Thinking Anglicans

CofE response to Draft Anglican Covenant

Updated Wednesday evening

Press Release Church responds to draft Anglican Covenant

Church responds to draft Anglican Covenant

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, as Presidents of the General Synod, have submitted a Church of England Response to the draft Anglican Covenant published last year for discussion around the Anglican Communion.

All Anglican Provinces were invited to comment on the text prepared by the Covenant Design Group chaired by the Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Revd Drexel Gomez. The Church of England’s response follows a General Synod debate on the principle of an Anglican Covenant in July 2007, when the following motion was carried.

‘That this Synod:

(a) affirm its willingness to engage positively with the unanimous recommendation of the Primates in February 2007 for a process designed to produce a covenant for the Anglican Communion;

(b) note that such a process will only be concluded when any definitive text has been duly considered through the synodical processes of the provinces of the Communion; and

(c) invite the Presidents, having consulted the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council, to agree the terms of a considered response to the draft from the Covenant Design Group for submission to the Anglican Communion Office by the end of the year.’

The text of the response has been overseen by the House of Bishops’ Theological Group and builds on the earlier work of the Faith and Order Advisory Group. The draft response was discussed by the House of Bishops in October and by the Archbishops’ Council in November.

The Covenant Design Group will be meeting at the end of January to consider all Provincial responses. A ‘take note’ debate on the Church of England response to the Anglican Covenant is planned for the General Synod in February 2008.
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The text of the response can be found here, as an RTF file.

Update
An html version of the entire document can now be found here.

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Is the Archbishop of the West Indies still on the drafting group? If so, he should resign NOW. Or the General Synod of the Church of England should manifest some courage in the face of ++Cantuar’s moral blackmail to ‘ask’ for his removal.

badman
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badman

Drafting by committee is notoriously difficult, but this response is astonishingly successful in improving the substance and form of the draft text. It makes general points but then puts forward specific wording in every case. Of course, some of it will be controversial, but a Covenant along these lines could be a genuinely useful and inspiring resource for the Communion. Among the booby traps (but most of it is on a much higher level than such traps) are the trail that, in future, the Communion may be based on the diocese and not on the province, and the flat refusal… Read more »

Jeffrey Allison
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Jeffrey Allison

I am outraged and also bewildered by the CofE response. How any “church” could allow for the ‘intervention” of other bodies into their corporate bodies is beyond me. I believe their will be otherwise thinking before the end of this year on that point, when +Rochester, etc start pulling their diocese closer to the Global South Junta.

EPfizH
Guest
EPfizH

Am I correctly reading this as: 1. a strong affirmnation of the primates, to function for the Anglican Communion in similar manner to the magisterium of the Roman Catholics? 2. The Primates to function as an executive committee for the Lambeth Conference? 3. Identification of “communion” on a diocese by diocese basis rather than by national church and 4. Membership in the communion defined by the Archbishop of Canterbury? It appears that, although defining membership might be the responsibility of Canterbury, the “type” of membership (full, constitituent, two tieredetc.) could be at the discretion of the primates in their “executive/doctrinal”… Read more »

Paul Bagshaw
Guest

On a very quick initial reading: On the whole this seems to be a move in the right direction (given the momentum which says we have to have a covenant at all). There are curious observations (Comment 5) about dioceses, as opposed to the 38 National Church bodies, being the constituent members of the Communion – implying that San Joaquin could be in the AC if TEC wasn’t, for example, or that the Diocese of Manchester could be in but the Diocese of Liverpool out. Yet the later statement that bishops exercise their ministry within the whole church (Comment 23)… Read more »

John-Julian,OJN
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John-Julian,OJN

While there is much to comment on regarding the “political” interaction of provinces, etc., etc., I want to point out what in our tradition is a significant theological error: ” Due administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Supper of the Lord ordained by Christ himself, ministered with the unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution, and of the elements ordained by him.” “The Supper of the Lord” is (and was) NOT a sacrament! The Last Supper was a “farewell banquet” for the disciples of Jesus. The Holy Eucharist (to which this sentence refers) could not BE a Eucharist… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Some comments reading through… They’d better sort out the “more than theoretical question” whether it is national Churches that belong or the dioeceses. The Archbishop of Canterbury seems to think it is dioeces. On biblical texts: “They suggest a way of handling the biblical material that not all Anglicans share” Phew! Tell that to the Advent Letter! “arguably the Covenant requires a more ‘minimalist’ approach” I can think of a much more minimalist approach. Then there is this: “From a Church of England perspective, Stephen Slack has confirmed that it would be unlawful for the General Synod to delegate its… Read more »

Jlucas
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Jlucas

It appears that this is more than just the response from the CofE and that the revised Covenant from the Design Group begins on page 15. Is this the new draft covenant?

