Saturday, 10 March 2012

Further critiques of the Anglican Covenant

Updated Monday

Paul Bagshaw has analysed the text of the video made on Monday of this week by the Archbishop of Canterbury. His article is titled Archbishop, I beg to differ.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is clearly anxious that the Covenant project is endangered in England. There is still a long way to go and neither side can be confident of victory for a few more weeks.

So, to shore up support, Rowan Williams has had to put out an appeal on YouTube. He has also sent it to those Dioceses which have yet to vote on the Covenant and asked diocesan officers to circulate it…

Andrew Davison has revised his earlier article to include some comments arising from the video, and the revised version is available here.

…In a statement on the Anglican Covenant of 5 March 2012, the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote that the legal, fourth part of the Covenant does not erect a disciplinary system to force anyone to do anything. That is accurate, unfortunately, only in the most technical sense. The law of England does not force me not to steal or murder. However, it would impose punishments if I did, and that would be quite a disincentive, were I so tempted. Similarly, the Covenant does not force any Province to act one way or another, in that technical sense. It is, all the same, coercive and punitive: it is difficult to understand the exclusion of Provinces from full membership of the Communion as anything but a threat and a punishment…

And Malcolm French has written this: There was no YouTube in 1867.

…At the end of the day, only 76 of 144 bishops attended the first Lambeth Conference. Archbishop Longley’s assurance that the conference would neither have nor claim the status of a Pan-Anglican synod failed to reassure either Archbishop Thomson or Dean Stanley. Thomson and most of the bishops from the northern province refused to attend. Stanley refused to allow Westminster Abbey to be used for any part of the event. Bishop John Colenso of Natal, prefiguring the eventual unpersoning of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson in 2007, was simply not invited.

Of course, Longley won the immediate skirmish. The conference did not claim any synodical authority, and its resolutions were not binding on Anglicans at home or abroad.

But here’s what didn’t happen.

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury didn’t put out a YouTube video essentially calling Archbishop Thomson’s and Dean Stanley’s views “completely misleading and false” - and not only because there was no YouTube in 1867.
  • The Bishop of St. Asaph didn’t bleat on to The Times that critics of the conference idea were fascists - and not only because the term “fascist” hadn’t been invented yet.
  • The Bishop of Sherborne didn’t wander about the country claiming that anyone who didn’t support the conference idea was being disloyal to Archbishop Longley - and not only because the bishopric of Sherborne didn’t exist…

Alan Perry has published Of Archbishops and Videos.

…But the biggest problem, as the Archbishop sees it, is not any quibbles obscure Canadians like me might have with sections 1-3. No, there is apparently some false propaganda circulating. As the Archbishop puts it:

one of the greatest misunderstandings around concerning the Covenant is that it’s some sort of centralising proposal creating an absolute authority which has the right to punish people for stepping out of line. I have to say I think this is completely misleading and false.

I would be more convinced if he were to demonstrate, citing the actual Covenant text of course, precisely why these concerns are “misleading and false.” Without doing so, he engages in unsupported assertions and even verges on ad hominem attacks.

The fact is, as I have already demonstrated, that the so-called dispute-settling process in section 4 of the proposed Covenant is vague, arbitrary and intrinsically unfair by design. And it is designed to determine winners and losers. Either an action by a Church is compatible or incompatible with the Covenant. And the decision is final, with no mechanism for further discussion or appeal.

Oh, says the Archbishop, “what the Covenant proposes is not a set of punishments, but a way of thinking through what the consequences are of decisions people freely and in good conscience make.” Given the vagueness of the process, it’s not much of a way of thinking through anything. We don’t even know how to start the process. It’s that unclear. I challenge the Archbishop to demonstrate where the Covenant text says how a question is to be raised, as it quaintly puts what elsewhere would be called lodging a complaint. It’s simply not there in the text…

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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England

Have you heard Rowan on Vatican radio? What a master of double speak. He was asked about the Covenant(as the interviewer understood that it was being defeated in the dioceses) and said he still hopes it will be passed and he continues to pray for it. He affirms it is not authoritarian. He also affirms that Synod wants the bishops to come up with a compromise on women bishops.

Posted by: ROBERT ian williams on Sunday, 11 March 2012 at 7:21am GMT

A very good analysis by Paul Bagshaw. One supposes that the ABC had to do something desperate, in the hope that he could stem the flow against the Covenant. However, he should be mindful of the fact that a vote against the Covenant doesn't necessarily mean we don't love him. It might just mean that we think he's wrong on this issue.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 11 March 2012 at 10:10am GMT

Why isn't Thinking Anglicans reproducing any strong accounts defending the Covenant, like Nicholas Sagovsky's article in this week's 'Church Times' (behind a pay-wall for now, but a startling call to catholicity)?

