Saturday, 11 December 2010

Anglican Covenant - Bishop of Gloucester's synod speech

The speech made at General Synod last month by the Bishop of Gloucester has been reproduced in full at RevdLesley.

Read it all at Bishop of Gloucester - the Indaba Process #nocovenant.

Here is an extract:

I’m one of those who will vote for the motion - with some reluctance. Reluctance because I do fear, despite assurances, that a Covenant could eventually be used in a punitive manner against fellow Anglicans, as well as because of the most general worry that a Covenant may alter the kind of church we are.

Nevertheless, I will vote for the motion for two connected reasons. First, that not to do so is to make more difficult the task of the Archbishop of Canterbury in his ministry to the Communion and I want us to strengthen and not weaken his hand. Second, that the Covenant process keeps us talking, keeps us all in Communion through challenging times. The process helps even if we fear the final outcome. What I really hope is that when we eventually reach the point when it is poised to come into force we shall look at one another and say, ‘What’s this for? We have no need of it.’ And one of the reasons that I hope that this is the outcome is the continued ‘Indaba process’…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 11 December 2010 at 5:09pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England | General Synod
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"First, that not to do so is to make more difficult the task of the Archbishop of Canterbury in his ministry to the Communion and I want us to strengthen and not weaken his hand."

Oh, come ON! Couldn't the Oh-So-Concerned just surprise Rowan Cantuar w/ a stirring round of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow", rather than undermine 1500 years of our Anglican charism (i.e., as does THIS "Anglican Covenant")

IMHO, fidelity to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (over this Covenant) provides, long-term, INFINITELY more support to "the task of the Archbishop of Canterbury in his [and come soon, dear Lord, *her*] ministry to the Communion."

Not buying the guilt-trip, +Gloucester.

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 11 December 2010 at 6:20pm GMT

We don't need the Covenant to keep on talking, and you can't talk to or listen to folks like the GAFCON crowd who refuse to attend the meetings already in place. And I think it's up to the ABC to hunker down and do his job. How will the Covenant help him deal with people who don't want to deal?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Saturday, 11 December 2010 at 8:18pm GMT

I'm inclined to agree with JCF. The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral would meet the needs of a modern Anglican Communion - of Churches that really want to work together on areas of justice and truth. One wonders whether the Covenant, in its present form, will do anything but further divide us.

+Gloucester is being typically gentlemanly and English - in his desire to protect the See of Canterbury, but if the Covenant succeeds it might just exist alone - or at least, without the prophetic voice of the enlightened Provinces!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 11 December 2010 at 8:26pm GMT

I seem to recall that a lot of UK Cabinet members voted for the Iraq war because "not to do so is to make more difficult the task of Tony Blair". They had grave misgivings about the war, but loyalty to the boss was placed above loyalty to the needs of the country.

And now we find that UK Bishops are voting for the Covenant for the same reasons. It does not give me much confidence in the likely outcome.

Simon

Posted by: Simon Dawson on Saturday, 11 December 2010 at 9:22pm GMT

"First, that not to do so is to make more difficult the task of the Archbishop of Canterbury in his ministry to the Communion and I want us to strengthen and not weaken his hand."

So, if/when Abp Rowan bows out and his successor is made in the image and likeness of My Lord Carey, do we still want to strengthen his hand? Shouldn't the possible consequences for the long-term future be considered here, rather than just making it a vote on whether we think Rowan is a nice man who has been having a hard time?

This is feeble reasoning, My Lord of Gloucester, much as it pains one to say this to a fellow Keble man: the Covenant makes Anglicanism into a different type of church from that which it has been hitherto, a church where top-down strong-arm tactics constrain the glorious liberty of the people of God within the moral straitjacket of the 1950s, for ever; or at least until Nigeria and Kenya become places worth modelling any European institutions on.

Can we please have some intelligent liberal-minded church leaders with guts and clear voices?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Saturday, 11 December 2010 at 9:58pm GMT

I too, found the bishop's statement about his reasons for supporting the Covenant without merit and actually quite strange. Giving the Archbishop of Canterbury a centralized "teaching office" in "his ministry to the Communion" sounds more and more like an Anglican Magisterium. This is a failed top down model in Roman Catholicism. It is NOT working. It is of another century but certainly not of this century. Imperial models must be resisted. It is a shame that this is even on their radar. Disturbing.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Sunday, 12 December 2010 at 2:41am GMT

To date, instead of making a positive case for the Covenant, its supporters at Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office have chosen to use only two rhetorical techniques: character association (BNP, Little Englanders, "haven't read the Covenant") and emotional blackmail.

The disgraceful conduct of these officials and of Cantuar himself actually provide the most compelling case AGAINST the Covenant.

I hope and pray that my lord of Gloucester and his colleagues will wake up to the manipulation and will see the complete absence of any logical defence of this daft Covenant.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Sunday, 12 December 2010 at 4:54am GMT

JCF,

That may be true, but the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral was never intended for such use. It was initially written up in response to schism within the Episcopal Church (the formation of the Reformed Episcopal Church) but was officially aimed at 'our fellow-Christians of the different Communions in this land, who, in their several spheres, have contended for the religion of Christ...' It was approved by Lambeth as an ecumenical document. Interestingly, it has been perceived by some churches as too catholic and restrictive.

But perhaps using the Quadrilateral for our internal affairs rather than for ecumenical work fits better with the self-absorbed Anglicanism we have become...

