Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Cuba Episcopalians Have 1st woman Bishop

Cuba Episcopalians Have 1st woman Bishop
By JOHN RICE, Associated Press Writer
Wed Feb 7, 10:15 AM ET;

Reuters Photo:
Nerva Cot Aguilera talks to
Reuters in Havana
February 7, 2007.

Cot Aguilera will become... Slideshow: Cuba Episcopalians name female bishop

The Episcopal Church has named a woman as bishop in Cuba, the first such appointment by the church in the developing world, church officials said Tuesday.

The Rev. Nerva Cot Aguilera was named suffragan bishop on Sunday during a service in the Cuban city of Matanzas, said Robert Williams, director of communications for the U.S.-based Episcopal Church.

"Her appointment is a wonderful reminder that in some nations, leadership is primarily about gifts for service and not about gender," said U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who took office in November as the first woman to lead the church.

Cot will be consecrated in Havana on June 10, along with Cuba's other newly named suffragan bishop, Ulises Mario Aguiera Prendes.

Cot, 69, told The Associated Press that she was "tremendously honored" but also faces "a great challenge" as the church, with some 10,000 members, moves toward greater national autonomy.

She said she had not seen the sort of divisions over the ordination of women within Cuba's relatively small church that Anglican communities elsewhere have experienced in recent years.

Cot was a secondary school teacher before church reforms permitted her ordination as one of the first three Episcopal women priests in Cuba in 1987.

Cuba was a diocese of the U.S. church until 1967, when it was forced to break away because hostility between the U.S. and Cuban governments made contacts difficult. Cuba's communist leaders were embracing official atheism at the time, a stance abandoned in the early 1990s.

It has operated under a Metropolitan Council now chaired by the archbishop of Canada, Andrew Hutchison. It also includes Jefferts Schori and the archbishop of the West Indies.

Cuba's interim bishop, Miguel Tamayo, is also bishop of Uruguay.

As suffragan bishops, Cot and Aguiera will serve under Tamayo. Cot said she will be responsible for western Cuba with Aguiera heading the church in the east.

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