Saturday, 5 September 2009

The Anglican Covenant -bound to fail

A document entitled, “The Anglican Covenant: shared discernment recognised by all” has just been produced by the Anglican Communion Institute and a link can be found at Thinking Anglicans. It is worth noting first of all that the ACI is not an official body, although some have pointed out that, with its quasi official name, it certainly purports to be. This 27 page document – and I have only skim read it this morning! – seems to me to be another example of heavy handed bullying from those who really want something really stern to be done to the Episcopal Church. It authors include, among others, Bishop Tom Wright. It seems to me that what the ACI want is for Canterbury to declare that, by its actions at Anaheim, TEC has ruled itself out of any right to sign the Anglican covenant.
What principally struck me was both the bullying arrogance, but also the desperation of the argument. In a précis the ACI effectively declares that the issue of human sexuality is done and dusted,
We will then show that the shared discernment of the Communion on the issue of human sexuality is unequivocal. All four Instruments of Communion have spoken with one voice for over a decade, both in terms of general teaching and through specific recommendations.

So, the issue is unequivocally resolved is it? There will be no further debate and the world will stand still ? It was at this point that I pondered the title, what do the authors think they mean when they declare that discernment on this issue is recognised by all?
The ACI also show their anger at the TEC and imply that they must not be allowed to sign, although there is no guarantee that they will want to!

In this light, the actions of General Convention repudiating the teaching of the Communion on human sexuality can only be seen as the repudiation of the Covenant itself. The Communion and its shared discernment cannot be separated…
The comments on section 4 are most peculiar. The ACI seems to want robust disciplinary measures and real sanctions applied, regardless of how desirable or possible such discipline would be.
Rather, a robust Section 4 is necessary in order to provide agreed procedures that all churches can trust. Without effective procedures in Section 4, others will emerge but they will not be ones that have been accepted in advance by all.
I am sure I won’t be the only one to be amazed by the barely veiled threat,“without effective proceedures others will emerge but they will not be accepted by all.” Surely this translates as, “do something, or things will get nasty?”
Perhaps the saddest thing of all is that the whole biblical concept of covenant is of God reaching out to man with the promise of love, mercy and grace. The Anglican Covenant, which is meant to bind us all, despite our differences, will do no such thing. The venture is doomed from the outset to be hijacked by those motivated by a desire to control, demand and punish and, one suspects, to promote personal interests and ambitions.


  1. I'm told that it will be sold to General Synod as a way of holding the Anglican Communion together, when in fact, (as any fule kno), it is an instrument for tearing it apart. Synod, though, on past form, is stupid enough to believe anything.

  2. I suspect you may be right, Poppy. I fear that the covenant will serve only to be a source of bitterness and discord for a very long time.