Monday, 11 June 2007

MCU responds on the Anglican Covenant

The Modern Churchpeople’s Union opposes the Draft Anglican Covenant and urges its rejection.

Jonathan Clatworthy, Paul Bagshaw and John Saxbee, Bishop of Lincoln, have prepared a detailed response to The Draft Anglican Covenant on behalf of the MCU.

Three documents are available here in several formats:

  • Response (prepared for the meeting of General Synod in July 2007 and submitted to the Anglican Communion Office as MCU’s response to the consultation) in Word, .rtf, .pdf
  • 2 page summary of the paper in Word, .rtf, .pdf
  • Summary of the arguments (prepared as a more general briefing) in Word, .rtf, .pdf

The Response concludes:

We oppose the Draft Anglican Covenant on the grounds that:

  • it would transform the Windsor process from admonition and counsel into an unprecedented and unjustifiable ecclesiastical coup d’état;
  • its central proposal is to transfer power from the presently autonomous Provinces to a Meeting of the 38 Primates. The ambiguity of the text leaves open the possibility that this power would be unlimited, unaccountable, and irreversible;
  • the consequences of this development for Anglican theology and polity, and for ecumenical agreements, would be extensive and have scarcely been explored;
  • the proposed innovation in granting juridical power to the Primates’ Meeting would be a distortion and not a legitimate development in Anglican ecclesiology;
  • the consultative processes and timetable are wholly inadequate and in particular they completely marginalise the voice of the laity;
  • the proposals have not been adequately justified in their own terms (the creation of trust) nor in the wider terms of better ordering and facilitating the mission of the Church;
  • and yet Anglicanism has a rich storehouse of dispersed authority, of hospitality, mutual respect and trusting co-operation, of valuing difference and openness to new developments, of the honest and open search for truth, all of which can provide an alternative to the Draft Anglican Covenant as grounds for hope for the future.
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England
Comments

When did the Lambeth Quadrilateral cease to be a basis for communion? Is it missing something essential to faith?

Also, what happened to Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi? I thought that everything we believe is in our liturgy.

If we're going to be a confessional church, maybe the American Episcopal church should join the Lutherans. Maybe instead of being a province of the Anglican Communion, we could be a province of the Lutheran Federation. We seem to get along with them better.

Posted by: James on Monday, 11 June 2007 at 3:26pm BST

A most welcome response from MCU

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Monday, 11 June 2007 at 5:00pm BST

Would either TA or a group in Synod please set up an online petition for the rejection of an Anglican Covenant?

Posted by: Neil on Monday, 11 June 2007 at 5:06pm BST

The draft covenant is the third in a series of documents that, if implemented, would bring TEC into the Roman Catholic Church within a generation. The first, The Gift of Authority, is about a decade old. It was issued by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) but was deemed not an authoritative declaration of either the Roman Catholic Church or the Anglican communion. Typical of what we see now, however, the ARCIC consisted only of clergy and non-Americans, save one lay member from America. The majority of the clergy were from state churches.

ARCIC concluded in The Gift of Authority that the Anglican Communion could submit itself to the authority of the Bishop of Rome even before the two were ecumenically fully merged.

Now we have the Anglican primates in Tanzania assuming powers they do not have making demands on TEC. When the draft covenant is added to the two previous documents, it is clear, whether coordinated or not, that there is a movement towards an Anglican hierarchy that could relatively easily merge with the Roman Church.

If there any strong reason to remain engaged with the Archbishop of Canterbury? Are we not wasted precious time, treasure and talent trying to maintain a facade of communion. What if all those resources had been spent advancing the mission of Christ? I am not convinced at this time that there is a strong reason to remain engaged, unless it is to unite with Canada, the Scots, and many others who are not prepared to submit to a greater hierarchy.

Posted by: Bill Weems on Monday, 11 June 2007 at 5:51pm BST

Sounds good to me, Bill. We need something new - without the conservatives.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 11 June 2007 at 8:49pm BST

Yeah for the proposed petition - I'll sign!

Posted by: jeremy pemberton on Monday, 11 June 2007 at 10:20pm BST

It's looking more and more like organisational politics.

A part of the organisation that used to have a high level or autonomy and power is finding that new technology is leading to alternative communication and decision making channels. Worse, they are actually working without their input or control.

