senses, repent and turn back from its schismatic actions; but without renouncing their present position there is little hope of it. As a Province we believe institutional unity is meaningless unless it is based in the truth of the Holy Scriptures.
May God have compassion on His church.