Thinking Anglicans

Brazilian Anglicans vote to marry same-sex couples

Updated Tuesday morning

Savi Hensman reports at Ekklesia:

Brazilian Anglicans’ ‘yes’ to marrying same-sex couples

The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil has decided to open up church marriage to same-sex couples. On 1 June 2018 its synod voted by a huge majority – 57 in favour, three against and two abstentions – to amend the rules (canons) on who could marry.

“I felt the decision was a result of the Holy Spirit’s presence and work. This widens our boundaries, allowing us to be more welcoming to the diversity of people in our country”, said the Primate (most senior bishop), Francisco de Assis da Silva.

This follows decades of discussion on sexuality, with more intensive debate in recent years. A handful of churches in the Anglican Communion (and certain other denominations) already allow clergy to marry same-sex couples, though Brazil is the first in the South to say ‘yes’…

Update
The Anglican Communion News Service now has this comprehensive report: Brazil’s Anglican Church changes its canons to permit same-sex marriage. This article includes comment from the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, and lists the state of play on this topic in other provinces which have taken, or are contemplating, similar action.

As of 2 pm Monday, there is no other report on this in English elsewhere, except for the press release copied below the fold, which has appeared at Anglican Ink.

Press release from IEAB

This is a historical moment for the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil. Today, it voted in favor of amending its marriage canon to allow same-sex blessings by a large majority of votes – 57 in favor, 4 against and 2 abstentions. This is the third time the matter was brought into consideration at a General Synod.

Canonical changes were approved in an environment filled by the Holy Spirit and with mutual love and respect. It was preceeded by long, deep and spiritual dialogue. This dialogue formally started in 1997, but had been going on much earlier, and reached the whole province since then through indabas, conferences, consultations, prayers, biblical and theological publications.

The Anglican Service for Diaconia and Development – SADD and Centre for Anglican Studies – CEA were commissioned by the Synod in 2013 to deepen dialogue among dioceses of the Province. It is worth noticing that same-sex civil marriage is legal in Brazil since 2012.

We were visited by international guests such as the Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Rt. Rev. Linda Nichols from Huron Diocese in Canada, among others. They shared with Synod their experience on the matter and led us into prayer.

We affirm our commitment with the Gospel of Jesus and our belonging to the Anglican Global Family. We also hope to keep walking together with those who disagree with us as we discern how to better respond to the challenges ahead of us in our contexts.
“I felt the decision was a result of the Holy Spirit’s presence and work. This widens our boundaries, allowing us to be more welcoming to the diversity of people in our country”, said the Primate of Brazil, the Most Rev. Francisco de Assis da Silva.

“As a member of the LGBT community, I followed this debate since its inception, first as a lay person and then as a clergy person. I personally felt discrimination and persecution when I first came out in the Diocese of Recife, and saw colleagues facing similar struggles. Some people left the Church, others lost faith in the Church as an institution. When I was chosen Provincial Secretary in 2011, the Church was aware of my sexual orientation and the fact I was in a civil union with Dr. David Morales. It was not an impediment to such crucial position. In 2016, we have had an extraordinary synod in order to discuss our canons as a whole. The discussion on Holy Matrimony was very challenging because it invited the church to speak out about this theme more openly. It allowed dioceses to engage in further discussion on a topic that had not been fully debated in some circles until then. I feel proud to witness this historic day for the Church of Brazil, which is also the day we celebrate IEAB’s 128th anniversary. We stand as a lighthouse at a time this country (and the world) faces so many difficulties, such as religious fundamentalism and intolerance. I finish my term as provincial secretary feeling completely overwhelmed.” [Quote from Revd Arthur Cavalcante, Provincial Secretary]

Liturgical changes will not be needed, the 2015 Book of Common Prayer’s marriage rite is gender neutral and should be used for any solemnization of marriage, regardless of gender.

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Kate
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Kate

Congratulations to Brazil

I don’t understand how England got to be so socially Conservative. Scotland for instance is probably pushing ahead with modernising the Gender Recognition Act but in England the same changes are facing opposition. We do need to start wondering, I think, what is in England which means we can’t pass something which in Brazil passed with such strong support.

Paul Waddington
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Paul Waddington

This is another step along the road towards the break up of the Anglican Communion. There can no longer be any healing of the rift between GAFCON and the ever more liberal Anglican Churches.

