Presiding Bishop releases letter about the Diocese of Haiti

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Office of the Presiding Bishop announced Dec. 1 that it was releasing a letter from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to the Rt. Rev. Zache Duracin, the Rt. Rev. Oge Beauviour and the Rev. Dr. Kesner Ajax, president of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Haiti. The letter follows.


Dear Bishop Duracin, Bishop Beauvoir, Dr. Ajax:

I greet you in Jesus Christ with the apostolic words of St. Paul:

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see,
everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through
Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

As baptized disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Episcopal Church we have been
summoned into being by him, to proclaim and to share his Gospel, to make disciples of
all nations, and to be instruments of God’s reconciliation and healing for the hurts of the world.

I write now in a context in which there is hurt and brokenness in the church, the body of
Christ. We are all a part of Christ’s body. The hurt and brokenness affects us all, and I
include myself, as your Presiding Bishop, in that company. As St. Paul said in the epistle
to the Romans, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But he goes on to say
in Romans that where sin and brokenness increase, the grace of God in the Jesus Christ
abounds all the more. God’s grace is greater and God’s Spirit is stronger than our deepest
hurts and most profound wounds. So now let us fall on our knees before the Lord and call
on that Grace, that Spirit, that power to help, to heal, to restore and renew, to save and to
set us free!

The task before us now is to work together in the Holy Spirit to attain the greatest degree
of healing and reconciliation that is possible in the Diocese of Haiti and our wider Episcopal Church. And this we do not for our sake alone, but for the sake of the people of
Haiti, the ministry of the Diocese of Haiti, the wider Episcopal Church, and the very integrity of our witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ itself.

All that I say in what follows is with that goal in mind — to work toward the greatest degree of healing and reconciliation possible. There may be aspects in what I say below
that some will disagree with. I accept that. But acknowledging that, it is important to
remember that the goal is greater than all else. So, I am asking us all to commit ourselves
to the goal of working toward the highest and greatest degree of healing and
reconciliation possible! For God has entrusted us with the ministry of reconciliation, not
only in the world, but in the church.

In numerous statements and conversations since I became Presiding Bishop, and more
recently when I was meeting in Haiti with Bishop Duracin and the Standing Committee
of your diocese in late August, I have stressed what may be obvious to some but bears
repeating again and again: that the troubles that have faced and continue to face the
Diocese of Haiti are of grave concern, not only to me and other bishops, but to countless
others throughout the Church who have had and continue to have a strong interest in
helping the Diocese do its crucial ministry. And so, it is troubling that on top of the
burdens placed upon the Diocese from natural and economic forces, serious divisions
have arisen in the Diocese – divisions between the two bishops and divisions among the
clergy and, undoubtedly, the laity.

Sadly, as we discussed in Haiti, some of those divisions have led to the pending
disciplinary proceeding under Title IV of the canons against the Bishop Diocesan, largely
stimulated by allegations made by the Bishop Suffragan. Since our meeting, it has
become even clearer that this proceeding will continue to move toward an unflattering
public trial within the next few months — with painful allegations by both bishops against
each other and testimony by clergy of the Diocese as witnesses on both sides — unless a
way can be found to resolve it amicably. Moreover, since our meeting, divisions among
the lay and clerical leadership of the Diocese embodied in both the Bishop Diocesan and
the Standing Committee, on the one hand, and the Bishop Suffragan, on the other, have
led to the recent filing by the Standing Committee of the petition under Title III of the
Church’s canons requesting that I begin the canonical process by which the pastoral
relation between the Diocese and the Bishop Suffragan may now be involuntarily
dissolved.

I believe that my responsibilities as Presiding Bishop, both pastoral and canonical, direct
me to exert every reasonable effort to find ways to make substantial progress in healing
these divisions before further damage is done to the Diocese and the larger Church. As
the most pressing and immediate challenge, I believe that all concerned must work
together toward a prompt, amicable and pastorally acceptable resolution of both the
foregoing canonical proceedings.

This effort now seems to me to be all the more crucial in the light of the fact that the
Bishop Diocesan will be retiring within the next few years and, indeed, since our
meeting, has called for the election of a Bishop Coadjutor. How important it is that that
election be conducted by a diocese that is healthy and generous of spirit cannot be
overstated.

At the Haiti meeting discussed above, I promised to help develop and implement two
processes in the furtherance of reconciliation and restoration of the health of the Diocese.
The first was to appoint representatives of DFMS to work with representatives of the
Diocese in creating a new “memorandum of understanding” relating to the joint efforts of
the Diocese and the DFMS in future development projects, with a focus on joint decision making and sound and responsible financial practices. I am pleased that, with good-faith efforts on the part of representatives of both the Diocese and the DFMS, agreement on
such a memorandum was quickly reached and is now being implemented. That is a
significant accomplishment that creates the basis for equal partnership in mission, for the
sake of the Gospel and the people of Haiti. Thank you to all who worked to achieve this.

