Alarm raised over draft Covenant
In the week before the General Synod of the Church of England will be asked to endorse the process to create an Anglican Covenant, Affirming Catholicism has sounded alarm over the current proposed draft. In a commentary on the Covenant design group’s proposal to give the final say on Anglican doctrine to the meeting of the leaders of national churches, the Primates, The Rev’d Dr Mark Chapman, editor of a forthcoming Affirming Catholicism publication on the Anglican Covenant, and Vice-Principal of the Ripon College, Cuddesdon, said:
The emphasis given in the current proposals to the Primates’ Meeting (composed of 38 men and one woman) downplays the importance of synods. There is something disingenuous about giving power to determine membership of the Communion and to decide what constitutes the ‘common mind’ of the Churches to a group who at the moment refuse even to share Eucharistic communion with each other.
Affirming Catholicism has previously welcomed the idea of an Anglican Covenant as one possible way of healing divisions over Church discipline regarding homosexuality which have fractured the global communion, and Dr Chapman’s paper reiterates the movement’s hope that an instrument which creates dialogue and affirms the progressive elements within Anglicanism might provide a way forward.
The Chair of Trustees, Canon Nerissa Jones, MBE, said:
We support any attempt by the Archbishop of Canterbury to hold us all together. Affirming Catholics are progressive and inclusive Anglicans who value our place in a diverse and global Communion. And that is why we argue that only a covenant which values the role of local Synods, and recognises that episcopal power must be shared with lay people, can win the support of ordinary Anglicans. We hope that Synod will vote to support the ongoing process provided that it also insists that these features are vital to the future of Anglicanism as we know it.
This weekend’s Synod motion, if passed, would give authority to top officials in the Church of England to comment on the draft ahead of next year’s gathering of Anglican Bishops at the Lambeth Conference. Fr Jonathan Clark, a member of the group Affirming Catholics in Synod and rector of the Anglican Society of Catholic Priests, has tabled an amendment to the motion to ensure that the Synod itself – the only elected body in the Church – endorses the Church’s official response to the current draft covenant. Fr Clark has also jointly published an article with the Rev’d Canon Dr Graham Kings, theological secretary of the evangelical organisation, Fulcrum, in which the two affirm the need for a covenant which can build mutual respect and increased tolerance amongst Anglican Christians.
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