Chris Sugden and Vinay Samuel have written an article for this week’s Church of England Newspaper entitled Truth or Conviction: questions over the Anglican Communion Covenant. Here’s how it starts:
Many primates have indicated that they cannot support the Covenant in its present form. The African Primates said in Entebbe in August : “We realise the need for further improvement of the Covenant in order to be an effective tool for unity and mutual accountability.”
In April the Global South meeting said: “We are currently reviewing the proposed Covenant to find ways to strengthen it in order for it to fulfill its purpose. For example, we believe that all those who adopt the Covenant must be in compliance with Lambeth 1.10. Meanwhile we recognize that the Primates Meeting, being responsible for Faith and Order, should be the body to oversee the Covenant in its implementation, not the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.”
Why the reticence?
And the article concludes:
The current Covenant process interminably delays judgement and leaves little hope of discipline and thus of consistency. We are left in a permanent state of dialogue and conversation. This has practical implications at parish level when churches have to decide how to relate to same-sex couples requesting blessing and bringing surrogate children for baptism. If the covenant process in the Communion becomes the state of affairs in the Church of England, its practices could be so contradictory that chaos would result. Endless appeal could be made to conviction, openness, listening and time while practices and actions continue which go against the teaching of the church whether in a parish or whole diocese.
The above argument could therefore suggest abstention in the vote in General Synod next week for the following reasons:
The Communion needs recognition of orthodox teaching and for proper and appropriate boundaries. The Covenant does not achieve that purpose but substitutes conviction for truth. Some wish to travel further in the direction in which the Covenant is supposed to point, but do not wish to support the very weak approach of the current Covenant. Where the current Anglican Communion process is going today could be used to allow for English Dioceses to move in TEC’s direction tomorrow on the grounds that this is accepted Anglican practice.