Before too long, the leaders of the Church of England will have to climb down on one or other side of the fence; and that will cause an irreparable rift in the English Church. It is just a matter of time.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Hallelujah!

Peter S
Guest
Peter S

Probably worth clarifying that the second block quote is from Rev Arthur Cavalcante, the Provincial Secretary, and not the Primate (as wonderful as it would be to know that an Anglican Primate was in a same-sex relationship!).

ED: thanks have made this clear above.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“There can no longer be any healing of the rift between GAFCON and the ever more liberal Anglican Churches.”

Don’t Gafcon claim to represent “the Global South”? Against the hegemony of colonialism, white oppression and so on? It’s going to be interesting to watch the people who want to argue that same-sex marruage is a liberal, northern, white, European colonialist piece of oppresion lumping Brazil in with the bad guys.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Before too long, the leaders of the Church of England will have to climb down on one or other side of the fence; and that will cause an irreparable rift in the English Church. It is just a matter of time.” – Posted by: Paul Waddington Dear Paul, the Church of England has actually survived even tougher prospects than learning to live with the reality of Equal Marriage. Earlier problems with contraception, divorce and re-marriage, and women’s ordination undoubtedly was the occasion of a minority leaving the Church. However, the Church has had to learn to cope with the changing… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

RS, I should have thought that PW’s comment made complete sense. If the CofE approves ss marriage, it will cause a division.

Josiah I-F’s (rather anodyne) response also makes it clear there is a teaching of the Communion Provinces, that they have agreed, and that this is a departure from that.

One can be enthusiastic about ss marriage, as you are, but it cannot also be the case that one blithely holds the view that all will be well. No, there will be a deep division. PW is simply preferring realism over enthusiasm.

Andrew Godsall
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Andrew Godsall

“If the CofE approves ss marriage, it will cause a division”

Christopher, exactly the same was said of the ordination of women. The truth is that NOT approving of it will cause division as well, as was also the case with the ordination of women.

So one can be UNenthusiastic about ss marriage, as you are, but it cannot also be the case that one blithely holds the view that all will be well. We will have to, eventually, come to some settlement along the lines of the five guiding principles. There is no other choice.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

What Dr. Idowu-Fearon began with is interesting. To quote: “Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, said: ‘The churches of the Anglican Communion are autonomous and free to make their own decisions on canon law.'” This is a useful clarification in several ways–“churches,” “autonomous,” and “free to make their own decisions.” Of course, nearly everything that follows is an attempt to discourage other provinces from following Brazil’s lead. The Secretary General closes with the usual waffle: “It is important to stress the Communion’s strong opposition to the criminalisation of LGBTIQ+ people.” Might the Communion ever say that it opposes criminalisation of same-sex _conduct_? Or… Read more »

Paul Waddington
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Paul Waddington

“the Church of England has actually survived even tougher prospects than learning to live with the reality of Equal Marriage”. In response to Fr Ron Smith, I think the choice of the word, survived, is very appropriate. According to the British Social Attitudes survey, I think that in 1983, 43% of British people regarded themselves as Anglican (or C of E, or SEC or C of I). Now that figure is just 15%. Furthermore, and even more alarmingly, the median age of members of the Anglican Churches in Britain is over 65. What will the position be in, say, 15… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“If the CofE approves ss marriage, it will cause a division.” The same might said of any advance in social justice: there will always be people too invested in injustice to be willing to change. Organisations have to choose whether to tactically remain with the past, or strategically move to the future. The future of the organisation is different to the temporary opinions of its current members, particularly as those opposing improvements in social justice are largely the older members. The long-term effect on the Catholic Church in Ireland of refusing to change is glaringly obvious to see. First they… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

“One can be enthusiastic about ss marriage, as you are, but it cannot also be the case that one blithely holds the view that all will be well. No, there will be a deep division. PW is simply preferring realism over enthusiasm. “ If the bishops block it again, I think there’s enough momentum to get the exceptions removed from the Equality Act. It’s like the Irish border in Brexit. There might be an immovable object but an irresistible force will slam into it. In both cases it will require a stroke of genius to find a solution which is… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

IO, Spinal Tap: quite marvellous. TA has ‘gorn orf’ these days with so many taking themselves so seriously. As church officials open their mouths only to change feet, the only response is ridicule. Thank you.

crs
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crs

Only 7% of the entire population of England consider themselves C Of E.

Survival?

10% say they are RC. 6% Muslim.