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

“From a Church of England perspective, Stephen Slack has confirmed that it would be unlawful for the General Synod to delegate its decision making powers to the Primates, and that this therefore means that it could not sign up to a Covenant which purported to give the Primates of the Communion the ability to give ‘direction’ about the course of action that the Church of England should take.”

Interesting.

Jlucas
Guest
Jlucas

Ok I think the sentence “A revision of the text from the Covenant Design Group in the light of the points made in the commentary” means that the text, not the revision, is from the Covenant Design Group. The revision is from Abp of Canterbury and York. So much for clarity of language.

Malcolm+
Guest

I still maintain thaqt the whole idea of a covenant is a bit of well-intentioned stupidity – if we can meet we need no covenant; if we cannot meet no covenant can help. That said, this commentary from the CofE makes a number of worthwhile points – particularly about the way in which the agenda-ridden drafters have tried to impose particular views as being definitive for Anglicans. These range from the reasonably straightforward (ie the number of sacraments) to the more oblique (ie how ethical guidance is derived from scripture. But my favourite part was the simple affirmation that granting… Read more »

Dirk
Guest
Dirk

John-Julian – they are using the language of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. See pp. 877-878 of the American BCP. Even though it is in historical documents section, it is pretty definitive for our ecumenical dialogues and therefore still the point of reference for relationships with other churches.

I’m heartened that there is more effort in this draft to use the Quadrilateral and its elements for relationships among the provinces.

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Gosh! What a lot of interesting stuff – those of us that have been away/sick or hibernating over Christmas/New Year have a lot to review!! Pluralist has hit the Achilles heel of this English review. Having been given the expected advice that England cannot even appear to give up any decision making to an outside body – How can they then advocate for an outside body to be given the authority to intervene in the affairs of the Church of England even if it is – “specifically authorised by the relevant Instruments of Communion.” ? Or does the phrase “other… Read more »

Robert Leduc
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Robert Leduc

In the catechism of the ’79 BCP it also indicates that “Lord’s Supper” is simply a synonym for “Mass” or “Divine Liturgy” (among others). We clearly believe this was instituted by Christ. Whether the actual Last Supper was or was not a Eucharist is not addressed in the draft Covenant or the U.S. BCP as near as I can tell.

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

It seems that this paragraph has caused a good bit of comment, and I was less than explicit in my own remarks. Might I try again? “From a Church of England perspective, Stephen Slack has confirmed that it would be unlawful for the General Synod to delegate its decision making powers to the Primates, and that this therefore means that it could not sign up to a Covenant which purported to give the Primates of the Communion the ability to give ‘direction’ about the course of action that the Church of England should take.” Simon (or other knowledgeable persons) could… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

I’ve basically been with Malcolm+ all along on this Covenant idea — if you need it, it won’t work & if you don’t need it, why bother? After all, the Gaffe-Con primates already aren’t in Communion with the rest & no new rules can be composed that everyone will agree to that can change that. TEC already pointed out that he can’t legally allow people outside the church to exercise jurisdiction over it — now ditto the C of E (which point I made long ago — this involves the Royal Prerogative & doubtless support in Parliament as well). As… Read more »

Christopher
Guest

Fr. John Julian, “Last Supper” and “Lord’s Supper” are not technically the same thing theologically. The Supper of the Lord is that Supper at which Christ feeds us his own self. Some of our Lutheran kin, who tend to have a higher understanding of Real Presence than Anglicans enforce, use that term precisely this way, and it is only because of Zwinglian influences, I suspect, that we might not see it thus as Anglicans. “The Supper of the Lord” is quite distinct from the Last Supper, which as you point out was not a sacrament.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Surely the idea that Parliament can be usurped in the governance of its state Church is unconstitutional and challengable in the Privy Council.