Posted by: Mark on Sunday, 12 December 2010 at 7:40am GMT

There is also the possibility that the bishops in the CofE voted for the Covenant because they know which side their bread is buttered on. The internal political ramification are too great for many of them to take a principled stand and this is ashamed. This is why bishops need to be democratically ELECTED by The People of God, which includes the clerical estate, but is equally represented with lay people. Appointments of bishops is NOT a good idea. Look what has happened as a result?

Posted by: Chris Smith on Sunday, 12 December 2010 at 4:17pm GMT

"because I do fear, despite assurances, that a Covenant could eventually be used in a punitive manner against fellow Anglicans"

It's odd that they all cearly think that the Covenant will only ever be used against other Anglicans, whereas it strikes me that the CoE itself is a very likely contestant, if not now then in 5-10 years time.

Will they still be so sanguine about it then?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 12 December 2010 at 4:20pm GMT

It does seem - as Chris Smith says - that the C.of E. Bishops' collegiality applies infinitely more towards their National Church's solidarity than it does to fellow Churches within the world-wide Communion.

It could be argued, of course, that the Chicago Quadrilateral was initiated a by a similar need to provide solidarity within the Church in North America. however, the Chicago Quad. was actually found to be acceptable to the bishops of the Communion at Lambeth. (Interestingly, it did not prevent a group of schismatic breakaway churches from re-grouping with the newer dissidents to form the current faux-Anglican ACNA).

Perhaps this demonstrates very clearly the difference between a Church that has its bishops appointed (via the State), as against a church which has its bishops elected through a more democratic, synodical process. Eventually this may prove to be the real and inescapable barrier between conservatism, and a Gospel-oriented open-ness to new initiatives in the mission of the different Provinces of the Communion. In this case, an imposed covenantal relationship, capable of disbarring members by a majority of Provinces, could lead only to disaffection and breakdown.

It should also be noted that certain conservative Provinces of the Communion are governed by primates who are selected by internal episcopal fiat. This means that Churches like Uganda and Nigeria can 'appoint' prelates whose political and theological views do not alway necessarily concide with the local clergy or laity. How this situation can be adapted to provide an overall homogeneity in the Communion is questionable. These Churches are already consolidating into an adversarial group - GAFCON, ACNA, etc., and are therefore going to be resistant to re-joining the *Unity in Diversity* ethic which has been the hallmark of Anglicanism up to this time.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 12 December 2010 at 9:44pm GMT

When I put what this man has to say alongside "The Covenant is good news for Anglicanism" in Christian Today by Fulcrum's John Martin, my very soul is chilled.

One rallies support for the Covenant so that the conversation can continue while the other tells his constituency that the Covenant will shut down the debate on sexuality.
Both, even more chillingly, make their call for support for the Covenant as they understand it - out of loyalty to the Leader ....

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 12 December 2010 at 10:06pm GMT

Disagreeing with Rowan is not disloyalty, is it? Do the English bishops understand how foolish comments like this one by the Bishop of Gloucester read? They aren't schoolboys any longer, and this sort of loyalty is misplaced in the world of adults. They might want to listen to the wisdom of Nancy Reagan, and "just say no."

Posted by: Burl on Monday, 13 December 2010 at 12:18am GMT

The Covenant is actually the real symptom of our global Anglican malaise - i.e., diagnosing the failures of what used to be taken for granted as our mutual call to Indaba across differences, always. It looks critical at the moment, insofar as the Covenant is preached to save us ... of all things, from having differences, and then, goodness sakes, from having to do any Anglican homework across our global differences. Rowan does not actually need a covenant like this to reach across differences; all he has to do is DO IT. Then let the chips fall where they may as people hitch up their purities and refuse to talk, relate, study, investigate, and generally understand.

This notion that the Covenant provides some nurture, if not outright grounding, for continued global Indaba is self-deluding wishful thinking.

We shall either hang together without a covenant, or indeed modernity will hang us all separately because we refuse to do this or that or the other piece of homework. Make no mistake as a believer, the modern homework is coming and will continue to come. Knowledge is just flooding out way too fast for any No Changes Covenant to be salvific.

Alas, Lord have mercy. NO Covenant. Please.

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 13 December 2010 at 6:17am GMT

"This is a failed top down model in Roman Catholicism. It is NOT working. It is of another century but certainly not of this century."

It is clear that the Roman centralization of power and responsibility is failing -- the Vatican people are cladding all the old insignia and regalia ($25000 for Abp Burke's mitre, $35000 for his Cappa Magna as cardinal, etc. etc.)in a vain effort to restore the mystique of Christendom as magical protection against the coming storm. A revolutionary free-for-all in Roman Catholicism could be a frightening spectacle that would make the gentlemanly disagreements of Anglicanism seem models of order.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Monday, 13 December 2010 at 12:13pm GMT

100% with Chris Smith! At least: How many Elected TEC Bishops have large pedophile scandals on their Dioceses? And RC Bishops? Clear not? If I were American, I would certainly became an Episcopalian or at least join with them for the Mass as Chris Smith does!

And, of course 100% with Spirit of Vatican II: With respect to all the Thinking Anglicans, the fact is that the current disintegration proccess on our RC Church will really do those fights within the Anglicans seem somewhat like kids fighting in the playground to capture the ball!!!...

Good Evening!

Posted by: Pensamento Positivo on Monday, 13 December 2010 at 9:33pm GMT
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