I think the pressing present question is, how can there be a C of E so very few people believe is a church by law established but not attended.

No one seriously expects any of this to change.

Next year it will be 6% anglican, 6% muslim, 11% RC. And the next year following this trend.

Church of England — just how so?

Bernard Silverman
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Bernard Silverman

The deep rift in the Church of England is here already. Brazil’s action will embolden those on both sides of this argument. I don’t think that it will be possible to enforce the party line much longer because (more) bishops will break ranks. On the other hand the “conservative” view will also be expressed more strongly. Disputes where both sides are absolutely convinced they are right are rarely pleasant. However, the very long term pattern of numerical decline seems unlikely to be affected whatever decision is taken. Kate: much as I would wish the Church of England to make far… Read more »

T Pott
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T Pott

@crs

Please could you cite your source for the statistics, which seem very shocking.

FrDavidH
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FrDavidH

CRS: It us not so much that the English have chosen to reject a national church. It’s more a decision to regard all religions as nonsense.

John Bunyan
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John Bunyan

There are so many things one could respond to on this site where conservatives and traditional liberals rarely contribute. But perhaps the most important refers to the comment regarding the execution of Jesus. It is simply not true to say that he was crucified for advocating a loving God. He was crucified by the Romans, with the support of the high priest and those closely associated with him, because his activities were thought to threaten the stability of the regime in Judaea. Jesus was not a “liberal protestant” but a devout Jew with a mission to his own people, and… Read more »

Fr Andrew
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Fr Andrew

The most recent Social Attitudes survey put those identifying as Church of England at 17 per cent. Perhaps crs inadvertently missed off the first digit.

crs
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crs

“It us not so much that the English have chosen to reject a national church. It’s more a decision to regard all religions as nonsense.” Doesn’t sound like RCs or Muslims agree. No surprise there. Maybe I don’t understand your point. It sounds like a step down from a counsel of despair. TP. These are figures I have seen in the last week. I am happy to stand corrected. They likely refer to percentage of those active in worship attendance. I think the main point is that there is an established church in England that an increasingly smaller and smaller… Read more »

Andrew Godsall
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Andrew Godsall

“I think the main point is that there is an established church in England that an increasingly smaller and smaller proportion of subjects attend or identify with.”

Christopher: and does this have anything in any way to do with same sex marriage? (the subject of the thread)

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Re: Paul Bunyan (6:04 am), “…so many things one could respond to on this site…” Marshal McLuhan was right. Media (one notes blogging),like the blaring car horn directed at another driver, is an extension of our nervous system. Yet, one is reluctant to ‘cede the space’ as the saying goes. You rightfully reference Christian antisemitism. I reviewed Geza Vermes’ comments on, Resurrection in the Hearts of Men. It is an extremely generous comment from a Jewish scholar. In a dialogical forum we could have a discussion about his intellectual generosity, his own particular life story, and how those of us… Read more »

Laurie Roberts
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Laurie Roberts

If fewer people attend mass, does that really = ‘the decline of Anglicanism’ ? I am not convinced – why should it ‘equal’ that ? Thinking about it – more and more bodies, knees on hassocks ? I find spirituality and prayer, and commitment and love to be more profound than that… more nuanced, less measurable, more real & risky… trying this out : it’s perhaps, more like : ‘the silence of eternity interpreted by love’ and today’s epistle (1.Pt) surprised by grace, (grace, grace !), and the gospel, she has been married to all 7 brothers but now she… Read more »

Paul Waddington
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Paul Waddington

If fewer people attend mass, does that really = ‘the decline of Anglicanism’ ? In response to Laurie Roberts, the British Social Attitudes statistics are compiled from responses to the question: Do you belong to a religious denomination, and if so which? It does not relate to church attendance. However, if one wants to argue along the lines of church attendance, the C of E’s own published statistics tell a similar story. That is a consistent fall in church attendance, year on year, of about 1.5%. The trend is inexorable. The most troubling statistics in my view are these: 1.… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“BTW, if memory serves already ten years ago England was more Roman Catholic than Anglican. “It’s immigration.” Well, that doesn’t explain the decline of Anglicanism.” Actually, it probably does. Roman Catholics tend to have larger families than Protestants in general and likely Anglicans in particular. If the population as a whole is becoming more RC, and the Anglican portion is not growing as quickly as the RC portion, then the Anglican portion as a percentage of total population will decline. Simple example: Village has a population of 50, split 25/25 RC and CoE. RC couple moves in without children. Now… Read more »

Laurie Roberts
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Laurie Roberts

I feel led to share this testimony from an evangelical minister and parish, in conversation with Iona’s John Bell.

