Wednesday, 20 June 2007

GS: Anglican Covenant Proposal - Annex 3

Annex 3 of GS 1661, the paper by Dr Martin Davie, is now available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 20 June 2007 at 1:00pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: General Synod
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_We have experience of making covenants with our ecumenical partners; why should there not be appropriate commitments which we can freely and honestly make with one another._ November 2004, Archbishop of Canterbury

I've seen the paper before but this within it struck me. The point is that these other Churches, with which a covenant is made, are different, and the difference is recognised and incorporated, but I doubt that this Covenant would recognise difference, describe it properly and regard it as legitimate.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 20 June 2007 at 3:01pm BST

A covenant which is made voluntarily between equal partners to commit themselves to joint action and greater communion is to be welcomed.

But (a) Anglicans are already a single entity; (b) the Draft Covenant envisages a new legal constitution for Anglicanism and should be named and debated as such; (c) it does not propose voluntary co-operation but central direction and control; (d) it is not widely owned and welcomed but an ecclesiastical coup d'état.

Free and honest agreements, by contrast, are to be welcomed.

Posted by: Paul Bagshaw on Wednesday, 20 June 2007 at 5:10pm BST

Martin Davie summarises thus:
“We cannot simply continue as we are. We do need to find some way of dealing with the ecclesiological deficit within Anglicanism in order to prevent the sort of crisis facing Anglicanism at the moment continuing to recur in the future. Neither pretending that there is not really a crisis nor simply seeking to return to the status quo before the present crisis erupted are viable options. The development of a mutually agreed covenant provides us with a potentially creative way forward and therefore, if possible, this is the route that the Anglican Communion needs to take."

I find this quite helpful.

Dr Davie echoes much of the thinking that has governed the analysis and helped form the response to the differences within our family of Churches.

But I would say that even if one was minded to accept what he says about “ecclesiological deficit” – and think his list of alternative responses fair and exhaustive – there are many more “creative” ways forward than that offered by this “Covenant”.

I struggle to think of this document as a “Covenant” in the first place. I perfectly understand why it has been dubbed such, but it is surely something different. It has more the qualities of a very rare post-nuptial contract – “one which specifies the responsibilities, duties and obligations, etc, of each spouse during a marriage” – but even this analogy fails rather spectacularly! For this “Covenant” contract appears to me to be retrospectively replacing the marriage vows rather than sorting out differences that arise thereafter.

At one level I have no problem with the Anglican Communion of Churches redefining their “marriage contract”. Indeed if after all this time all that can muster are partly broken “bonds of affection” rather than a relationship of deep and abiding Christian love – then they do need some help and none of his should be happy with this parlous state. But I think the present document unlikely to answer our relational problems, rather it will exacerbate them.
(More follows)

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 21 June 2007 at 12:53pm BST

(Cont.)
A few years ago I met PB Venables on a visit to Wales. He told me that at Primates Group they did not have a common language of respect to discus the presenting issue and that Rowan was therefore not willing to have it discussed. Creating fresh boundaries within which respectful discussion can take place is a successful device – but I am not alone in thinking that filling an “ecclesiological deficit” with this “Covenant” will provide the sort of boundaries likely to engender respect or help find a “common language”.

Lesbian and gay Anglicans should especially be willing to embrace a proper relational Covenant for our world wide family of Churches – if one should appear. We are committed to seeing the Covenanted Love in our relationships embraced by our Churches. We know through this Covenanted Love how central and holy these most intimate relationships are to wellbeing of individuals and their relations with God, each other and His Church.

Unsurprisingly I would write the history of the Anglican debacle somewhat differently to Dr Davie and come to a different conclusion as to the way forward. I believe that if we lived in a family of Churches that could fully embrace this much quoted part of the Dromantine Communiqué we might be able to find a Covenant to help move us forward:
“The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.”

We are not there yet by a long way and I believe this “Covenant” will not help us get there. Only when we are there should we be looking for a Covenant to proclaim our love and aspirations of unity. We need mechanisms that allow that to happen – they are not here - where are they?

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 21 June 2007 at 12:54pm BST
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