The Church Times published a leader column yesterday, Have the Mexicans started a wave?
This argues the desirability of seeking a supermajority of votes in the CofE General Synod:
…The records of the recent House of Bishops meeting, released this week, show that the House agreed not to propose special majorities when it comes to the vote in the General Synod. The decision is surprising, given the impact that the Covenant might have on the Church of England. Although the text contains no mechanical means whereby one province can influence the deliberations of another, it will obviously change matters to know that a decision might result in some form of severance from the Communion mainstream. This might not be a bad thing — greater responsiveness to each other is, after all, the object of the Covenant — but it will be a different thing.
As matters now stand, the implications if a province decides not to endorse the Covenant are unknown. The Covenant Working Group concluded that, in such an eventuality, “there should be the flexibility for the Instruments of Communion to determine an appropriate response in the evolving situation.” In other words, the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates’ Meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and, if time drags on, the Lambeth Conference would have to make something up. The C of E is not any old province, however, and were it to reject the Covenant, it is hard to see the project surviving. At the very least, the Archbishop of Canterbury would find it hard to support the Covenant without the backing of his Church. As so much rests on the vote, a two-thirds majority in the Synod would provide a clearer endorsement.
Paul Bagshaw has published an article today, Why the Covenant won’t work.
The Covenant will work in all sorts of ways, of course, some intended some predictable if unintended.
What it won’t do and can’t do, is what it says on the tin. It cannot ‘prevent and manage’ disputes:
This Commission believes that the case for adoption of an Anglican Covenant is overwhelming:
* The Anglican Communion cannot again afford, in every sense, the crippling prospect of repeated worldwide inter-Anglican conflict such as that engendered by the current crisis. Given the imperfections of our communion and human nature, doubtless there will be more disagreements. It is our shared responsibility to have in place an agreed mechanism to enable and maintain life in communion, and to prevent and manage communion disputes. (Windsor Report §119)
The reason it cannot ‘prevent and manage’ disputes is simple. If the Covenant mechanisms can be applied retrospectively (which is effectively what is being attempted) then these mechanisms are applied as it were from the outside of the dispute. They step in like courts and police to adjudicate and enforce an outcome – in this case the expulsion (in whole or part) of the offending members of the Communion…
A few days ago, he also published Just what will the Covenant cost?