Posted by: Paul on Sunday, 11 March 2012 at 11:19am GMT

The first time Abp. Rowan visited TEC House of Bishops, he instructed them to exercise their charism as bishops. From his point of view, what bishops say is what goes, and for TEC bishops to follow the will of General Convention over the will of the bishops is just wrong. It's a failure to exercise the charism of bishop.

Thus, the results, so far, of the voting in the CoE on the Covenant is not about, it seems to me, in the view of Abp. Rowan, having respect or disrespect for the ABC, or loving him or not, from his theology of the episcopate, it is that bishops are supposed to have the final authoritative say, and to have dioceses voting against their bishops, in some cases, and, as dioceses, voting against their archbishops, is just so wrong, to the Abp's way of thinking. At least, that is how I interpret Rowan's understanding of the episcopate and his apparent anger at this time.

Posted by: Lois Keen on Sunday, 11 March 2012 at 7:11pm GMT

Paul, the site has. Look back, for example, to March 4 and 5.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Monday, 12 March 2012 at 1:11am GMT

Thinking Anglicans has linked to any number of articles that have argued in favor of accepting the proposed Anglican Covenant. If Thinking Anglicans has been neglectful in "reproducing any strong accounts defending the Covenant," it may not be the fault of TA, but rather the incoherence of the arguments of the advocates thereof.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Monday, 12 March 2012 at 2:53am GMT

Good to be reminded of Bishop Colenso whose alleged heresy triggered the first Lambeth Conference. Although excommunicated by the Archbishop of Capetown, he remained the lawful Bishop of Natal. (The present C.of South Africa does not descend from him). In our latest "frenzy" (to use his word) we could learn much from this gentle but forthright man, one of the greatest of African missionaries, Biblical scholar, translator, defender of the Zulus, and one who suffered much because of his seeking after truth and justice - and from the works of his wife and daughters. Many of his books have been re-printed recently including Vols 1 and 2 of the Natal Sermons. However, we greatly need a re-printing of the extremely rare Vols 3 and 4, published originally only in South Africa. Together with the "Immortal Dreamer" he is my greatest hero as the name of my house bears witness- "Colenso Corner".

Posted by: John Bunyan on Monday, 12 March 2012 at 7:05am GMT

"Why isn't Thinking Anglicans reproducing any strong accounts defending the Covenant". - Paul on Sunday -

Perhaps, Paul, because thinking Anglicans really don't know of any that bear scrutiny.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 12 March 2012 at 9:06am GMT

Nick Sagovsky's piece repeatedly invokes 'mutual interdependence'. I am a prissy academic and I think that marshmallow English produces marshmallow thinking.

Posted by: John on Monday, 12 March 2012 at 1:44pm GMT

One of things that is passing strange, and which shows something of the insularity of the No campaigners, is the idea that AB Rowan Williams will find ‘following motions’ and assurances of ongoing charity ('we love you') welcome, should the campaign fail. No one twisted his arm to make him give a robust defense of the covenant, and if it is not passed, he will properly be seen as *defeated on something of major importance to him and, as he sees it, to the Anglican Communion as a whole.* Equally, people can opine that he ought not to have made the covenant’s passage such a major thing. That’s beside the point: he did make passage a major thing, because he believes the covenant is a major thing.

More importantly and also ignored is the Communion effect. Because the covenant is not an insular Church of England affair, but touches the Communion at its widest reach; and because the Archbishop of Canterbury was the one who saw to its significant role in the wider Communion and saw to its development on those terms (and not just something subject to a CofE proxy), the effect will not be limited to perceptions of his authority of Archbishop of Canterbury within the CofE, but will extend quite properly to his office as an Instrument of Communion. People are fully within their rights to say this Canterbury Instrumentality is a bad idea and so forth, and people at TA regularly indulge such views. But they are not his views of his own office, and they are not the views of the Communion in respect of that Instrument’s role. The Instrument of Communion which is the Archbishop of Canterbury will be seriously damaged because the covenant he sought to develop was defeated in his very own Province.

The No movement can work as hard as possible to see to the Covenant’s defeat. What makes no sense at all is offering assurances that all will be will. Not *all* will be well. The Archbishop of Canterbury will have been defeated, with major consequences in the Communion at large in respect of his office. People can welcome that. But they can’t ask that he also view it as a good outcome, nor that the Communion at large join in that positive appraisal. That will be for the wider Communion to judge, and not for No campaigners.

