Thinking Anglicans

Anglican Covenant: more criticism

The General Synod of the Church of England will debate the proposed Anglican Covenant on Wednesday 24 November.

Paul Bagshaw has recently written several articles about this on his blog, Not the same stream.

First, there was A dishonest Covenant.

In July 2007 I wrote a paper called Bouncing the Covenant through the Anglican Communion (here) which looked at the way the Covenant was to be pushed through.

In retrospect I was wrong about one thing – I had calculated that the majority of Provinces would have endorsed the Covenant by this year, 2010, so that the Church of England would be faced with a fait accompli. In fact the majority of Provinces still have to decide whether or not to accept the Covenant…

That was followed by English and Welsh Bishops.

About the English ones, he writes:

…There is a mix of loyalty (and not wanting to seem publicly disloyal) with a generation of bishops trained into the collective mould (both senses) by having individuality trained out of them: mini-princes in their own domains and courtiers on the larger stage. I’m not sure that government by nineteenth-century unaccountable autocrats was any better (and there was a different structure of checks and balances in place). However, the result today is that the bishops have become like a one-party state: divisions are kept within the club, the public face must be united. (Unless, of course, you retire to Rome, but that’s a different story.)

However that’s assuming there has been structured debate in which differences of episcopal opinion have even been aired. There was, of course, discussion at the Lambeth Conference. I’m not at all sure what debate has been had within the English college of bishops – not that I would know, you understand, one way or the other. But I am led to believe that the new Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council – the other half of implementing the Covenant – went through on the nod.

In A richer Covenant, he discusses in detail the South African approach to the subject. He says:

The sadness from my perspective is that Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has a rich understanding of covenant and its potential, a vision I would delight in – but unfortunately it’s a vision I don’t see in the Anglican Covenant on offer today.

And finally (for the moment) he is critical of Kenneth Kearon’s action in disciplining the Southern Cone. See Utterly negative.

For background, see these pages, starting with A very un-Anglican Covenant.

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Father Ron Smith

“The Covenant grew from a desire to expel TEC from the Anglican Communion – an exercise of force, not the recognition that opponents seek the good of the community – and ‘who started it’ is the politics of the playground, not of an adult community. The process by which the covenant has come about is deeply anti-participatory.” – Paul Bagshaw, on ‘A Richer Covenant’. When one looks into the origins of the Covenant idea, one need look no further than those who have not been able to live with the prophetic call of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada,… Read more »