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LIMA, PERU: Reverse Ordinariate set up to receive Catholic Bishop

LIMA, PERU: Reverse Ordinariate set up to receive Catholic Bishop and Three Priests into Anglican Diocese

By David W. Virtue in Lima
January 16, 2012

On February 19, 2012 Bishop Oscar Rojas Quinto and three of his clergy will be received as priests into the Anglican Church of Peru, along with their congregations from Huancayo in the mountains of central Peru.

These former Roman Catholics have been in conversation and prayer for over a year following the request of Bishop Oscar to be received as Anglicans and become part of the Anglican Diocese of Peru.

Bishop Harold William Godfrey, who heads the Diocese of Peru, called it a "reverse Ordinariate." The word Ordinariate was taken from Pope Benedict XIV's initiative to give Anglican clergy and congregations a way to maintain some of their traditions while becoming Roman Catholics.

The Peruvian initiative is different. For ex Anglicans joining the Roman Church, the Ordinariate is a destination in which the clergy are re-ordained as Roman Catholic clergy because Rome does not recognize Anglican orders.

This proposal has provided a place where the move can be formally considered by both sides. Upon mutual agreements, the clergy will be received as Anglicans without the need for re-ordination since Anglicans recognize ordination in apostolic succession. Once received, the bishop and their clergy are fully part of the Anglican Diocese and their participation in the Ordinariate is over. Clergy from churches not in apostolic succession have to be re-ordained.

This first group is ex Roman Catholics. As a community of former Roman Catholics, they have suffered from persecution and prejudice. They have been accused of being "false priests"; their services have been broken up and legal action threatened, said the Rev. Ian Montgomery, Canon to the Ordinary.

"These are brave men and women who have endured much for the sake of the Gospel. It is an honor to count them a part of the Anglican family. The Anglican community in Peru has many clergy from other traditions. We are too young to have many who have grown up through our ranks. The clergy from evangelical traditions outnumber those from Roman traditions two to one. We welcome into the Ordinariate those from evangelical traditions. There are more who are in the process of conversation." Montgomery said this can not be rushed as the decision is a mutual one freely entered into after much prayer."

The Huancayo region comes under the oversight of Bishop Michael Chapman who oversees the diocese-in-formation of South Central Peru and is based in Ica. Bishop Oscar, while becoming an Anglican priest, will still be honored as a bishop, albeit without the ability to confirm or ordain. He will still be ecclesiastically involved in overseeing his congregations in the Huancayo region.

The Anglican Church in Peru has existed since 1849. Until the 1990s, it was largely an English Protestant Chaplaincy, working mostly with expatriates. Under Bishop Godfrey, who came in 1998, it has grown from four to about forty clergy and from about five to over fifty worshiping communities. We now have two bishops, a seminary, and are a dominantly Peruvian Church working mostly among the poor in shanty towns and rural villages and cities. They are developing their own liturgies as part of the development of a Peruvian Anglican Prayer Book.

"We hold to the three dominant spiritual strands of Anglicanism - Catholic, Evangelical and Charismatic. Our mission strategy seeks to transform individuals and communities both spiritually and economically," said Montgomery.

"The Southern Cone Province anticipates a new development with the division into two new provinces of the Anglican Communion. One will be on the Pacific side and the other on the Atlantic side.

"We count this as a mark of God's favor that the churches of the Southern Cone are multiplying and that we are able to envision such a provincial development subject to the approval of the Anglican Consultative Council who will be petitioned in October of this year to allow for this development.

"For too long the Anglican world has not heard much from South America as we are geographically and linguistically isolated. God is at work here and it is thrilling to be a part of His Kingdom building process," added Montgomery.

The diocese currently has 35 clerics, an increase from just four in the late 1990s. It has two seminaries in Lima and Arequipa.


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