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Monday, 12 March 2012 at 9:22pm GMT

Mr Seitz raises a very troubling point. The Covenant debate has become so wrapped up with the person of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and depicted so much as a test of personal loyalty to the Archbishop and the Communion, that it has taken on a life entirely divorced from the text and its probable effects. So very little time is spent in anything like a "robust defense" of the Covenant qua text. Why talk about the text if the main selling point is that it's a test of loyalty?

The trouble is, how will that loyalty which leads people to vote for a document that is being poorly explained help us all when the content of the document comes back to bite us?

Posted by: Alan T Perry on Monday, 12 March 2012 at 11:57pm GMT

Considering ACI's one-time stance of distancing themselves from the Archbishop of Canterbury - on the grounds that he hasn't been tough enough on the liberals in the Communion, I find cseitz's comment here less than convincing.

My feeling (and I'm sure the feeling of many 'Thinking Anglicans') is that that The ABC, because of his love for the Anglican Communion, and because he wants to keep it together at any cost, has been persuaded by the GAFCON Provinces that the only way they will remain within the Communion is to dis-enfranchise TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada - which I see as the real objective behind Section 4 of the Covenant process.

Because GAFCON Provinces have decided that they will not have a bar of the emancipation of Gays in their own Churches, the ABC probably sees the disciplinary ethos of the Covenant (and it IS there, in Section 4) as the only way of enticing them back into the Communion - from their threat to take over the Communion for themselves.

With GAFCON not likely to sign up to the present Covenant document (without stricter conditions for membership, that would allow for their homophobia)
the Archbishops of the Church of England are between a rock and a hard place. Which way to move if the Covenant does not get approved by the C.of E. will be the next crisis for the ACO.

In the meantime, I expect, the rest of us will just continue in the way of being Anglican in the local milieu, celebrating Christ in the Sacraments and offering His love to our people on the ground.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 1:10am GMT

I find myself, to my surprise, agreeing with about 98% of what Christopher Seitz has said here. It would be as silly to vote for this sort of motion so as to make ++Rowan feel loved as it would be to support the Covenant out of loyalty. The reason for supporting 'following motions'is that they say what needs to be said. it affirms the commitment to the communion that most on both sides of the covenant controversy share.

The 2% of Christopher's post where I absolutely disagree is the line:
"But they can’t ask ...... that the Communion at large join in that positive appraisal."

Why on earth not? As a confirmed "no campaigner", I am definitely asking that the communion as a whole see the folly inherent in the covenant proposal. A community-wide positive appraisal to the defeat of the covenant would be an important step towards a new and better way to restore and strengthen our bonds of affection.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 1:20am GMT

"The No movement can work as hard as possible to see to the Covenant’s defeat. What makes no sense at all is offering assurances that all will be w[e]ll."

I think they're rather just offering CHRIST'S assurances that all will be well. [That's True, regardless---but better w/ The Quad than w/ *this* Covenant!]

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 7:19am GMT

I think c.r.seitz that the polity of the Church of England is important here. Archbishop Rowan says that there has been wide consultation throughout the Anglican Communion on this covenant proposal. This Diocesan referral is the first time in the process that the proposal has got anywhere near the grass roots of a church which believes itself to be synodically governed and to have a grass roots clergy and lay franchise.

So many of us do not believe that we are being asked to support the results of a consultation process - we have not been engaged. Rather we are behaving, individually and collectively, in accord with our instinctive polity (which is also ignored in the Sagovsky piece in the Church Times - we've made assertions in ecumenical dialogue, apparently, which bind us on this ... ???). We are therefore behaving in accordance with the truth of the matter, which is that we are being asked for the first time. And many of us look at the covenant and say 'that's not the kind of thing we want or trust, and we certainly don't trust the process' - so people are voting against it, as that is what they think. But we are also telling people constructively what we do want, hence following motions - so that we can make a helpful contribution to the process.

If it all seems too late in the day - well someone should have thought about a proper consultation years ago. The fact that a large number of people in the hierarchy seem to have thought this would just get through without a problem reemphasises the divide between the 'top' and the grass roots (the beliefs of the 'top' people about views on what the women bishops voting might be are another evident disconnect). And the more the grass roots are cajoled into supporting the covenant, the more they will fight back and say the equivalent of "hang on a minute you need to listen to what we think about this".

