Pollesel election in Uruguay ratified

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Diocese of Uruguay Bishop-elect Michael Pollesel (right) at an Episcopal diocese of Cuba service in 2011. Behind him are Anglican Church of Canada primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, and Diocese of Cuba bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio.  ANDREA MANN/GENERAL SYNOD COMMUNICATIONS

Diocese of Uruguay Bishop-elect Michael Pollesel (right) at an Episcopal diocese of Cuba service in 2011. Behind him are Anglican Church of Canada primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, and Diocese of Cuba bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio. ANDREA MANN/GENERAL SYNOD COMMUNICATIONS

The Anglican Province of the Southern Cone has reconsidered the diocese of Uruguay’s appeal and has voted to ratify the election of Archdeacon Michael Pollesel as co-adjutor bishop.

The decision came 10 months after the province’s house of bishops rejected Pollesel’s election. The Uruguayan diocesan synod had appealed the decision, but “for technical canonical reasons the form of the original appeal was not valid” and had to be presented again, said Southern Cone Presiding Bishop Hector Zavala in a press release.

The Southern Cone house of bishops and provincial executive council, “with joy and thankfulness to God,” ratified Pollesel’s election after new consideration of the appeal and the presentation of new background material, Zavala said.

Pollesel described the development as “terrific news to receive as we prepare for Easter.” Last week he had written to diocesan clergy, asking them “to write something about any signs of new life they were seeing/experiencing in their parishes,” Pollesel said in an email interview with Anglican Journal. “This news is an obvious sign of new life for this diocese and it comes at just the right time.”

He credited last January’s visit and subsequent report by Canon Kenneth Kearon, Anglican Communion general secretary, as having allowed the diocese and the province to “find a way out of being stuck.” Zavala decided to invite a small delegation from the diocese to attend part of the Southern Cone’s house of bishops meeting, a recommendation in the Kearon report.

“At the face-to-face meeting I believe we were able to bring down some defensive walls that had been built and also build some bridges of understanding and reconciliation,” said Pollesel. “We’re not there yet. But we’re certainly moving in a good direction.”

Pollesel said he had known that the new appeal was in the works for the past few weeks,  and so he has had a “mixed” reaction to the news. “From that perspective, I no longer have to keep things ‘contained’ and to myself,” he said. During the long months of waiting, “I often thought that I could simply walk away from it all,” he added. “Now, I can no longer do that.”

No details have emerged as to why Pollesel’s election was initially rejected.

While he awaited the decision, Pollesel had been acting as vicar general of the diocese. As bishop, he will have “more of a pastoral role with lay folk and clergy,” he said.

As the diocese prepares to welcome him as its new bishop, it will also say goodbye to retiring bishop Miguel de Tamayo, “a faithful pastor who has been here as a priest and bishop for almost two decades,” said Pollesel.

It will also mean “taking a long, hard look at what God’s dream is for us here and now,” he added. “That’s going to be a real challenge, because we are so incredibly stretched.” All clergy of the diocese have a full-time job “to keep their families fed,” and what ministry they perform in their parishes is outside of their regular jobs, he said. “It’s going to require some honest appraisal of just what resources we have, and how we can best use those resources.”

The Province of the Southern Cone includes dioceses in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

The diocese of Uruguay is made up of seven parishes and five missions. Its congregation is predominantly Spanish-speaking, but it also has an English-speaking ministry. Many members of the congregation are the descendants of Europeans who settled in Uruguay during the 19th century.

Pollesel will be consecrated in Montevideo on May 26, feast day of St. Augustine of Canterbury, which coincides this year with Trinity Sunday, Zavala added.

Pollesel, who was formerly the general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, was elected to the position by the Uruguay synod in December 2011.

Pollesel resigned as general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada in 2011 and later became interim priest-in-charge at Toronto’s St. Nicholas Church, Birch Cliff. He speaks fluent Spanish and was actively engaged in supporting the Episcopal Church of Cuba during his time as general secretary.

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