Racism accusations hurled in GC's first fracas

 

Racism accusations hurled in GC's first fracas

Author: 

George Conger

A dispute has arisen over whether a deputy from the Diocese of Honduras was silenced by a Spanish-language translator for voicing the belief that same-sex marriage was contrary to God’s word.

At hearings held on 5 July 2018 on proposals to revise the Book of Common Prayer a deputy from the Diocese of Honduras sought to speak against the innovation. The Hispanic caucus at the 79th General Convention reports that the translator who was assisting the deputy “walked away” from him when he began to voice opposition to same-sex marriage. A complaint has been filed by members of the Hispanic caucus at Convention denouncing the silencing of non-English speaking voices in the debate on same-sex marriage.

The clash of Hispanic and Anglo-cultures over gay marriage was raised at the evenings press conference, when a reporter asked whether the Diocese of Cuba, which had rejoined the Episcopal Church at this convention, would be obliged to accept gay marriage. The questioner went on to note the Dioceses of Province IX were opposed to the move.

The Very Rev. Samuel Candler, Dean of Atlanta and chairman of Committee 13 told the reporter that supporters of prayer book reform believed the right to marry trumped the right of theological conscience. Dean Candler explained that prayer book revision “doesn’t deny anybody their beliefs.” He went on to say that some on the committee believed the church “shouldn’t deny anybody’s rights for marriage.”

In his video recap of the events of the second day, the Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. Gregory O. Brewer shared with his diocese the concerns of the Hispanic Caucus that they were being shut out of the debate. Bishop Brewer stated the Bishop of Honduras, the Rt. Rev. Lloyd Allen, rose to say that he was ready to be deposed over these issues.

Convention press officer Nancy Davidge told Anglican Ink that there appeared to be a misunderstanding. She said Juan Cabrero Oliver, the custodian of the Book of Common Prayer, was pressed into service as a translator during the committee hearing as there was no Spanish-language translator present. Mr. Oliver then was asked to translate by one of the Honduran deputies. He responded that he was afraid he would not be a fair translator. Ms. Davidge said Mr. Oliver told her that he was “not sure I can be objective.” However, the convention spokesman went on to say “Juan did translate for them.”

Suggestions have been raised the Honduran deputation was prepared to withdraw from the Convention in protest. During the afternoon session in the House of Bishops on 6 July 2016, Bishop Allen rose to object to what he saw as the Convention's hypocrisy. Discussions of racial recociliation were all well and good, but they were not practiced by Convention. There was a "lot of wording and nothing of truth in it.”

Province IX was being made to feel a stepchild of convention and its concerns brushed aside. Unless these questions were addressed forthwith he was ready to withdraw his deputation from convention.

Concerns over the second class status of Hispanic Episcopalians was voiced by Bishop Brewer. In his video address to Central Florida -- a long-time partner in mission with Honduras -- Bishop Brewer stated he was surprised to find that racism remained a live issue in the management of General Convention in 2018.

As of our going to press, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is meeting privately with Bishop Allen. No statement has been released by the at this time.

At the 1997 General Convention in Philadelphia, a similar incident brought proceedings in both Houses to a stop, and elicited fulsome apologies from the newly elected Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and President of the House of Deputies Pam Chinnis. A deputy from Fort Worth sprinkled salt around the tables of the Newark and Fort Worth deputations. Deputy Louie Crew of Newark objected, protesting that this was an attempt to exorcise him of the demon of homosexuality. The deputy who sprinkled salt -- now a priest of the ACNA, denied this was his intention -- but the Convention moved quickly against. No such action has taken place in response to the Hondurans’ complaints of racism and bigotry.

 
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