Sunday, 5 February 2012

Anglican Covenant: opposition grows in England

Updated 11 Feb to add Gloucester voting figures

On Saturday both Derby and Gloucester dioceses voted decisively to reject the proposed Anglican Covenant. Canterbury voted strongly in favour.

In Derby the voting was:

Bishops: 0 for, 1 against
Clergy: 1 for, 21 against, 2 abstentions
Laity: 2 for, 24 against, 2 abstentions

In Gloucester the voting was:

Bishops 1 for, 0 against, 1 abstention
Clergy: 16 for, 28 against, 1 abstention
Laity: 14 for, 28 against, 6 abstentions

Update: from the comments below, we now have figures for Canterbury:

Bishops: 1 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions
Clergy: 26 for, 14 against, 0 abstentions
Laity: 39 for, 13 against, 0 abstentions

Recently, the No Anglican Covenant Coalition announced the appointment of Oxford University Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, DD, as a Patron of the Coalition. The full press release is here (PDF).

…“Anglicanism was born in the Reformation’s rejection of an unwarranted and unhistorical over-centralization of ecclesiastical authority,” according to Professor MacCulloch. “This pernicious proposal of a Covenant (an unhappy choice of name if you know anything about our Church’s history) ignores the Anglican Communion’s
past, and seeks to gridlock the Anglican present at the cost of a truly Anglican future…

Also a paper written by Peter Doll, Canon Librarian of Norwich Cathedral, in support of the Covenant, was comprehensively critiqued by Jonathan Clatworthy and also by Lionel Deimel.

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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England

I can confirm Canterbury Diocese voted in favour of the motion on Saturday:
House of Bishops: 1 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions
Clergy: 26 for, 14 against, 0 abstentions
Laity: 39 for, 13 against, 0 abstentions

Posted by: Emily Shepherd on Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 5:33pm GMT

This thing is surely dead. You can't have - in England itself - dioceses which reject it and then pretend that the historic heart of Anglicanism backs the Anglican covenant.

Posted by: John on Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 7:04pm GMT

Doll's essay is not only very often incorrect as the two responses point out in detail, it is also deeply anti-American and I am very sorry that the ABC saw fit to send it round to all C-of-E bishops with his implicit endorsement.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 8:51pm GMT

Well done, Derby and Gloucester!

Thank you for standing up for the real traditions of Anglicanism.

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 9:23pm GMT

If Bishops are openly revolting, the Covenant project now seems in deep trouble.

Posted by: Gerry Lynch on Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 9:33pm GMT

I'd've been surprised had Canterbury gone any other way. The emotional blackmail at the heart of most pro-Covenant arguments ("if we defeat it it would hurt poor Rowan) would be especially effective with poor Rowan in the room.

More importantly, I'm sure Rowan imposed the same unethical standards we saw in Lichfield and elswhere, with only pro-Covenant propaganda distributed, pre-debate "presentations" that only pretended to be balanced and a resulting preponderance of pro-Covenant sycophants at the mics.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 10:21pm GMT

Jonathan Clatworthy's scepticism about the Trinity is telling.

Posted by: Robin Ward on Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 11:21pm GMT

Some typically anti-Papist rhetoric from Diarmaid MacCulloch, I fear. I suppose we should be pleased that the anti-Covenant forces have marshalled such a formidable mind to their side, but as MacCulloch no longer even identifies as a Christian, much less an Anglican (though he certainly seems to have plenty to say about the Church) I'm not sure he's likely to be much help.

Posted by: rjb on Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 11:22pm GMT

Methinks that Canterbury - because of its connection with the ABC - was predictable in its response. However, good for Gloucester and Derby!

What if the majority of dioceses reject the Covenant. Will the General Synod accept more pressure from the Archbishops to conform? Or will they continue to behave democratically?

No doubt the rest of the Communion will be looking on interestedly at what Mother Church decides - on this and the other important issues coming up.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 2:14am GMT


If a majority of diocese (or exactly half of them) reject the covenant, it cannot return to this Synod. It could come back to the new Synod to be elected in 2015, but the whole process (including the reference to the diocese) would have to start again from the beginning.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 8:54am GMT

I rather relish "anti-Papist" rhetoric!

Indeed, in the light of the Pope's very high profile campaign to oppose same-sex marriage I would encourage Diarmaid to write more, please.

As to this: "but as MacCulloch no longer even identifies as a Christian, much less an Anglican" .... Hmmmmm, things change ..... and I was struck by the fact that The Reverend Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch Kt did not renounce his order so that he might be called "Sir". Perhaps things are no longer quite as you say? Still, discussing people's spiritual lives always seemed vulgar.


Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 9:59am GMT

Thank you, Peter, for that assurance. Prayers are being offered right now - for justice to prevail!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 10:16am GMT

"The emotional blackmail at the heart of most pro-Covenant arguments ("if we defeat it it would hurt poor Rowan) would be especially effective with poor Rowan in the room." Malcolm French.

