By Kirk Petersen
With boisterous expressions of gratitude and joy, the House of Bishops on Tuesday unanimously welcomed La Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba back into the Episcopal Church, 52 years after the same body unilaterally expelled the church at the height of the Cold War.
“Bishop Griselda may take her seat at Table 7,” declared Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, drawing whoops and cheers from the bishops and the audience.
Technically it was a tad premature to seat the Rt. Rev. Griselda Delgado del Carpio, as the House of Deputies has not yet acted. But the proliferation of people wearing Cuba sí! pins indicates a substantial level of support.
In approving Resolution A238, the bishops bulldozed over concerns that readmission might be impermissible, as there is no canonical mechanism for admitting an extra-provincial diocese from the Anglican Communion.
A parade of bishops offered a variety of justifications for taking the step:
- While the canons spell out a number of circumstances under which a new diocese may be created, they do not explicitly state that those are the only circumstances.
- The 1966 expulsion was an action of the House of Bishops, never ratified by the House of Deputies, and thus Cuba technically never left TEC.
- The dioceses of Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and Venezuela were admitted under the current canons, so Cuba should not pay the price for the church’s newfound canonical fastidiousness.
By the time the bishops finished speaking for the measure in English and Spanish, the outcome was not in doubt — only the margin. After there was no dissent during the voice vote, Curry said, “Let the record show that this house has unanimously voted” to readmit Cuba to the Episcopal Church.
When called to the podium, Delgado thanked the bishops through an interpreter “for the support right now, but really for the support all these years.” On the heels of a lengthy standing ovation, the bishops remained standing throughout her remarks.
Delgado said that through the years, Cuban Episcopalians “lived always with the hope we would return to our family.”
“¡Cuba nunca se fue!” Delgado said. “Cuba never left. It has always been part of the Episcopal Church.”