It is very moving.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-w0ylq-waE

Surely, things must change for us before too long ?

crs
Guest
crs

PW:

The statistics are similar in TEC. Average size congregation, uppers 50s. Average age, lower 60s. Baptism and marriage rates down more than 50% since 1980. 45% of dioceses less than 4000 ASA.

Fortunately I think the HOB in TEC is alert to the very fragile state of affairs. If you are a bishop in one of these dioceses, “you get it.”

One thing the HOB has avoided is the bromide that ss marriage will bring (even anodyne) improvement.

But of course TEC does not have the bear the responsibility of being “The Church of the USA.”

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Statistics. Oh how it brings us back to the simplistic divination that ssm is the one crucial variable that will make things worse, and certainly not better. Reminds of an anecdote I heard many years ago. There was was a preacher who no matter what the day of the Christian year always ended up preaching about death –death at Christmas, death at Easter, death at Pentecost and so on. Finally, the feast of St. Joseph rolled around. Ever optimistic parishioners thought, “at least today, on the feast of St. Joseph, we will hear about something other than death from the… Read more »

Laurie Roberts
Guest
Laurie Roberts

My apologies, but the you tube video I submitted at 12.43 today was not the one I had specifically felt led to share (though it is very good).

This is the correct url and it is very moving and a real pointer towards ways for forward in evangelical churches — and probably can be ‘applied’ in many different churches.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G51jf2sGts8

T Pott
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T Pott

@crs The 7% Anglican, 10% Catholic, 6% Muslim figures appear in a report by Professor Bullivant, Europe’s Young Adults and Religion. That may be your source. They relate to the UK, not England; and to people aged 16 to 29, not the general population. Low figures for the young are only partially generational, and partly age-related. There has long been a preponderance of old ladies in the pews, many of whom became regular churchgoers later in life. We might expect some of todays young women and men to do the same. Re whether near-weekly communicants would be a good measure,… Read more »

crs
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crs

“Still, whatever the figures, the reality is dire.”

I agree. God has only good things for His creation.

Let’s see where He is going now…

Bernard Silverman
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Bernard Silverman

In fact longitudinal comparisons of the BSA over long periods show that the religious or non religious composition of each cohort is pretty stable as that cohort ages. So the current makeup of 16 to 29 year olds is a reasonable predictor of middle aged people in 20 to 30 years and of older people in 40 to 50 years. T Pott’s assertion isn’t strongly supported by the Survey. And when that cohort becomes parents, the evidence (over many decades) is that the next generation will be even less affiliated. But T Pott is right about older people predominating in… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Interesting how a such a good news story from Brazil has turned into such a bad news side bar on this thread about stats in the UK/England and (of course!) TEC. Conservatives ought to know that statistics on religious participation is a mug’s game. Don’t let them tell you every silver lining must have a dark cloud. Who is to say that statistical analysis presents a bleak situation going forward. The measured decline of institutional forms of Christianity in western democracies may actually be measuring the shedding of unnecessary baggage, ineffective governance structures, culturally irrelevant messaging, and so forth. The… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“Low figures for the young are only partially generational, and partly age-related”

Perhaps. Finally, however, the general managers of symphony orchestras are realising that people don’t grow into Shostakovich, and their audience is starting to die without (outside London, at least) significant replacement. Perhaps it’s different for churches. Perhaps.

crs
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crs

RG: Boy you are singing the conservatives tune here: “may actually be measuring the shedding of unnecessary baggage, ineffective governance structures.” General Convention in TEC, Title IV, 815 Second Avenue, Salary for the President of the HOD, CEOs, COOs — all of this is bloated and expensive. Let dioceses be free to do mission. If SCOTUS hears the SC case and were to rule in favour, the great sucking sound you would be hearing is the retreat of dioceses into their respective non-centralized regions to do mission and balance their budgets. Much as TEC was when I was a young… Read more »

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

“If SCOTUS hears the SC case and were to rule in favour, the great sucking sound you would be hearing is the retreat of dioceses into their respective non-centralized regions to do mission and balance their budgets.”

