Cubans hail appointment of woman bishop

CÁRDENAS, CUBA—Members of a Cuban diocesan synod burst into applause and shouts of joy on Sunday when Archbishop Andrew Hutchison announced the appointment of Rev. Canon Nerva Cot Aguilera as one of two new suffragan bishops for the Cuban Anglican Church.

Cuba's two new suffragan bishops -- Archdeacon Ulises Prendes and Nerva Cot Aquilero -- leave St. Francis of Assisi church in Cardenas after the announcement of their appointment. In the background is Bishop elect Aquilera's daughter, Marianela, who was ordained priest the same day. VIANNEY CARRIERE
Cuba’s two new suffragan bishops — Archdeacon Ulises Prendes and Nerva Cot Aquilero — leave St. Francis of Assisi church in Cardenas after the announcement of their appointment. In the background is Bishop elect Aquilera’s daughter, Marianela, who was ordained priest the same day. VIANNEY CARRIERE

She is the wife of Juan Ramon de la Paz Cerezo, Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Havana.

And in a particularly sweet moment, the announcement of her appointment followed a Eucharist during which their daughter, Marianela de la Paz Cot was ordained priest.

Cubans also enthusiastically welcomed the appointment of Archdeacon Ulises Mario Aguiera Prendes as the second new suffragan bishop.

The suffragan bishops were appointed by the Metropolitan Council of Cuba which Archbishop Hutchison chairs, at the request of Bishop Miguel Tamayo, the diocesan bishop. The Council, at this meeting, was made up of Archbishop Hutchison and U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori who was also present for the announcement. The third member of the Metropolitan Council, Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies, did not attend the meeting for health reasons.

Bishop elect Aguilera becomes the first female bishop in the Caribbean.

Seven people were interviewed by the Canadian Primate and U.S. Presiding Bishop before the two successful candidates were selected. The selections were then presented to Bishop Tamayo for his approval before being announced to the synod members.

Archbishop Hutchison told cheering synod members that the Metropolitan Council would reconvene in Havana on June 10 for the consecration of the two new bishops.

The Metropolitan Council has overseen the affairs of the Cuban Episcopal Church since 1967 when the church became a diocese without formal association with any other province of the Anglican Communion. This occurred because of deteriorating relations between post-revolutionary Cuba and the United States.

In recent years, Cuban diocesan synods have found it impossible to agree on a diocesan bishop. The office is currently held by Bishop Tamayo, the bishop of Uruguay, who divides his time between Montevideo and Havana.

The appointment of the two suffragans is seen as part of a process through which Cubans might eventually elect their own bishop.

Vianney (Sam) Carriere is the director of communications for the Anglican Church of Canada.

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