A change management expert would say that these souls need counselling to understand the new world order, and assistance in becoming reskilled in how to cope in the new environment with the new technologies.

While we are pulling out the Counsellor, could someone work out how to get the military machines career paths devoted to ploughshares rather than weapons of mass destruction and working out who to insult or blockade to justify starting the next war to keep their "careers" stable? Could we also send some Counsellors to the "oil age" dynasties' heirs so that they can come to terms with losing the power base that gave their family excessive indulgences? Could someone also spell out the warning signs of those who are becoming suicidally depressed at facing the new world order and ways to curtail their endeavours to collectively drag the world into their personal misery?

We need leaders who understand that we need paradigms that are flexible, pragratic, compassionate, diverse. The times of one power source suits all are coming to an end. We move into a new era where we need to be able to cope with mulitiple solutions, integrating different inputs so that there is effective communication and distribution. For sustainabiilty, we need resiliency, which means diversity. So we might as well get used to the idea that not everyone is going to look like us or agree with us on everything, and learn how to use some manners so that we don't embarass our parents or ourselves.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 1:08am BST

It is a good idea. I would sign. I'm naturally rather pleased that the Bishop of Lincoln has gone on the record in favour of stopping this thing.

You can just imagine the debates if something ever gets launched. It would be so divisive that the obvious counsel is to pack it in before it does the damage.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 3:55am BST

I would gladly sign a petition to stop the covenant, for all the reasons I have read since it was put up for our responses. But more proactively, I would sign a petition to replace it with a compact along the lines of the one Mark Harris has posted on his blog Preludium, including suggestions by the commentors thereon. I regret I still remain ignorant of how to link to Mark's post. Maybe someone else will be interested enough to do so.
Peace,
Lois Keen

Posted by: Lois Keen on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 10:49am BST

Pluralist - you are so right. The sooner this is stopped the better, as it will amount to a pastoral as well as a theological issue. I will be writing to the Bishop of Lincoln, and hope someone somewhere (I'm not really MCU but maybe we need new alliances these days) can launch some sort of petition. The odd thing is that I was with a group of clergy last night and only one out of 9 had heard anything about a new Covenant. Not everybody reads blogs - or the Church Times for that matter!

Posted by: Neil on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 10:54am BST

Machiavelli, he say - was this also foreseen by the ABC? That just as the great GS coalition is proving flaky, so the 'covenant' idea falls apart under its own contradictions?

To quote again from the great Pratchett: "There were many groups plotting his (the Patrician's) down fall, he knew that. Had he not funded them all himself? And the great thing was that they spent all their time quarrelling among themselves."

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 12:27pm BST

Here is the link to Mark Harris's one page Covenant suggestion - http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2007/06/just-idea-compact-among-churches.html

Posted by: PseudoPiskie on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 2:25pm BST

That's an interesting point, Neil. Obviously more read this than care to comment, plus I travel around here and there but confine comments to here, Fulcrum, Faithspace (less so these days) and the NUF Forum. I've been trying to suggest to a fellow church member that she'd pick up more more quickly further afield via having the Internet installed, as well as a way to do her training.

Journalism on to paper does seem to heavily edit, filter out and lose more than it clarifies. To get an item on the Covenant reported by a journalist it would have to be personified, something like...

"An insider" today claims that a certain person will probably have to resign if the Covenant does not go through, whilst opposition is growing rapidly...

What journalists love is a press release with contacts offered, so that more than half the work is done for them. When you look even at TV News you can see where a report has originated from a charity press release, a report concocted from no one in particular, people to interview and places to go (the latter not being a good one for print journalists, who would rather pick up a telephone, read emails or read blogs than go anywhere except to the local pub).

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 2:48pm BST

Rev. Lois,

Mark's+ post is at http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2007/06/just-idea-compact-among-churches.html

Posted by: David H. on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 3:23pm BST


Lois Keen+ suggests Canon Mark Harris/Preludium:

http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/

P.S. Canon Harris is a memeber of TEC Church Executive Council which this week is meeting in New Jersey (and OFFICIALLY governs the Episcopal Church between General Conventions).