The attempt to railroad local polity is one of the factors which creates additional suspicion about the direction of travel in which the 'covenant' takes us. In fact, in this context, pretty much every argument which is being deployed to say 'vote for this' is self-defeating.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 7:30am GMT

"Why isn't Thinking Anglicans reproducing any strong accounts defending the Covenant, like Nicholas Sagovsky's article in this week's 'Church Times' "

That reminds me of the people who keep saying that TEC hasn't "done the theology" for acceptance of gays and lesbians. You show them the works, the arguments, the years of discernment and they say, "No. No. You haven't done the theology."

"Yes. Yes, we have. Look. Here are the titles."

"No. You haven't done the theology."

"Okay. Here, physically, are the books, the reports, the transcripts, the musings. Right here. In front of you. Solid material."

"No. You haven't done the theology."

It's right there, Paul. For instance, March 5 - you don't even have to look *within* larger updates - the big-point title of the update is "More Support for the Anglican Covenant." Now, I grant you, it's pretty tepid stuff, but "more" support implies what went before - stuff like Sagovsky's - which is unconvincing, old news, and the "more" represents the fact that, having exhausted these more erudite arguments which have failed and been consistently rebutted and refuted, they've sunk to name-calling and threats as "support" for this so-called covenant.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 7:41am GMT

Archbishops of Canterbury have been defeated before. Somehow the Anglican Communion survived. Archbishop Ramsey, as I recall, was defeated on some matter regarding the evolving relationship between Anglicans and Methodists in England. He was not destroyed.

But if wee Christopher thinks that the following motions are about making Archbishop Williams feel better, it demonstrates a very limited capacity for strategic thinking.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 8:43am GMT

Mr French: Could I ask you to refrain from using my Christian name as if we knew one another? This now common blog discourtesy is not one that needs to occur at Thinking Anglicans. Hence, your proper referring to ‘Sarah’ and ‘Diarmaid’ and others by their titles and surnames. Thank you.

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 3:22pm GMT

Mr French: Can you restrain yourself for a moment from the 4th former insults? It belies the seriousness of your endeavour.

As for AB Williams, I was responding to:

"However, he should be mindful of the fact that a vote against the Covenant doesn't necessarily mean we don't love him".

Mr Bennet: my point above was to do with the effect in the wider Communion on an/the chief Instrument. I accept the CofE context and its parameters. That was not my point. If the covenant is defeated, and it appears it will be, the CofE context will not be the relevant one any longer, but the Communion at large. What now if 22 Provinces adopt the covenant, its standing committee is properly reconfigured to make up for the loss of those saying No, and the covenant Communion gets on with it? Is the loss of a functioning Instrument of Communion an acceptable one? I suspect for many it is just fine. But it cannot be an outcome that +RDW is supposed to think is anodyne.

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 3:31pm GMT

Mr Prebble--you are quite right that a No campaign can ask for a positive appraisal of a defeated covenant. What they cannot simply assume, expect, or demand is that a defeated covenant not be taken as a defeated ABC and a defeated Communion insofar as they judged the Instruments valuable and necessary. The ABC as Instrument of Unity asked that the covenant be the means for a particular vision of Communion to take hold. Within the CofE, his narrower ecclesial location, that covenant notion has been or looks likely to be defeated. That redowns to his own diminishment, as his office as Instrument is part and parcel of the Communion articulated by the covenant. Many may rejoice in that. But one cannot say that the effects are minimal. It can be 'life as usual' in one sense in the CofE, one may suppose (though that is not self-evident either), after a defeated covenant. It will not be 'life as usual' in the Communion.

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 5:09pm GMT

Thanks for the links and comments. Just to clarify, I do read TA regularly and love it. My query reveals no preference for or against the Covenant; it was a simple query since there does seem a disproportion between pro and anti article links. My overall impression of the debate on both sides (including these comments) is an overwhelming reliance on invalid assumptions, ad hominem attacks, and theological cross-talk. It's proved a disappointing failure in Christian charity.

Posted by: Paul on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 6:06pm GMT

I don't think it will be 'life as usual' within the C of E if/when the covenant is defeated. I think the collective bishopric and archbishopric will have suffered a bloody nose. Most of me (not all of me) thinks that is a good thing, both because the covenant in my view is a bad thing and because by their arrogance and failure to communicate (by no means restricted to this issue) they have asked for it.

Posted by: john on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 6:16pm GMT

"That redowns to his own diminishment, as his office as Instrument is part and parcel of the Communion articulated by the covenant."

