Ratification of Canadian bishop for Uruguay fails

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Archdeacon Michael Pollesel with Archbishop Fred Hiltz during a 2011 trip to the Episcopal diocese of Cuba.

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone has voted not to ratify the election of Archdeacon Michael Pollesel as bishop co-adjutor of the diocese of Uruguay.

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

No details have emerged as to why Pollesel’s election was rejected, and in an interview, he said he is still waiting for official notification and has no details himself. Pollesel learned of the reversal from the retiring bishop of Uruguay, Miguel Tamayo Zaldivar.

“I was disappointed,” Pollesel told the Anglican Journal. “It’s been a long wait.” Tomayo told him that the Uruguay diocesan council will be convened next week to decide whether or not the diocese will appeal the decision.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, shared the news about the failed ratification to members of the Council of General Synod, currently meeting in Mississauga May 24 to 27. He also sent an email to the Canadian House of Bishops.

The non-ratification “leaves Michael in an awkward space right now,” Hiltz told CoGS, adding that it was “puzzling” that no reason has been given for the non-ratification. He urged CoGS members to keep Pollesel and the diocese of Uruguay in their prayers.

“This is going to be an upsetting time for that diocese,” said Hiltz, noting that on some issues, the diocese of Uruguay has been at odds with the rest of the Southern Cone province. In 2010, the diocese of Uruguay explored the possibility of realigning with another province. The diocese of Uruguay, which currently has female deacons, wants to move ahead with the ordination of women, while the rest of the dioceses in the province are against it.

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 resigned as general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada last year 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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Marites N. Sison
Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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