Cuba ordains first woman bishop

Havana, Cuba - The Episcopal Church in Cuba has consecrated a woman bishop - the first in the developing world.

The Reverend Nerva Cot is now the 18th female bishop in the world.

As Ms Cot was consecrated, she was surrounded by senior Church leaders from within Cuba, as well as the bishops of Panama, Haiti and Miami.

Only the Catholic Church, which has the largest Christian congregation in the country, did not send a senior official to the ceremony.

Communist Cuba was officially atheist until it changed its constitution in 1992.

Break with tradition

There was hardly space in Havana's modest Episcopal cathedral for all the people that wanted to see this small piece of history being made.

In the congregation were priests from Afro-Cuban religions and hundreds of Cuban worshippers.

Cuba's ruling Communist Party was represented by the head of its Religious Affairs Office, Caridad Diego.

She told the BBC that her government was proud that this country now had a woman bishop and she believed Communists and religious leaders shared many ideals and should work together for the good of humanity.

Ms Cot says that although the process that led to her appointment goes back at least 25 years, she was still surprised when she realised she was going to become a bishop.

Much of the service followed the traditions of the Anglican communion but at the end there was a reminder that plenty of traditions can be broken - in their robes the bishops walked down the aisle clapping to a Cuban rhythm.