Well, Mr (sorry, Dr)Seitz, I do take the point you are making, but as I reflect on it, I believe you are wrong. it only redowns to his diminishment in comparison with the enhanced role that would be assigned to his office were the Covenant adopted. Even if this is not made explicit in the text, the effect of the new structures that would be created must give an increased responsibility to the only one of the Instruments of Union that is continuously in place - the ABC.

As you invite, I am looking at this from a Communion POV - after all, I belong to the Church that is geographically furthest from the C of E . The fundamental reason why I oppose the Covenant is that it disrupts 'life as usual'. The reason why we give an honoured place to the office of the ABC is not because that office as Instrument is articulated by the covenant, but because for centuries it has epitomised and personalised our communion one with another. That state of communion, and those bonds of affection are what constitute 'business as usual'.

Yes, I agree that ++Rowan will feel distressed if, as it seems, the covenant is defeated by the Cof E's synodical process and/or by rejection from other Provinces. That is only reasonable. But I suggest that such a defeat will diminish him far less than the charge by GAFCON-related sources that his office is no longer useful as an instrument of union.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 9:50pm GMT

Why, he wondered, should a Christian object to being known by her/his Christian name on a Christian site to which he/she contributes? Strikes me that an entirely reasonable distinction between contributors and third parties might be made here (though I can't imagine that Diarmaid/Revd. Prof Diarmaid. MacCulloch, Knight, would give two hoots about it: he's got far bigger things to consider than exactly what soubriquet is awarded him here, like his next TV series.) And given the umbrage that some folk can take when they're addressed as 'Dr' when they should be 'Prof', or 'Revd' when they prefer 'Fr' or 'Mr' when it should be 'Holy Father', Christian names might be taken as the safer option!

Henceforth I shall refuse to respond to any who fail to award me my full title of Revd. Fr. David Rowett SCP, Cert. Theol, B Rh+, MotNT (Member of the National Trust), Rural Dean of Yarborough, and consequently expect to lead a very quiet life.

Posted by: david rowett on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 10:18pm GMT

Despite cseitz's comments above, I still maintain that Archbishop Rowan is doing what he thinks is best for the cohesion of Communion solidarity - without perhaps recognising the fact that GAFCON has already 'walked away' from the Instruments - having absented themselves from both Eucharistic Fellowship with progressive Provinces at Lambeth, and also havgin refused the ABC's invitation to a Primates' Conference.

The present Covenant document - even with Section 4 in place - will likely not entice GAFCON back to Eucharistic Fellowship with TEC and the A.C.of C.

This would still leave the Covenanted Communion short of either GAFCON or TEC and the A.C.of C.
But we cannot blame the ABC for doing what he truly believes he has to do - by what he may see as the way of encouragement to reconciliation. The present Covenant is just not the right 'Instrument of Unity'.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 11:05pm GMT

It is unrealistic to think the Covenant will move forward without England and Canterbury.

I expect the ACC meeting later this year will shelve the whole process.

Then there will either be a period of calm reflection leading up to the next Lambeth Conference with intensive behind the scenes diplomacy from the new Primate of All England or I guess things could get a little chaotic. What has been happening at the AMiA being just a taste of things to come.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 11:12pm GMT

Fr Reynolds

"It is unrealistic to think the Covenant will move forward without England and Canterbury"

Why would that be so? The Covenant is to be considered by the Provinces of the Communion.

The idea that the 'ACC meeting' decides these matters is precisely what is now at stake. Or are you suggesting that Provinces will now be halted in their consideration processes? I sincerely doubt that, and I also doubt that the ABC would decide that the CofE's determination is somehow the Communion's determination.

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 at 12:39am GMT


The word is redounds.

And praise God for the diminishment of Bishops. They need diminishing. It's amazing that there's fabric enough to make miters to fit their heads.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 at 7:02am GMT


I apologize for the snappishness and snarking - it comes of long battle-weariness and shell-shock (see above "doctoral" comments, among others).

I believe the disproportion - to this point - comes from the shock on the part of Williams and Co. that anyone would actually question their authority. They took it as read that the Covenant would be a done deal. This isn't sarcasm, simply observation - there's a real disconnect between the expectations of CofE episcopacy and the rest of us.

I, personally, believe that this is the end of the Anglican Communion. The so-called Global South has departed, and, having gained headship over their own world empire, will not go back to being one of the boys. The foolish dream that they can be won back is just that. It was never about belief, or praxis, or authority, but the long-festering resentments at the Age of Empire coming back to bite all of us in the . . . West.

