Wednesday, 29 June 2011

TEC Commission reports on the Covenant

The Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church has issued a report on the Anglican Covenant.

See this ENS news report: Task force releases report on Anglican Covenant.

“The SCCC is of the view that adoption of the current draft Anglican Covenant has the potential to change the constitutional and canonical framework of [the Episcopal Church], particularly with respect to the autonomy of our Church, and the constitutional authority of our General Convention, bishops and dioceses,” says the report.

The full text of the report can be found here as a PDF.

Mark Harris has commented on it: The Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons’ report. There it is.

Lionel Deimel has Analysis of the Report from the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 10:00am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | ECUSA

I think we should investigate the legal aspects of the relation between church / law /the state in England if the Covenant were to be passed There is a need to have a discussion on this with some MPs

Posted by: Jean Mary Mayland on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 12:49pm BST

The Covenant is expressly designed to exclude GLTB people from full inclusion in the Church. I hope that TEC will have the courage and integrity to reject it out of hand.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 1:45pm BST

@ Jean Mary

Yeah, I was wondering if this report meant that the CoE can't pass the covenant without Parliament consenting to make significant enabling changes to the canons.

On the other hand, if the Government's lawyers have looked at the covenant and don't see any need to make such constitutional and canonical changes, then the SCCC is probably mistaken about TEC needing to make constitutional and canonical changes. After all, the Government's lawyers are probably good at looking out for the Government's prerogatives.

Posted by: Jonathan on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 2:28pm BST

I agree Jean. I cant see why more hasn't been made of this...In what sense ( if any!) can the C of E by law established and ultimately answerable to the Crown in Parliament be subject to an external authority? for example the SE Asian bishops have already talked about methods of episcopal election...supposing this was demanded of the C of E, I cant see how it could possibly agree. I think it is true to say that in the strict sense the C of E isn't part of the Anglican Communion at all, in that nowhere is it so defined, but perhaps someone knowing more about Church/State relations could put me right on this. Certainly when i was a beneficed clergyman the only body I "belonged" to in any legal/canonical sense was the C of E.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 2:55pm BST

I'm very glad to read this. Next Monday, we celebrate Independence Day in the USA. It has been pointed out that many of those who framed the United States constitution in Independence Hall, Philadelphia,were also, in Christ Church, just a short distance away, framers of the constitution and canons of TEC. Our Church, too, was independent of England, and we remain an independent Church to this day, although very much in communion with other Anglican bodies around the world.

Posted by: Old Father William on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 6:21pm BST

This report makes clear to me that the Episcopal Church -- if it approaches the Covenant with integrity -- cannot simply sign off on it and hope there will be no consequences.

It also makes clear to me that were I to vote on the Covenant I would vote no precisely because it would change the fundamental character of the Episcopal Church, which while it has its faults is basically a solid institution.

No possible consequence of not signing off on the Covenant is worth making basic changes in an institution that has served God well for the past 200+ years.

Posted by: jnwall on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 6:40pm BST

The Anglican Covenant has become a ruse for the rest of the Communion to ponder while GAFCON/FCA/CANA/AMiE/AMiA move to consolidate their holdings and eliminate the real Anglican communion in favor the anglican Communion they form/create. We should be doing many, many things, but pondering this document is only a distraction that serves no purpose at all. One needs to read Charles Raven's work to figure out what is really going on.

Posted by: Fred Schwartz on Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 5:44am BST

"The Anglican Covenant has become a ruse for the rest of the Communion" - Fred Schwarz

Yes, it is an exercise in obscurantism of the most egregious kind.

Posted by: A J Barford on Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 8:43am BST

It would seem, on balance, that subscription to the Anglican Covenant would create an entirely new organisation for independent Anglican Churches around the world to 'belong' to the particular circumscribed conditions set out within the parameters of the Covenant document.

At the present moment, all the independent national church bodies described as belonging to the world-wide 'Anglican Communion' - which does not, for instance, include those new 'churches' which call themselves ACNA, A.M.i.A. A.M.i.E. or CANA - are 'de facto' members of that Communion Body. With the erection of 'The Covenant', only those who subscribe to it's polity and disciplinary code will be accounted members.

So what is the real problem here? Why do we need a brand new constitutional body which would displace the one which has survived for long enough? If one says 'NO!' to the Covenant, will that normally expel you from the Anglican Communion as we have always known it? If so, it may never have been worth belonging to!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 12:19pm BST

Not being all that up on affairs British, particularly law, I am wondering if laws respecting praemunire are still in effect and if they would apply? Lionel Deimel raised the interesting point about Article 4, particularly that it states that the text of the Preamble is included as part of the Covenant. One of the interesting legal questions raised by the US cases and the attorneys arguing the case for the seceding congregations, and this is from memory so I may be wrong, was that TEC's statement in its Preamble to its Constitution that it was a constituent member of the Anglican communion required some sort of accession to its order and, the accession rose to the level of as "Church" or "religious society" that would then qualify under Virginia's 57-9 property law. Given that the seceding churches joined a "branch" of that church that was never part of The Episcopal Church, the question of the Preamble's inclusion in the Constitution as a whole was irrelevant, but the Covenant makes the Preamble's inclusion specific...which is mostly likely why the US report deals with it. I wonder then, if praemunire dealt primarily with property and the legitimacy of an off-shore judiciary, how, adoption of the covenant would affect the autonomy of the CofE, the Crown, and Parliament?

Posted by: EmilyH on Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 1:31pm BST

"praemunire" - EmilyH

- 'the offence of asserting or maintaining papal jurisdiction in England' (OED)

- 'the bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England' - (BCP)

Posted by: A J Barford on Friday, 1 July 2011 at 3:04am BST
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