Wednesday, 2 January 2008

CofE response to Draft Anglican Covenant

Updated Wednesday evening

Press Release Church responds to draft Anglican Covenant

Church responds to draft Anglican Covenant

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, as Presidents of the General Synod, have submitted a Church of England Response to the draft Anglican Covenant published last year for discussion around the Anglican Communion.

All Anglican Provinces were invited to comment on the text prepared by the Covenant Design Group chaired by the Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Revd Drexel Gomez. The Church of England’s response follows a General Synod debate on the principle of an Anglican Covenant in July 2007, when the following motion was carried.

‘That this Synod:

(a) affirm its willingness to engage positively with the unanimous recommendation of the Primates in February 2007 for a process designed to produce a covenant for the Anglican Communion;

(b) note that such a process will only be concluded when any definitive text has been duly considered through the synodical processes of the provinces of the Communion; and

(c) invite the Presidents, having consulted the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council, to agree the terms of a considered response to the draft from the Covenant Design Group for submission to the Anglican Communion Office by the end of the year.’

The text of the response has been overseen by the House of Bishops’ Theological Group and builds on the earlier work of the Faith and Order Advisory Group. The draft response was discussed by the House of Bishops in October and by the Archbishops’ Council in November.

The Covenant Design Group will be meeting at the end of January to consider all Provincial responses. A ‘take note’ debate on the Church of England response to the Anglican Covenant is planned for the General Synod in February 2008.
—-

The text of the response can be found here, as an RTF file.

Update
An html version of the entire document can now be found here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 12:05pm GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

Is the Archbishop of the West Indies still on the drafting group? If so, he should resign NOW. Or the General Synod of the Church of England should manifest some courage in the face of ++Cantuar's moral blackmail to 'ask' for his removal.

Posted by: Commentator on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 12:55pm GMT

Drafting by committee is notoriously difficult, but this response is astonishingly successful in improving the substance and form of the draft text. It makes general points but then puts forward specific wording in every case.

Of course, some of it will be controversial, but a Covenant along these lines could be a genuinely useful and inspiring resource for the Communion.

Among the booby traps (but most of it is on a much higher level than such traps) are the trail that, in future, the Communion may be based on the diocese and not on the province, and the flat refusal to accept direction for the Church of England from the Primates ("unlawful") as opposed to highly qualified "guidance".

Posted by: badman on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 1:14pm GMT

I am outraged and also bewildered by the CofE response. How any "church" could allow for the 'intervention" of other bodies into their corporate bodies is beyond me. I believe their will be otherwise thinking before the end of this year on that point, when +Rochester, etc start pulling their diocese closer to the Global South Junta.

Posted by: Jeffrey Allison on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 1:58pm GMT

Am I correctly reading this as: 1. a strong affirmnation of the primates, to function for the Anglican Communion in similar manner to the magisterium of the Roman Catholics? 2. The Primates to function as an executive committee for the Lambeth Conference? 3. Identification of "communion" on a diocese by diocese basis rather than by national church and 4. Membership in the communion defined by the Archbishop of Canterbury?

It appears that, although defining membership might be the responsibility of Canterbury, the "type" of membership (full, constitituent, two tieredetc.) could be at the discretion of the primates in their "executive/doctrinal" capacity for Lambeth?

Canterbury thus maintains the look of a a CEO and has some executive power, the rights of a convener, but de facto has turned over much power to the primates? Both +Cantauar and the Primates appear to have their roles strengthened, particulary with the change of "moral" authority to doctrinal authority to the primates? I could use some help here dissecting the meaning of all this?

Posted by: EPfizH on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 2:14pm GMT

On a very quick initial reading:
On the whole this seems to be a move in the right direction (given the momentum which says we have to have a covenant at all).

There are curious observations (Comment 5) about dioceses, as opposed to the 38 National Church bodies, being the constituent members of the Communion - implying that San Joaquin could be in the AC if TEC wasn't, for example, or that the Diocese of Manchester could be in but the Diocese of Liverpool out. Yet the later statement that bishops exercise their ministry within the whole church (Comment 23) would seem to answer this. However I had thought the question of who constituted the AC was determined by the ACC.

