Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Anglican Covenant - reference to dioceses

updated Thursday

The Business Committee of the General Synod is required to report on the reference of the Anglican Communion Covenant to the dioceses. Their report GS 1878 is now available for download and will be debated at Synod on 19 November 2012.

The report includes the detailed voting figures from each diocese, and some analysis of these figures such as the following two paragraphs.

9. It will be seen … that the majorities within individual dioceses varied greatly. In some, the draft Act of Synod adopting the Covenant was either approved or rejected by substantial majorities. In others the voting in the House of Laity or House of Clergy or both of the houses was very close. Thus, in eleven dioceses which did not approve the Act of Synod, it would have been approved if between two and eight individuals had voted in favour rather than against. Conversely, in fifteen dioceses which did approve the Act of Synod, it would not have been approved if between one and eight individuals had voted against rather than in favour.

10. The point can be illustrated in another way by noting that, if a total of just seventeen individuals spread across five particular dioceses had voted to support the Covenant rather than oppose it, a bare majority of dioceses would have approved the Covenant, whereas, if a total of just ten across five other dioceses had voted against instead of in favour, the diocesan voting against the Covenant would have been much greater at 31-13.

The report also includes the recorded opinions of the Archbishop of York and the Bishops of Chester and Sodor & Man, and a list of the following motions that were debated in several dioceses.

Update This report was originally published in June along with the papers for the July meeting of Synod. It received little attention at the time as the focus for July was wholly on the topic of women bishops. At the time we made reference to it here, here and here. The current link to the report is on this page, which will eventually list all the papers for the November Synod.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 at 6:32pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

And the point is? There was a procedure for deciding the matter of the Covenant and the issue failed. Yes, if the procedure had been different, the result may have been different as well. But it wasn’t.

Perhaps we should have just let the Archbishop of Canterbury decide.

Perhaps we should just acknowledge that the Covenant lost and the matter is (and should be) dead.

Posted by: Liionel Deimel on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 at 7:40pm BST

The covenant is dead.

Posted by: Susannah on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 at 7:54pm BST

Considering the pressure put on the Dioceses to vote for the Covenant ,it is a miracle that it was defeated and hardly surprising that the voting in the laity wsa so close.Even then it could not be claimed that the Covenant offered a united way forward.

The Bishops are up to their tricks again.All the statements on the Covenant are in favour Not one of the seven bishops who had the courage to vote against has been asked to give their opinion.

Instead of wasting more time on the Covenant the Communion should concentrate on making the traditional ways of Anglicanism work better, based on the Bible , Reason , and Tradition and rooted in a shared history.

Above all the Communion must work on its commomn mission ,while recognising that its implementation will vary in different Provinces owing to their culture and the mores of society.

Posted by: Jean Mayland on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 at 8:17pm BST

Yes, but .....

If the diocese such as Lichfield had actually engaged in a real debate rather than ask a declared proponent to give a balanced view ......

Otherwise the vote was lost

This summary gives a "hanging chads" impression of the outcome ..... I think that is unhelpful if one is not willing to also recognise the skewed voting that came when there was no real debate.

In a way - it's all part of this glamour the Church of England likes to flourish within, that dream world where gay people are still evil perverts they are willing to tolerate with compassion.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 at 9:12pm BST

Let's hope that they take note of the end result of the voting. This is not an issue that should be revived. Far from uniting, the Anglican Covenant would be deeply divisive and exclusive in nature. It was a bad idea promoted simply because once it had been suggested by the ABC no-one had the gumption to actually get up and say it should be dropped.

Posted by: Richard Thornburgh on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 at 9:21pm BST

"And if your aunt had been your uncle", as my mother used to say.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 at 9:47pm BST

Just what point are they trying to make in paragraphs 9 and 10?

The Covenant was rejected by a majority of English Diocesan Synods - that's it.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 at 10:00pm BST

It's hard (or perhaps all to easy) to understand why the Business Committee finds it appropriate to include this "as-if" commentary. There was a process and the process yielded a result, which was clearly against signing up to the covenant. I only hope that members of Synod will be alert enough to realise that --- not least because of setting dangerous precedents --- they should resist any attempt to overturn the results of the diocesan votes, however close they were in some cases. If the boot were on the other foot, and it had passed in a small majority of dioceses even by a single vote, I somehow doubt that there would have been this sort of analysis done.