It’s a very BIG if of course Christopher, and doesn’t seem very likely. But given your following observation, by the same token wouldn’t it be better to let Anglican Provinces like Brazil make their own decisions about ss marriage, as they have done, without any adverse observations?

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re CRS, “Boy you are singing the conservatives tune here” Nah, I think you are experiencing mondegreen or something.

“General Convention in TEC….etc. etc. etc”

Hey man, your’re singing the same old song. Like the crackling sound of an old favorite worn 45rpm from yesteryear. All your posts come down to the same refrain….TEC …..TEC……TEC….broken record…broken record…broken record….

Same sex marriage is coming to the Anglican tradition my friend. . You know, like Leonard Cohen’s song. Democracy is Coming. ( :

Won’t you sing it with me?

crs
Guest
crs

“Same sex marriage is coming to the Anglican tradition my friend.”

Of course it is. It is already here. Your song book is signed.

That isn’t the issue. At issue is how wide that Anglican Tradition swath will be. If you are happy with 20% and a divided AC, you will get your wish!

And there will be your TEC…TEC..TEC

crs
Guest
crs

Your comment, AG, reflects the general wisdom (SCOTUS hears about 1% of the submissions made to it). Notable therefore was the announcement a month back that, together with another Johns v Wolff case, SCOTUS would meet in conference to review the TEC v SC case on 7 June — last Thursday. The fact that state courts have held differently on this matter may be relevant to their decision. TEC adopted the tactic of holding that SCSC did not decide on the basis of Jones v Wolff — a high risk, dubious, move. If 4 judges decide they want to hear… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

With regard to further developments on the same sex marriage issue in The Communion, The Diocese of Toronto has just elected a new diocesan Bishop, The Rev. Rev. Andrew Absil. http://www.toronto.anglican.ca/2018/06/08/get-live-updates-from-the-electoral-synod/ All the nominees were asked how they would vote in 2019 on second reading of the Canadian Church’s proposal to amend its marriage canon in favor of same sex marriage in the church. Absil, along with all the other candidates, with one exception, answered with an unequivocal ‘yes’ i.e. they would vote in favor. If the page is still up, their responses, may be found here. Scroll down to… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re:CRS, “It is already here.” You missed the continuous sense and the allusion to Leonard Cohen’s tune, Democracy (The Future).

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Typo correction: The surname of the bishop elect of T.O. is Asbil ( not Absil), and his title is obviously not Rev.Rev. It is The Very Rev. Andrew Asbil. my bad.

crs
Guest
crs

RG: Glad Leonard Cohen is helping you.

What are the odds of ACoC survival as an institution?

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Having read all the opinions in the South Carolina decision, it seems obvious that the justices were quick to base their reasoning on state law, not federal law.
So I’m not sure why it’s “high risk” to characterise that decision as the majority characterised it.
We shall know tomorrow.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: CRS: “What are the odds of ACoC survival as an institution?” Short answer, I don’t worry about it. The Church is in the hands of The Spirit.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

And now we know–the United States Supreme Court has denied certiorari, meaning that the prior decision of the Supreme Court of South Carolina stands.

See here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/061118zor_aplc.pdf

crs
Guest
crs

I disagree Jeremy and TX and Illinois make clear that Jones v Wolff remains a disputed federal ruling at state level. That said, TEC has won and it is now their duty before God to take the diocese over and make it work. I am in Paris today and away from the news, but somone forwarded the results that EDSC people thought was likely. Having almost lost my wife last year to lung and heart problems I know that life has its life and death struggles. The clergy and people in EDSC will learn from God how they will make… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Jones v Wolff remains a disputed federal ruling at state level.”

In Jones v. Wolf (one “f”), the United States Supreme Court interpreted the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Have you ever heard of something called the Supremacy Clause?

Or are you refighting the Civil War all over again?

crs
Guest
crs

https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/cases/jones-v-wolf

Here is a thumbnail that might help you Jeremy. TX and Ill ruled that an accessiion clause did not establish a trust and Jones v Wolf had called for neutral principles of law to be applied.

Civil War? Supremacy Clause? Sorry, but this is so far afield as to confuse yet further.

Have a good day.

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

Christopher:

I am sorry that the breakaway diocese lost their call for appeal, but it was obviously not a huge surprise.

My question to you remains: how does it seem right to you that groups of churches like these may break away and still call themselves Anglican, but when a province like Brazil makes a reasoned decision, as outlined in the topic of this thread, you somehow suggest they are not right to do so?