It is good to see ecumenical concerns being asserted (Comment 31); a more balanced approach to the Instruments of Unity and especially the ACC (22-28); and (34)the proposal to ban (with limited exceptions) intrusion by one Province in the jurisdiction of another.

The most significant point, I believe, is Comment 33: the CofE cannot legally be directed by any other body. Therefore the Communion (unless the CofE is expelled) will remain one of autonomous Churches.

The capacity to expel recalcitrant members remains in this submission, but at first view it is not clear that this is much more than is now implicit in the ACC capacity to admit members.

Posted by: Paul Bagshaw on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 2:27pm GMT

While there is much to comment on regarding the "political" interaction of provinces, etc., etc., I want to point out what in our tradition is a significant theological error:

" Due administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Supper of the Lord ordained by Christ himself, ministered with the unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution, and of the elements ordained by him."

"The Supper of the Lord" is (and was) NOT a sacrament! The Last Supper was a "farewell banquet" for the disciples of Jesus. The Holy Eucharist (to which this sentence refers) could not BE a Eucharist until the Lord had died, risen, and ascended! "The Supper of the Lord" is a wholly Protestant and anti-Catholic phrase, implying that the Holy Eucharist is nothing more than a memorial of the Last Supper.

Secondly, the requirement of the "the unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution" is nothing but Tridentine propaganda! It was not something demanded in the most ancient eucharistic rites - notably the very ancient Chaldean Liturgy of Addai and Mari which does not include the Words of Institution (and which, nevertheless, has been given formal approval by the Vatican). I cannot imagine why this peculiar requirement was included in the text of an Anglican Covenant since there has never been an issue over the matter among Anglicans.

Posted by: John-Julian,OJN on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 2:40pm GMT

Some comments reading through...

They'd better sort out the "more than theoretical question" whether it is national Churches that belong or the dioeceses. The Archbishop of Canterbury seems to think it is dioeces.

On biblical texts: "They suggest a way of handling the biblical material that not all Anglicans share" Phew! Tell that to the Advent Letter!

"arguably the Covenant requires a more ‘minimalist’ approach" I can think of a much more minimalist approach.

Then there is this:

"From a Church of England perspective, Stephen Slack has confirmed that it would be unlawful for the General Synod to delegate its decision making powers to the Primates, and that this therefore means that it could not sign up to a Covenant which purported to give the Primates of the Communion the ability to give 'direction' about the course of action that the Church of England should take."

Well that just about throws the Advent Letter into contradiction! Indeed, it rather restrains the purpose of a Covenant doesn't it. TEC is independent, the C of E is independent. Aren't they all? What's the point?

"[We commit ourselves] to refrain from intervening in the life of other Anglican churches (sc. provinces) except in extraordinary circumstances where such intervention has been specifically authorised by the relevant Instruments of Communion."

But then this must mean a centralised communion setting up competitive institutions. A Church says no, can't be interfered with, the Instruments of Communion say yes, and it then pokes its nose in but has to set up another body and remove the existing one from the Covenant because the one that says no cannot itself be interfered with!

How is this, below, different from not delegating its decision making powers to the Communion?

"we commit ourselves to accept the patterns of discipline involved in being part of the Anglican Covenant."

So the C of E makes its edits, and then there are other edits from elsewhere. This is going to take some doing, this agreement, isn't it? And none of this takes into account the new situation. I bet GAFCON wastes no time in shoving out an equivalent of the Covenant!

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 3:09pm GMT

It appears that this is more than just the response from the CofE and that the revised Covenant from the Design Group begins on page 15. Is this the new draft covenant?

Posted by: Jlucas on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 3:22pm GMT

"From a Church of England perspective, Stephen Slack has confirmed that it would be unlawful for the General Synod to delegate its decision making powers to the Primates, and that this therefore means that it could not sign up to a Covenant which purported to give the Primates of the Communion the ability to give ‘direction’ about the course of action that the Church of England should take."