The second was to develop a process for new conversations that would focus directly and
specifically on the divisions among the bishops and the Standing Committee and
divisions among the clergy. After giving this matter considerable thought and prayer, I
have determined to appoint a three-person panel to assist me in a series of in-depth
conversations with the bishops and clerical and lay leaders of the Diocese in the weeks
and months ahead. All three persons whom I have selected, and who have agreed to
serve, have had substantial personal experience with the Diocese and are persons in
whom I place considerable trust. They are the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, the Bishop of
Maine, whose diocese, as you know, has for some years had a partner relationship with
Haiti; The Rev. P. Roger Bowen, a former Headmaster of Episcopal schools who, as you
also know, has fostered partner relationships of countless schools in Haiti with Church
schools and parishes in our other dioceses; and Paul B. Nix, Jr., Esquire, In-house
Counsel for the DFMS in New York, who has worked persistently on specific
development projects in Haiti, including the design and legal issues relating to the
projected construction of a new Cathedral, as well as on the memorandum of
understanding referred to above.

As I told Bishops Duracin and Beauvoir by telephone last week, I have asked this panel
to begin its efforts with discussions with each of the bishops separately in the Church
Headquarters in New York by the end of this month. I shall ask the panel to arrange a
meeting with members of the Standing Committee promptly thereafter. After the
members of the panel have then met with me to reflect upon the issues raised by these
discussions, I shall design the next phase of this process.

I am appreciative of and encouraged by the fact that in my recent conversations with
both of my brother bishops each assured me that he wished to work toward
reconciliation. I thank them and thank God for that willingness.

Pursuant to my canonical responsibilities referred to above and my defined role as Chief
Pastor, I am asking all involved to give this process all strength of effort and good will.
Ultimately, however, I ask this of us all, in obedience to our Lord who has, as St. Paul
said, entrusted us with God’s ministry of reconciliation.

Allow me to offer the prayer of St. Francis.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where
there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where
there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant
that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to
understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning
that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Your brother in Christ,
The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church

Comments

  1. Anthony Price says:

    It is sad to learn about divisions within the episcopate of Haiti. I remember Bp Duracin many years ago as a committed leader and pastor. I do not know Bp Beauvoir, but certainly when he was elected suffragan bishop there must have been harmony on all sides. Presiding Bishop Curry does not mention what the dispute is all about, but perhaps one could guess, given other ruptures within the Episcopal Church which for the most part seem to be healing themselves. Let us pray for reconciliation in Haiti too, where all available energies are still need for rebuilding after that devastating earthquake that took so many lives.
    And just an editorial comment: the acronym DFMS – the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (of the Episcopal Church USA), if I remember rightly – may not be known to many readers nowadays in the world of TEC. It might be worthwhile explaining whatever subtle distinction there is today, if any.

  2. I do not know the nature of this conflict, so make no comment re it. But I have been privileged to work with Bishop Oge Beauvoir over many years, principally through ANITEPAM, the African Anglican theological education network, and especially as a consultant re ministerial formation after the genocide in Rwanda. I have deep affection for him and for his ministry. I do hope this painful time may lead to true reconciliation.

  3. Norly GERMAIN says:

    That’s unfortunate the hereditary power-hunger that exist in the political environment in Haiti has spread into the church of God. I was an acolyte since I was 8 years old and after high school I did address to the diocese of Haiti my willingness to enter the seminar. Finally I gave up when I realize in Haiti no one has expressed the desire to become a priest because they feel they are calling or have the vocation for that, but do so for the only and only one reason to secure a job and be the head of some partnerships. It is a shame they let that political division we have experienced in the country since 1803 spread through our church as well. Best way to help the diocese of Haiti is to stop funding those cons. May the supports go directly to the parishes instead of going through the diocese. We should request real reform in the diocese of Haiti. I have great respect for Bill Esquire for all the work he has completed in Haiti, but having a committee of only 3 people to work on that issue without including a Haitian who can understand the context and the lies of those people won’t help to resolve the problem. Should this problem be solved asap to save our diocese. Dictatorship somewhere is a threat for democracy everywhere.

    Norly Germain, a concerned episcopalian

  4. Although I have had some acquaintance with the Diocese of Haiti in the past and know the three recipients of the Presiding Bishop’s letter, I have no knowledge of specific issues that have prompted the current conflict. The PB’s stress on reconciliation as the goal to pray and work for is excellent and clearly just the right note to strike at this time. It would be easy for a letter of this type to slip into the bureaucratese of canons and procedures – as many such letters have in the past history of the Episcopal Church. Instead, Michael Curry addresses the situation from the standpoint of the gospel and God’s mission of reconciliation through Christ Jesus. Thanks be to God for his faithfulness and vision, and thanks be to God that both bishops involved have said that they likewise wish to work toward reconciliation.

  5. Frank E. Tate, III says:

    May They All Be ONE,as The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are One..
    This will pass, and guess what, THE HOLY TRINITY MARCHES ON..

Speak Your Mind

*

Full names required. Read our Comment Policy. General comments and suggestions about Episcopal News Service, as well as reports of commenting misconduct, can be e-mailed to news@episcopalchurch.org.