Surely Parliament would have to consent to the Church of England subscribing to the Covenant?

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Charlotte I hope you are right. One of things that has struck me in the debate over the last few months is about the calls to submit to the authorities, when the sub-text reads “submit to OUR interpretation”. Luke 12:10-12 “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what… Read more »

badman
Guest
badman

The CofE version proposes that the Primates will offer only “guidance” (not “direction”) and on how serious dispute “may” be resolved (not “must” be resolved). The Primates are not being given power, only influence. Elsewhere, section 5(5) expressly disclaims any “central legislative or executive authority”. 6(5) says the Instruments of Communion “have no juridical or executive authority in our Provinces”, although they are granted “a spiritual, pastoral and doctrinal authority which commands our respect”. Those who flout the covenant are not expelled, they will be subjected to “a process of restoration and renewal” which is “required to re-establish their covenant… Read more »

Paul Bagshaw
Guest

“From a Church of England perspective, Stephen Slack has confirmed that it would be unlawful for the General Synod to delegate its decision making powers to the Primates, and that this therefore means that it could not sign up to a Covenant which purported to give the Primates of the Communion the ability to give ‘direction’ about the course of action that the Church of England should take.” The CofE governs itself with powers delegated from Parliament. Its rules have force primarily through ‘Measures’ which are Acts of Parliament created through a special mechanism by which General Synod proposes a… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

I have two concerns with this Response and re-Draft. First, and in general, it seems to maintain, largely unquestioned, the original Draft Covenant. There is some criticism of form, and a little tweaking, but the total is largely accepted. Second, and as a consequence, it maintains centralization of authority in the transnational Instruments of Communion, and displacement of the ACC by the Primates Meeting as the most important place for decision making. This is reinforced in the Reponse by acknowledging as an open question whether the Communion is formed of dioceses relating through national churches or of individual dioceses that… Read more »

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

The Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion appears as the title for the celebration of the Eucharist in 1662 and The Supper of the Lord in article XXV of the 39.

Malcolm+
Guest

Badman said: ‘The CofE version proposes that the Primates will offer only “guidance” (not “direction”) and on how serious dispute “may” be resolved (not “must” be resolved). The Primates are not being given power, only influence. Elsewhere, section 5(5) expressly disclaims any “central legislative or executive authority”. 6(5) says the Instruments of Communion “have no juridical or executive authority in our Provinces”, although they are granted “a spiritual, pastoral and doctrinal authority which commands our respect”.” Indeed, this is better than that appallingly anti-Anglican draft. But it also reflects that precise level of authority that the Primates singularly, collectively and… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

Pluralist —
Agreed — Marshall makes some excellent points!

See also:
http://jintoku.blogspot.com/2008/01/i-was-just-reading-through-church-of.html

The idea that the WWAC is a collection of dioceses rather than provinces makes the authority of the primates seem irrational

The idea that the ACC is more representative of the clergy & laity than the other Instruments being a problems is also absurd — since it is the only Instrument to include them, OF COURSE it is!

Is there a writer’s strike going on outside the USA as well?

badman
Guest
badman

Making the diocese rather than the province the link to the Anglican Communion allows e.g. Nigerian bishops who want to go to Lambeth and stay in the Anglican Communion to do so even though Akinola doesn’t. It allows Bishop Mwamba of Botswana to stay even if the Provice of Central Africa doesn’t. And so on. It’s not just about San Joaquin.

Prior Aelred
Guest

badman on Friday, 4 January 2008 at 10:54am GMT —

No, it is not just about San Joaquin — it is a church destroying principle & totally unprecedented canonically in the WWAC (let’s see the ABC content if Rochester “leaves” the C of E to join the Nigerian church).

JCF
Guest
JCF

“The idea that the WWAC is a collection of dioceses rather than provinces makes the authority of the primates seem irrational” Touche’, Prior A! 😉 “Making the diocese rather than the province the link to the Anglican Communion allows e.g. Nigerian bishops who want to go to Lambeth and stay in the Anglican Communion to do so even though Akinola doesn’t.” But badman, as I see it, if Akinola does the above, he *ceases* to be Anglican (therefore making his view irrelevant to the ***Anglican*** Nigerian bishops who wish to attend Lambeth) What other “thinking” Anglicans (IMO) have said: if… Read more »