Interesting.

Posted by: Charlotte on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 3:40pm GMT

Ok I think the sentence "A revision of the text from the Covenant Design Group in the light of the points made in the commentary" means that the text, not the revision, is from the Covenant Design Group. The revision is from Abp of Canterbury and York. So much for clarity of language.

Posted by: Jlucas on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 3:57pm GMT

I still maintain thaqt the whole idea of a covenant is a bit of well-intentioned stupidity - if we can meet we need no covenant; if we cannot meet no covenant can help.

That said, this commentary from the CofE makes a number of worthwhile points - particularly about the way in which the agenda-ridden drafters have tried to impose particular views as being definitive for Anglicans. These range from the reasonably straightforward (ie the number of sacraments) to the more oblique (ie how ethical guidance is derived from scripture.

But my favourite part was the simple affirmation that granting the Primates the power to "direct" would make it illegal for the Church of England to subscribe.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 7:01pm GMT

John-Julian - they are using the language of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. See pp. 877-878 of the American BCP. Even though it is in historical documents section, it is pretty definitive for our ecumenical dialogues and therefore still the point of reference for relationships with other churches.

I'm heartened that there is more effort in this draft to use the Quadrilateral and its elements for relationships among the provinces.

Posted by: Dirk on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 7:05pm GMT

Gosh! What a lot of interesting stuff – those of us that have been away/sick or hibernating over Christmas/New Year have a lot to review!!

Pluralist has hit the Achilles heel of this English review.

Having been given the expected advice that England cannot even appear to give up any decision making to an outside body -
How can they then advocate for an outside body to be given the authority to intervene in the affairs of the Church of England even if it is – “specifically authorised by the relevant Instruments of Communion.” ?
Or does the phrase “other Anglican provinces” (Paragraph 34) actually mean what it says?!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 8:39pm GMT

In the catechism of the '79 BCP it also indicates that "Lord's Supper" is simply a synonym for "Mass" or "Divine Liturgy" (among others). We clearly believe this was instituted by Christ. Whether the actual Last Supper was or was not a Eucharist is not addressed in the draft Covenant or the U.S. BCP as near as I can tell.

Posted by: Robert Leduc on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 9:15pm GMT

It seems that this paragraph has caused a good bit of comment, and I was less than explicit in my own remarks. Might I try again?

"From a Church of England perspective, Stephen Slack has confirmed that it would be unlawful for the General Synod to delegate its decision making powers to the Primates, and that this therefore means that it could not sign up to a Covenant which purported to give the Primates of the Communion the ability to give ‘direction’ about the course of action that the Church of England should take."

Simon (or other knowledgeable persons) could help me out here or correct me if I am wrong. But my understanding is this: Given the special position of the Church of England in the British Constitution, it would not be lawful for a foreign body (the Primates) to "direct" or otherwise assume authority over its decisions, as that would infringe on the rights of the Crown.

So that although the ancient statute of Praemunire is no longer in effect, the core or kernel of that law apparently does continue as a principle of British constitutional law.

Again, please correct me if I am wrong in whole or part.

Posted by: Charlotte on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 11:18pm GMT

I've basically been with Malcolm+ all along on this Covenant idea -- if you need it, it won't work & if you don't need it, why bother? After all, the Gaffe-Con primates already aren't in Communion with the rest & no new rules can be composed that everyone will agree to that can change that.

TEC already pointed out that he can't legally allow people outside the church to exercise jurisdiction over it -- now ditto the C of E (which point I made long ago -- this involves the Royal Prerogative & doubtless support in Parliament as well).

As to defining the WWAC -- a good question! The ACC determines the membership of the ACC. The two English Primates jointly determine the guest list to Lambeth, but Lambeth customarily includes some non-Anglicans like the Swedes & Old Catholics, IIRC -- nevertheless some Anglicans have sometimes refused to attend & the ABC has agreed that Gene Robinson is a bishop of TEC in good standing who has not been invited (thus a Lambeth invite doesn't necessarily establish your kosher Anglican creds).