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 3:38pm BST

Do English citizens own their national church? Who decides? Parliament? General Synod alone? Deanery Synods? Those who are on a parish electoral roll? What about those who are only nominally Anglican - and non-Anglicans?

The C of E performs state functions, so any transfer of power to an international body ought to require an Act of Parliament and Royal Assent.

Section 5 of the MCU's detailed response has a section on The Church of England:

"As with other Provincial legislatures, if the General Synod signs the Covenant it will subordinate its authority to that of the Primates’ Meeting.

5.1 The Process of adoption of a Covenant

"Should a Covenant be brought to General Synod in its present form it is likely to be subject to Section 8 of the Constitution of the General Synod as ‘providing for’ … ‘a scheme for constitutional union or a permanent and substantial change of relationship between the Church of England and another Christian body’ . This Section requires approval by a majority of Diocesan Synods before General Synod may grant final approval.

"Should the Draft Covenant be passed by the Synod it is highly probable that it would also require Parliamentary approval. At this stage (without a final text or any indication of the character of debate in Diocesan and General Synods) it is impossible to predict what the response of parliamentarians would be.

5.2 Possible implications for the Church of England

"Before General Synod takes such a step it should first explore the implications for its own governance of the Church of England and also for the relationship of Church and State. It is probable that the proposed change in the status of the Church of England in relation to the Anglican Communion will have implications for existing legislation and for the Established nature of the Church of England."

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 5:19pm BST

Try...

A Compact of the Anglican Communion.

Provinces, Dioceses and regional Churches in Communion with the See of Canterbury are the constituent members of the Anglican Communion.

Constituent Members recognise the inheritance of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral which affirms:

1. The Holy Scriptures, containing all things necessary to salvation
2. The Apostles' and Nicene Creeds as the sufficient statement of Christian faith
3. The dominical sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion
4. The historic episcopate, as locally adapted

Constituent members may draw on the faith expressed in liturgical use in the 1549, 1552, 1559, and 1662 Books of Common Prayer of the Church of England, extended to the Books of Worship approved and used by Constituent Members.

Some Churches of different liturgical traditions may be considered for Constituent Membership of the Anglican Communion based on their acceptance of the inheritance of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. They would express their intention to join and then be considered by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) for Constituent Membership.

Every Constituent Member recognises the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion of all other Constituent Members in the Communion. A person ordained and/or consecrated in one part of the communion is respected in another part of the communion and may enjoy participation according to processes of recognition within another Constituent Member.

The Archbishop of Canterbury may invite bishops to join him for purposes of non-binding teaching and counsel to the Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury and ACC together hold the ability to invite Provinces, Dioceses and regional Churches into the Anglican Communion and to expel them according to processes of membership decided by the ACC. A further process of invitation into the ACC by the ACC may take place for Constituent Members also according to processes decided by the ACC. Communion with the See of Canterbury does not guarantee membership in the ACC but absence of Communion with the See of Canterbury does exclude membership in the ACC.

Constituent Members with their ministries may not overlap jurisdictions geographically except for reasons stated by the ACC according to historical, ecumenical or pastoral reasons.

This Compact is effective when received and affirmed by two thirds of the current member Churches of the Anglican Communion according to processes described by the ACC.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 5:54pm BST

""As with other Provincial legislatures, if the General Synod signs the Covenant it will subordinate its authority to that of the Primates’ Meeting. "

To see why the covenant is wrong, if there be any doubt, and assuming the above statement to be true, in place of 'Primate's Meeting' substitute 'Bishop of Rome'.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 6:50pm BST

Thanks for the links to Mark's Just an Idea Compact Among Churches.

It looks quite good but I don't know if this point is achievable "...two churches both in communion with the See of Canterbury and with one another have mutually agreed to continue overlapping ministries".

The words "mutually agreed" appear to be too optimistic. Would there be a mutual agreement to allow a liberal alternative to develop in Sydney, for example?

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 13 June 2007 at 12:17am BST

"in place of 'Primates' Meeting' substitute 'Bishop of Rome'."

"Collective Pontificate" doesn't sound much better.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Wednesday, 13 June 2007 at 10:32am BST

""Collective Pontificate" doesn't sound much better."

No,indeed!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 13 June 2007 at 1:21pm BST
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