If members of Synod feel that the business committee has exceeded its brief in producing this analysis (rather than just printing the figures) then an appropriate action would, I suppose, be to oppose the usual formal acceptance of the Business Committee's work.

Posted by: Bernard Silverman on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 at 11:06pm BST

Jean - All diocesan bishops have the right to have their distinct opinion recorded in the minutes of their diocesan synod and included in this report from the business committee. The seven who voted against could have done so if they wished.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 at 11:32pm BST

Frankly, the report is more balanced than I had expected, having seen the degree to which the desperate proponents of this failed policy were trying to spin the numbers a few weeks ago.

At para ten, the authors acknowledge that the "should'a, could'a, would'a" argument cuts both ways:

"The point can be illustrated in another way by noting that, if a total of just seventeen
individuals spread across five particular dioceses had voted to support the Covenant
rather than oppose it, a bare majority of dioceses would have approved the Covenant,
whereas, if a total of just ten across five other dioceses had voted against instead of in
favour, the diocesan voting against the Covenant would have been much greater
at 31-13."

What the report (probably properly) omits is the frankly unethical tactics used in some dioceses to ensure that the "no" side did not get a fair hearing.

At the end of the day, the miracle is not that the aggregate vote was close, but rather that a synodical insurrection with the support of a wee band of bloggers managed to take on the combined organization heft of Lambeth Palace, the Anglican Communion Office and Church House and win.

If Manchester United lost to the children from the local Church of England Primary School, I can assure you that the headlines would not dwell on how ManU kept it close.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 6:05am BST

Could've, would've, should've. Sorry, Business Committee.

Posted by: Nathan on Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 7:53am BST

I think the "as if" commentary is quite helpful because it shows just how narrow the vote was and therefore how the church is split right down the middle on this issue.

If anyone seriously considered a resurrection of the process they would only need to refer to this to see that he would have as many people on his side as against him and that the Covenant can therefore never create any kind of unity.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 8:46am BST

One may only hope that the House of Bishops doesn't fiddle with the figures on the Covenant rejection. A bit of legerdemain can make a difference when people are not looking.

Why can the Church of England not actually admit that the Covenant process has failed - not only in the Church of England Dioceses, but also in most Provinces around the world. It doesn't seem to matter which side of the arguments about gender and sexuality one stands; the outcome is plainly obvious. The Anglican Covenant is a NO-GO.

We have already seen how Bishops can alter the outcome of diocesan synods - and even General Synod - on the issue of women as Bishops. Don't, please, repeat the process with the Covenant.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 10:52am BST

A resounding Amen to Erika's point. Any document or process designed as a "basic way forward for Anglicanism" should need overwhelming support or it is doomed from the outset. The Covenant debate has introduced more tension, rather than alleviating it. It has given the church something more to argue about. It is a matter of division, not its solution.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:25pm BST

Fr Ron
There is no way for the House of Bishop to "fiddle with the figures" on covenant rejection. The provisions which allowed the bishops to modify the women bishops legislation do not apply here.
There remains a possibility that somebody will propose starting the process again on the Covenant. That could not now begin until 2013. But whether it makes any sense depends on what the Anglican Consultative Council decides to do about the Covenant at its forthcoming meeting. That too will be reported to the General Synod in November.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 4:27pm BST

Good heavens - this sounds embarrassingly like someone asking for 'best out of three' when they lose the toss.

I can see that the Covenant is (even more) unworkable if the C of E hasn't signed up to it. Rather than trying to find a 'fix' for the inconvenient outcome of the Diocesan Synod votes, is it too much to ask that those who were so keen to push the Covenant ask themselves if those who didn't want it might have a point?

Posted by: Pam Smith on Saturday, 13 October 2012 at 4:20pm BST

Won't be "best out of three" Pam. Voting will quit the instant they win - if they win.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer on Saturday, 13 October 2012 at 5:23pm BST
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