Similarly, despite prognostications to the contrary from liberal Anglo-Catholics, Canterbury's (to American minds) outrageous arrogance and obvious anti-American hatred (again, it's just a fact; sorry), have lost TEC, de facto, if not de jure, as the pew-sitters are too disgusted to be won over enough to believe tripe about brotherhood from Williams. The Covenant would lose TEC de jure, and, I have no doubt, the right-wing breakaway "anglican" communities would happily take the place of TEC as "official" Anglican communion reps. Meaningless, at that point, as the Communion's so-called authority would've been entirely reduced to its conservative wing in North America, intent on running the show through monetary means and cajolery, and the weaker-willed "moderates" of the CofE and Europe and bishops in the CofE, who are finding their own hard to command.

The whole thing was, I believe, a poorly-conceived vanity project to begin with. An attempt by bishops in the US and UK to play Catholic House in the 19th Century. It's time it went, as the 19th Century went, into the history books.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 at 7:19am GMT

David's comments are very appropriate (albeit ironically phrased).

Let's be clear about this. We at TA intend to host a Christian discussion. We expect it to be conducted with charity and courtesy on all sides.

That means no name-calling. It means referring to others appropriately: for people who frequent these pages it is generally acceptable to use their Christian names (and we encourage all commenters to use their real names; we will treat requests for anonymity individually). Using Christian names is itself a form of Christian respect. If people are acting in an official capacity then it may be appropriate to use official titles (and sometimes one might want to do that anyway).

When referring to people who do not frequent these pages then most certainly proper names and honorifics are encouraged -- not in a fawning or over-elaborate or sarcastic way, but simply as a courtesy. If a poster has difficulties with a title that someone uses then they should find an acceptable way of referring to that person.

Simon K
one of the TA editors

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 at 12:28pm GMT

Well, I did ask around (as anyone can) and the consensus I got was that the next ACC would likely kick the whole thing into touch. If it did so then I cannot imagine that happening with Rowan in opposition - especially as it might be his last outing as ABC.

The matter is still being considered by the Provinces, our Province is considering it next month irrespective of the English outcome. I am not sure what influence the English vote will have on ours, but come October I think this will "be suspended".

As to who "decides these things", it looks as if it is not the Primates, nor the Lambeth Conference - not even the ACC or ACO or ABC or his staff - but the people of the CofE who will make the difference. As I say how that works out at the top of the food chain, well, it's anyones' guess.

While I am drawn to Mark Brunson's assessment in his third paragraph above, I think he miscalculates the residual power of Canterbury and his apparatchiks in Lambeth and Westbourne Park and misses out the question of where the power hungry are going to get their money. But the power struggle is still at the heart of much of this.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 at 2:42pm GMT

This is as much name as I have. I use a moniker, but not to hide. My personal email is always attached to my posts.

Frank Douglas Blanchard, lowly pew-sitter of St. Luke in the Fields with no seminary education, resident of Brooklyn, undistinguished professor of fine art at an ivy league community college in the Bronx

Posted by: Frank Douglas Blanchard (aka Counterlight) on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 at 2:48pm GMT

Thank you very much, Mr Kershaw. If I wished to be called by my Christian name I would use it. I do not know the people at this site and I prefer not to call people by first names unless I know them. And I would not refer to Fr Rowett as 'wee David.'

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 at 3:28pm GMT

Fr Reynolds writes: "The matter is still being considered by the Provinces." Quite right. There are more than thirty yet to go.

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 at 4:31pm GMT

That's fine :) While raised in the CofE, I spent many years in TEC while at college in the States and have an abiding love of it. I am saddened to see the fraying of bonds of affection.

Posted by: Paul on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 at 5:57pm GMT

Thank you for your correction of my (though borrowed from a previous posting) spelling of redounds. Even in New Zealand, you are quite correct. I had a feeling that something was wrong, but in my efforts to respond to arguments strongly but with appropriate respect, I neglected to question the spelling.

I guess part of my mediocrity as an Anglican (no, not Episcopalian in this outpost of the Communion) is some mediocrity in proofreeeeding and speling.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 at 8:52pm GMT

Regardless of the Archbishop's feelings, for which I have due respect, under article 4.2.8 of the document, should the Church of England not adopt it, the Archbishop will not be eligible to participate in decision-making of the [Joint] Standing Committee [of the Primates and the ACC] when it comes to Covenant matters. That might be all to the good, as it will allow him to preserve the neutrality becoming of an Instrument of Communion.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 at 9:50pm GMT

Fr Haller

"might be all to the good" -- certainly not for the ABC. I accept that is not your own concern.

But of course we don't really know what covenant adopters might extend in the way of associations, even for the ABC.