From its conception, membership in the WWAC has been by province -- usually, but not necessarily corresponding to a nation-state, but there are the extra-provincial members -- perhaps the ABC wants to be clear not to exclude them (I don't believe that myself -- sadly the ABC is just looking weak & foolish simultaneously).

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 11:58pm GMT

Fr. John Julian,

"Last Supper" and "Lord's Supper" are not technically the same thing theologically. The Supper of the Lord is that Supper at which Christ feeds us his own self. Some of our Lutheran kin, who tend to have a higher understanding of Real Presence than Anglicans enforce, use that term precisely this way, and it is only because of Zwinglian influences, I suspect, that we might not see it thus as Anglicans. "The Supper of the Lord" is quite distinct from the Last Supper, which as you point out was not a sacrament.

Posted by: Christopher on Thursday, 3 January 2008 at 3:26am GMT

Surely the idea that Parliament can be usurped in the governance of its state Church is unconstitutional and challengable in the Privy Council.

Surely Parliament would have to consent to the Church of England subscribing to the Covenant?

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Thursday, 3 January 2008 at 8:29am GMT

Charlotte

I hope you are right.

One of things that has struck me in the debate over the last few months is about the calls to submit to the authorities, when the sub-text reads "submit to OUR interpretation".

Luke 12:10-12 "And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

Romans 13, which includes "...rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you... Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law...."

Ephesians 6:12 "...our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms..."

Colossians 1:15-17 "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

Titus 3:1-2 "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men."

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Thursday, 3 January 2008 at 9:38am GMT

The CofE version proposes that the Primates will offer only "guidance" (not "direction") and on how serious dispute "may" be resolved (not "must" be resolved). The Primates are not being given power, only influence.

Elsewhere, section 5(5) expressly disclaims any "central legislative or executive authority". 6(5) says the Instruments of Communion "have no juridical or executive authority in our Provinces", although they are granted "a spiritual, pastoral and doctrinal authority which commands our respect".

Those who flout the covenant are not expelled, they will be subjected to "a process of restoration and renewal" which is "required to re-establish their covenant relationship". So if you breach the covenant, you are in breach, obviously. And we all think again ("restoration and renewal").

The covenant is a lot bigger than these bits, but I think even these bits are fine.

And, you know, that Stephen Slack thing - I'm sure he's wrong about that. And I'm sure Gordon Brown would give the CofE any independence it wanted even if he isn't wrong. So this is really just a big, magisterial brush off from the CofE on the idea of a Bully Communion. Which is good, surely?

Posted by: badman on Thursday, 3 January 2008 at 10:31am GMT

"From a Church of England perspective, Stephen Slack has confirmed that it would be unlawful for the General Synod to delegate its decision making powers to the Primates, and that this therefore means that it could not sign up to a Covenant which purported to give the Primates of the Communion the ability to give ‘direction’ about the course of action that the Church of England should take."

The CofE governs itself with powers delegated from Parliament. Its rules have force primarily through 'Measures' which are Acts of Parliament created through a special mechanism by which General Synod proposes a law and Parliament can accept or refuse it (and from time to time does refuse). Other, lesser, rules may be agreed within the Church without Parliament but only Measures have uncontestable legal standing.

Any group which actually or theoretically could direct the CofE to act or not act is therefore a contradiction of the power of Parliament, not of the power of the Church.

The choice is: either disestablish and be both independent and autonomous (which would give General Synod the power to give its autonomy away to another body, e.g. the Primates) or remain in this cosy relationship with the state.

CofE leadership has never favoured disestablishment partly, but not wholly, because it carries the probablity of disendowment and of expensive court cases to establish how much money the state would take back (as in the Church in Wales). Since the 1840s the goal has consistently been freedom for the Church to conduct its own affairs with the lightest Parliamentary constraint, the continued standing of the Church in the country (of which bishops in the House of Lords is just a prominent part), and at no risk to its assets.