I'd be very surprised if Rowan was *physically* present at Canterbury's diocesan synod meeting. I'm sure that someone who was present can confirm that. I'd expect the chair to be taken by the Bishop of Dover who acts on behalf of the archbishop on diocesan matters.

Posted by: RPNewark on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 10:19am GMT

In favour: Lichfield, Durham, Europe, Bristol, Canterbury (5).

Against: Truro, Birmingham, Wakefield, St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, Derby, Gloucester (6).

This leaves 33 dioceses who have not yet decided.

Posted by: badman on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 12:41pm GMT

Surely if the Covenant fails in most dioceses, then the archbishops will simply write and seek to impose their own 'amendment' as with women as bishops !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 1:52pm GMT

In fact the centralised power of Rome was replaced by the stranglehold of the English monarch and a puppet parliament.

What a crude stereotype MacCulloch makes...that is simply not history but sheer prejudice and bigotry.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Monday, 6 February 2012 at 10:10pm GMT

"A puppet parliament."

This would be the Parliament that beheaded the king a century later?

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 2:32am GMT

Peter Doll's paper is simply abusive and devoid of any redeeming value that I can find. I say this as a Canadian who has lived in the US most of my life. I have never given up my citizenship in Canada. There are still aspects of American culture and values that seem foreign to me. Although I have serious criticisms of what I regard as failings of American culture and politics, I find Doll's paper offensive and simply dumb. I am an adjunctive faculty member at an nearby college. I would have given Doll an F for his paper. The paper is based on sweeping generalizations and associations so loose as to suggest a thought disorder rather than a thoughtful consideration of an issue. All of the straw men which Doll erects and then flails to death exist only in his imagination, as far as I can tell.

As to the Episcopal Church, what other Church in the Communion would be pilloried by a blatantly prejudiced piece such as Doll's? Nigeria? Uganda? Kenya? Singapore? Obviously not. The patience of Episcopalians is wearing thin in the Covenant project and its inherent disregard for or hostility to the very lives of LGBTI persons. Those of us who live these lives are very aware that "the reign of God is near" and it will not be delayed in our lives by the likes of Doll or Rowan Williams.

The sadness of this is that Rowan has been so irresponsible as to openly demonstrate to the rest of the Communion his contempt for TEC by sending this amazingly bad piece by Doll to the rest of the bishops of the CofE. That contempt used to be a secret that we in TEC knew by the way that he treated our bishops and General Convention. But now the secret is out.

I hope that the CofE will stand up to Rowan and John for their regressive and unjust positions on the full role of women as bishops, and on the full participation of LGBTI persons at all levels and in all the Sacraments of the Church. But I have no say really.

Soon, we in TEC will have our say about the Covenant. If anyone believed that it stood a chance of passage in the nert General Convention, there will be no chance now. As I write, copies of Doll's paper are being sent to all of the members of our House of Bishops and to all diocesan delegations. The reactions to Doll's paper, so far, have been a little different from Rowan's. Stunned distaste and rejection seem to be the order of the day over here.

Posted by: karen macqueen+_ on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 4:51am GMT

It is not surprising that Rowan would've circulated Doll's screed. Several British friends were concerned at Rowan's elevation to his current position, because of his avowed anti-Americanism. Indeed, one friend in the clergy referred to it as "bald-faced bigotry."

Like so many in the liberal spectrum (at *that* time), I thought that, perhaps, my friends in the UK were being overly p.c.

In the end, I, and all of us, gave him enough rope to hang all of us.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 10:06am GMT

As someone who is not a great fan of TEC and has been tempted in the past to make some similar observations as Doll, I find myself fully in agreement with Karen.

This is propaganda - just as much as if I described the Church of England from the committee rooms of Forward in Faith or Reform. But it is a propaganda that many believe ....

Shame on Rowan for circulating it!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 11:14am GMT

Where religious reform was concerned, Elizabeth and her successors were more often tugging back on the parliamentary reigns than dragging an unwilling Commons in their wake, RIW. Further to Jeremy's comment, also the "puppet parliament" that settled and altered the Succession three times in 55 years (1660-1715).

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 2:51pm GMT

Of course the seventeenth century Parliament became less subservient, but not in the Elizabethan period. The only way she got her reforms through was by manipulation of parliament and locking away the Catholic bishops.

Liberal Anglicanism only emerged in the eighteenth century.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 at 6:01pm GMT

Your grasp of the relevant history is rather loose, RIW. Elizabeth was simply more effective than her succerssors in dealing effectively with Parliament. The Stuarts generally - but especially the first Charles and the second James - were utterly incompetent on that score.

It has nowt to do with when a supposedly "Liberal Anglicanism" arose. It has to do with monarchs who were or were not effective parliamentary tacticians.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 3:38am GMT

Just three bishops locked up, RIW. Don't believe all you see in Cate Blanchett movies.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 6:27pm GMT
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