And, given the obvious centrality of the ABC office, one doubts that we now have the whole story. This is what it means for the Covenant to be defeated (as No people want and others expect) in the CofE.

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 at 11:45pm GMT

Indeed, Dr. Seitz, I shall be more formal in future.

However, I did find much of your commentary to be a load of tosh.

Archbishop Williams will decide for himself, ultimately, whether a defeat on this issue in the Church of England constitutes a vote of non-confidence in him as Archbishop of Canterbury. Certainly no one speaking from the No Anglican Covenant Coalition has ever suggested that it should be so interpreted, and indeed, the spontaneous offering of following motions affirms that.

Archbishops of Canterbury have seen their positions rejected before and have somehow managed to survive - Archbishop Ramsey's defeat on matters relating to ecumenical relations being one example. I suppose he could have chosen to nail his colours irrevocably to that mast and insisted on going down with the proposal. He did not.

Now, admittedly, I don't believe Archbishop Ramsey had surrogates wandering about the countryside framing the debate in terms of "loyalty," and so it will perhaps be a trifle harder for Dr. Williams.

But unlike, for example, the Prime Minister in a Westminster style Parliamentary system, the Archbishop of Canterbury's tenure does not depend on retaining the confidence of the General Synod. And even in that analogy, it is not that uncommon for Prime Ministers (particularly in the Mother of Parliaments) to face defeat on initiatives yet to retain office.

At the end of the day, Archbishop Williams will be as "damaged" as he chooses to be should the Anglican Covenant be defeated.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Thursday, 15 March 2012 at 12:41am GMT

Actually, Edward, it was a (former) Episcopalian who insists on being a "doctor" and institute head who misspelled it to begin with.

I'm sorry you've chosen to be hurt by assuming that my reference to Williams as a mediocre Anglican was a reference to you. However, I believe Simon Sarmiento did say you were all mediocre Anglicans. My insistence that I am an Episcopalian, not Anglican, is an insistence that we realize we are *not* the same. We are different. If such a reality is hurtful, it is the reality that is hurtful, not its acknowledgement.

It is odd that we can share a world with so many others who are not only not Anglican, but not Christian, and yet cannot tolerate the existence of one another without unless we all use the same name. By their selective love they will be but selectively known.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 15 March 2012 at 4:22am GMT

"While I am drawn to Mark Brunson's assessment in his third paragraph above, I think he miscalculates the residual power of Canterbury and his apparatchiks in Lambeth and Westbourne Park . . ."

My point is that Canterbury and Co. are limited in that residual power to their own milieu. The ACC is gone and done, as a fact. The power that will be exercised by a Canterbury of the future with the hard-right groups of America as the official representatives will be operated only with those representatives constantly interfering, threatening, and manipulating, and will mean nothing, either to the average Episcopalian or the average American. The money will come from the same place the elements in the Global South have gotten it - outside right-wing parties intent on control or destruction of any religious entity calling itself Christian.

The reality of this struggle is, with the withdrawal of the Global South to its own realm, is between Christianity and right-wing politics in the West - Japan, Europe, South America, are largely ignored, as they always have been (shameful, but true), because their concerns are not the politics of dominance but the spread of the Gospel, so, even if they stay in the AC, it will make little difference to a structure built on the politics of power. In the end, it will be a structure without the clout of numbers or money of Rome, and yet populated, in North America, by people with personal wealth used to promote a particular political agenda of right-wing totalitarianism, and Canterbury will either back it or find itself on the receiving end of the vengeance of its vengeful American "child." This, regardless of the actual effectiveness and necessity of American wealth, will hamper and eventually destroy what tiny influence and ability the AC would have left to accomplish anything outside of the UK.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 15 March 2012 at 6:28am GMT

"This is what it means for the Covenant to be defeated (as No people want and others expect) in the CofE."

Or maybe this is what it means for the Covenant to be so sloppily drawn up that there isn't even a clear pathway for what happens if a large minority doesn't adopt it or if the CoE doesn't adopt it.

I must say, I am absolutely astonished that people have to speculate what happens to the role of the ABC if the CoE should not adopt the Covenant and that this crucial question has not been anticipated.