Of course a compliant and deferential General Synod can probably be 'advised' to do almost anything the Primates want even without power of direction.

Parliament or Primates? Just not autonomy.

Posted by: Paul Bagshaw on Thursday, 3 January 2008 at 12:07pm GMT

I have two concerns with this Response and re-Draft. First, and in general, it seems to maintain, largely unquestioned, the original Draft Covenant. There is some criticism of form, and a little tweaking, but the total is largely accepted.

Second, and as a consequence, it maintains centralization of authority in the transnational Instruments of Communion, and displacement of the ACC by the Primates Meeting as the most important place for decision making. This is reinforced in the Reponse by acknowledging as an open question whether the Communion is formed of dioceses relating through national churches or of individual dioceses that may relate independently of national churches. The result overall is to undercut the authority of national churches in favor of the Instruments.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Thursday, 3 January 2008 at 2:15pm GMT

The Lord's Supper or Holy Communion appears as the title for the celebration of the Eucharist in 1662 and The Supper of the Lord in article XXV of the 39.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Thursday, 3 January 2008 at 2:23pm GMT

Badman said: 'The CofE version proposes that the Primates will offer only "guidance" (not "direction") and on how serious dispute "may" be resolved (not "must" be resolved). The Primates are not being given power, only influence. Elsewhere, section 5(5) expressly disclaims any "central legislative or executive authority". 6(5) says the Instruments of Communion "have no juridical or executive authority in our Provinces", although they are granted "a spiritual, pastoral and doctrinal authority which commands our respect"."


Indeed, this is better than that appallingly anti-Anglican draft.

But it also reflects that precise level of authority that the Primates singularly, collectively and indisputably have right now:

* the power to guide and influence - but not to direct,
* spiritual, pastoral and doctrinal authority which commands our respect - but not our submission.

Further evidence that the entire Covenant is nothing but an enormous waste of energy.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Thursday, 3 January 2008 at 7:07pm GMT

I rather agree with this chap:

http://episcopalhospitalchaplain.blogspot.com/2008/01/williams-new-ecclesiology-and-draft.html

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 3 January 2008 at 8:16pm GMT

Pluralist --
Agreed -- Marshall makes some excellent points!

See also:
http://jintoku.blogspot.com/2008/01/i-was-just-reading-through-church-of.html

The idea that the WWAC is a collection of dioceses rather than provinces makes the authority of the primates seem irrational

The idea that the ACC is more representative of the clergy & laity than the other Instruments being a problems is also absurd -- since it is the only Instrument to include them, OF COURSE it is!

Is there a writer's strike going on outside the USA as well?

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Friday, 4 January 2008 at 12:32am GMT

Making the diocese rather than the province the link to the Anglican Communion allows e.g. Nigerian bishops who want to go to Lambeth and stay in the Anglican Communion to do so even though Akinola doesn't. It allows Bishop Mwamba of Botswana to stay even if the Provice of Central Africa doesn't. And so on. It's not just about San Joaquin.

Posted by: badman on Friday, 4 January 2008 at 10:54am GMT

badman on Friday, 4 January 2008 at 10:54am GMT --

No, it is not just about San Joaquin -- it is a church destroying principle & totally unprecedented canonically in the WWAC (let's see the ABC content if Rochester "leaves" the C of E to join the Nigerian church).

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Friday, 4 January 2008 at 3:47pm GMT

"The idea that the WWAC is a collection of dioceses rather than provinces makes the authority of the primates seem irrational"

Touche', Prior A! ;-)

"Making the diocese rather than the province the link to the Anglican Communion allows e.g. Nigerian bishops who want to go to Lambeth and stay in the Anglican Communion to do so even though Akinola doesn't."

But badman, as I see it, if Akinola does the above, he *ceases* to be Anglican (therefore making his view irrelevant to the ***Anglican*** Nigerian bishops who wish to attend Lambeth)

What other "thinking" Anglicans (IMO) have said: if there's really an Anglican *Communion*, there's no need for a Covenant---if there isn't, no Covenant can make a Communion.

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 1:08am GMT
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