Indigenous Episcopal consecrations in Peru begin the journey to autonomy

The Primate of the Anglican Church of South America, the Most Revd Héctor (Tito) Zavala Muñoz, and Bishop of the Diocese of Chile, has consecrated three indigenous priests to be missionary bishops in Peru. Three missionary areas have been carved from the Diocese of Peru, with the intention they will shortly be dioceses in their own right with a new Diocese of Lima. These are the first steps in Peru’s future as an autonomous Anglican province.

The new bishops are the Rt Revds Alejandro Mesco, Juan Carlos Revilla, and Jorge Luis Aguilar. They will serve missionary areas in Arequipa, in the south of Peru; Chiclayo, in the north of Peru; Huancayo, in the central highland. They will minister with the current Bishop of Peru, the Rt Revd William Godfrey.

An Anglican mission was approved in 1846 and was the first non-Roman Catholic church in Peru. The first chaplain arrived in 1849. The mission primarily ministered to the English and North Americans in Peru. It later was the foundation of the English-speaking parish for the Anglican cathedral in Lima, the Church of the Good Shepherd. Today there are 50 Spanish-speaking mission churches scattered around Peru.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, sent greetings to the newly consecrated bishops. The Anglican Communion was represented by Secretary General, the Rt Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon.

Read more about this story here.

Photo from the Anglican Communion News Service.

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  1. Professor Christopher Seitz

    Great story.

    Good to see +Josiah there on behalf of Canterbury.

  2. JC Fisher

    By “indigenous”, do you mean non-Spanish speaking (in their ministry)? I would be interested to know the languages/ethnicities, thanks.

    • David Allen

      By indigenous, I mean that they are not white Europeans, they are Peruvians. Whether they speak an indigenous language, in addition to Spanish, is beyond the scope of the information available.

      The senior bishop with whom they will work, William Godfrey, who is the Bishop of Peru, is a white Englishman. As, I believe, is the bishop suffragan, the Rt Revd Michael Alexander Chapman.

      • Cynthia Katsarelis

        It’s difficult nomenclature. “Indigenous” generally refers specifically to Natives or Indian people, yet I don’t know a name for the non indigenous Peruvians. I presume they are descendants of the Spanish immigrant/conquistadors and now seem to be the power holders. It’s a murky vocabulary for folks hoping that this signals a ministry to actual indigenous peoples.

        And no, I didn’t already say that, and I am hoping that someone can offer clarity.

      • David Allen

        Those of us who are Latino don’t always make the sharp distinctions which you want to apply here. We Latino folk don’t always fit in the little boxes 1st world folks operate with.

        Traditionally, those of us who are mixed European and native Amerindian heritage are referred to as Mestizo. And Mestizo usually refers mostly to folks who have an Iberian heritage. My family is even more mixed than some; both of my parents have both full blooded indigenous and Spanish Mestizo heritage. They also have other European heritage. My mother’s family is French, as denoted by her patrilineal surname Secor, thanks to Napoleon III’s invasion and attempt to give Mexico an Emperor. My father’s family is Irish, as denoted by his patrilineal surname Allen, thanks to San Patricio’s band in the war of US aggression.

        I’m not educated enough about the political and social milieu in Peru today to comment about who is or isn’t in charge. I recall that there are also a number of Japanese immigrant folks in the mix. But if it’s like much of the rest of Latin America, the true indigenous are getting the mucky end of life’s stick.

      • Cynthia Katsarelis

        I hear you, and I appreciate the portrait. What I’m trying to sort out is that there are populations that suffer at the hands of power holders. My hope is that the new diocese, with locally raised bishops, will truly serve all people. And it makes me hope for another voice for justice.

        I know you don’t want a diversion, but corporations go into countries like Peru and wantonly violate human rights. I have a naive hope that the church could be more helpful in some ways, even if it is merely shedding light on abuses. That’s not likely to happen if this diocese is exclusively for the power holders… I guess time will tell.

      • David Allen

        Here’s a photo from the website in Paul Power’s link below.

        I think that with 50 Spanish speaking churches now spread across Peru that these are ministering to folks who aren’t in power.

    • Cynthia Katsarelis

      In Peru, the government has collaborated in human rights violations against some of their indigenous people. Look up abuses with with mining companies who have hired the Peruvian National Army to beat, torture, and arrest activists. Some have been mirdered. It matters a great deal whether the intent is to minister to the oppressed or the oppressor. Or both.

    • David Allen

      Good to know.

  3. Paul Powers

    According to this website, Bishop Mesco speaks Quechua.

    From the Anglican Church in Peru’s website:

    The Aid and Development NGO was formed by the Diocese to develop our commitment to social outreach work. The Diocese is firmly committed to serving the poor and every sort of need. As we see so much poverty, suffering and injustice round about us, the words of Christ in the parable of the Sheep and Goats ring in our hearts, ‘As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Mt.25:40)

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