To me, it highlights precisely what is wrong with the whole way this Covenant has been conceived - from the top down with an almost staggering certainty that everyone at the lower ends of the hierarchy will just rubber stamp what their elders and betters tell them.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 15 March 2012 at 7:21am GMT

c.r.seitz - is it your suggestion that the Church of England has to sign the "covenant" to remain a full part of the Anglican Communion? That does rather suggest that the reconfiguration suggested by the "covenant" has already taken place and that the "instruments" already have power to exclude, and that the Church of England has somehow committed itself to being excluded if there is a no vote. And that seems rather cart before horse to me. Though some people do suggest the "covenant" is the only game in town, and that "no" is not an option, this is not and cannot be the case. It looks, for example, as though New Zealand will be unable to sign up. So there will be a group who are willing to sign, and a group who are not - those content to sign might want to believe that they are the only ones at the party, but those who don't could well be an influential group. The fact that the word "covenant" is the wrong one will then be evident in the fact that it will have established division rather than secured unity. That division will not be repaired by getting others to sign after all - processes based on relationships rather than pieces of paper will be required.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Thursday, 15 March 2012 at 7:42am GMT

Dr Seitz is an Episcopalian, on the staff of Church of the Incarnation, Dallas, Texas, as shown here

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 15 March 2012 at 8:44am GMT

I now understand there is a move afoot to suspend discussion of the Covenant at the upcoming Governing Body here in Wales.

I did say (and it was the key phrase), in any event that "come October I think this will "be suspended".

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 15 March 2012 at 11:25am GMT

Mr. Bennet, in a word, No. Kindly re-read what I wrote. (In addition, the Covenant in any event does not determine AC membership). My remarks are about the role of ABC as Instrument inside the covenant Communion vision he himself promoted.

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Thursday, 15 March 2012 at 1:10pm GMT

Thank you Mr Sarmiento, and for avoidance of doubt, I remain an Episcopal Priest and Canon of the Diocese of Dallas though I am also Research Professor at Wycliffe College in the University of Toronto where I direct PhD students; I remained an Episcopal Priest when I held a chair for ten years at the University of St Andrews in the UK; and when I was Professor of Old Testament at Yale (a non-episcopal school). I do not insist 'on calling myself doctor.' I do not prefer to call people I do not know by first names, as I was raised to believe it impolite. I do not believe it polite or Christian conduct to refer to people by 'wee Simon' (Sarmiento, etc). I am sorry to have to spell this out.

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Thursday, 15 March 2012 at 1:18pm GMT

Again, I find much to nod at in what MarkBrunson says - but the Anglican Communion is not going to vanish as he suggests, There are significant networks below the radar that don't divide as easily as he writes.

TEC itself remains a complex set of networks and what once may have been seen as vulnerability - its lack of cohesion - is now going to be a significant advantage.

Those who favour firm lines and clearer boundaries are in for a hard ride.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 15 March 2012 at 6:57pm GMT

c.r.seitz - Thanks for clarification, Glad to separate reality from rhetoric. Too much rhetoric, too little reality so far, I think.

And just to note that I am not MarkBrunson - Christian names are all very well, but ambiguity is confusing. I do tell baptism parties that I didn't write the Gospel - to avoid confusion, but my mother is still hoping ...

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Thursday, 15 March 2012 at 10:37pm GMT

Mr Bennet--you are welcome.

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Friday, 16 March 2012 at 2:02am GMT

I didn't say it was going to vanish, Martin.

Simply stop mattering at all outside of itself and its officials' minds.

The Flat Earth Society exists. How much does it influence your daily routine?

The Communion that you're speaking of "under the radar" is, by virtue of being under the radar, not the AC (pat.pend., marcas registrada), but individual relationships.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 16 March 2012 at 4:19am GMT

A picky point, but at least 2 commenters have used the word 'redowns'. I do not know of it. Could they possibly mean 'redounds' - meaning 'accredits greatly to someone's esteem or honour'?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 17 March 2012 at 2:10am GMT

""It is unrealistic to think the Covenant will move forward without England and Canterbury" Why would that be so? The Covenant is to be considered by the Provinces of the Communion". - cseitz -

It is going to be a very interesting meeting of the A.C.C. in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The host country will likely have rejected the Covenant, but that will not prevent us making people welcome.

It will be Archbishop Rowan's last ACC Meeting, and he will have a right good send-off.

However, what worries me is the possibility that GAFCON Provinces may just decide to turn up on this occasion - feeling they could swing a take-over bid for the Communion, under the guise of approving of the Covenant (of which they have said they do not approve). Could be tricky!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 17 March 2012 at 8:32am GMT

Would be helpful to have a calendar schedule of the provinces' taking up the covenant over the coming months.

Fr French, SE Asia and Southern Cone have adopted, and the latter is a Gafcon Province.

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Saturday, 17 March 2012 at 5:52pm GMT

Sorry, meant 'Fr Smith' not 'French.'

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Saturday, 17 March 2012 at 9:16pm GMT
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