Thursday, 18 February 2016

Questions on Anglican Covenant and relational consequences

During Questions on Monday evening, the following exchanges occurred.

The Revd Canon Andrew Godsall (Exeter) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:

Q18 Could the House be invited to reflect on the recent Primates’ Meeting and, if so, what undertaking might be given for particular reflection on whether it was appropriate to adopt an approach involving ‘relational consequences’ in relation to a member province of the Anglican Communion in the light of the fact that a majority of the dioceses in the Church of England declined to approve the Anglican Communion Covenant?

The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply as Chair of the House of Bishops:

A The House received a report on the Primates meeting along with members of the College when they met in January. The Primates addressed the impact on relationships within the Anglican Communion when any Province makes a unilateral change in doctrine. They have set out specific consequences in the functioning of the Communion and a task group will be appointed to carry forward the implications of their decision.

Supplementary Questions (transcribed from the audio recording)

Andrew Godsall:

Is there a difference between the specific consequences referred to in the answer and the relational consequences envisaged in section 4.2.7 of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant that the dioceses of the Church of England rejected. And if there is, what is it?

Archbishop of Canterbury:

Thank you, that’s a very interesting question. The Covenant was not considered at all during the Primates Meeting. I don’t… I think it may have been mentioned once in passing. And therefore the way in which the consequences were looked at was not related to the Covenant in any way at all. I think to the best of my knowledge no more than 16, it may have only been 11, provinces have actually signed up to the Covenant. Therefore the vast majority would not consider it relevant in considering this. So there was no link.

Dr Rachel Jepson:

Would the House of Bishops also then take the opportunity to discuss plans to impose similar relational consequences for those provinces that support the criminalisation of homosexuality and in so doing are in breach of the Lambeth resolution.

Archbishop of Canterbury:

Thank you very much. I hope it’s clear that the House of Bishops was not involved in the Primates Meeting. It was the Primates Meeting, and the House of Bishops has not imposed any relational consequences in any way at all. As I hope I made clear earlier, such consequences are those at Communion level, and cannot bind any particular province. Having said that, I think the point you raise is a very, very important one. And if you look at the communiqué, which you will find on the primates meeting website, you will find that there is a very, very clear statement of the longstanding opposition of the Anglican Communion to the criminalisation of LGBTI people. And given that that is a very important part of the thinking of the Anglican Communion in this area, one could anticipate that the primates when they meet, were someone to be advocating such, would need to consider that. If they were to continue to advocate it since the primates meeting we just had. But I am one vote out of 38 and I couldn’t possibly predict or anticipate what the outcome would be. But thank you.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 18 February 2016 at 5:57pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | General Synod

It wouldn't take much of a barrister in a court to start suggesting dishonesty in the answer, that it sure quacks like a duck so you don't need to name it as a duck to have the duck quacking away. Mind, there is more substance in a duck's quack than there is in this use of the word 'consequences'. What ever happened to honesty and calling a spade a spade instead of engaging in some wordplay choreography?

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 18 February 2016 at 7:18pm GMT

"And therefore the way in which the consequences were looked at was not related to the Covenant in any way at all."

Yes, I'm sure that many Primates, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, would prefer to forget that the so-called Anglican Covenant (which was neither) failed to pass in the Church of England.

The point of the question was that the so-called Anglican Covenant was to be the means by which to create some measure of power, at the Communion level, to impose relational consequences.

The Covenant flopped. But the Primates went ahead and purported to grab the power for themselves anyway.

This sort of extra-legal behavior has to be resisted, and resisted strenuously.

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 18 February 2016 at 7:21pm GMT

Andrew Godsall is one of the new intake of Synod - this is an excellent and fearless question about a subject that needs some light and not heat.

Posted by: Nicholas Henderson on Thursday, 18 February 2016 at 10:08pm GMT

Act two, scene two. A room in the castle.

Polonius: "What do you read, my lord?"
Hamlet: "Words, words, words."

Posted by: Dennis on Thursday, 18 February 2016 at 10:18pm GMT

So much for Andrew Godsall's attempt to raise the spectre of the 'Anglican Covenant'. This is already a dead duck as far as the Church of England (and many of the other Provinces of the Anglican Communion) are concerned - as the Archbishop of Canterbury rightfully reminded him.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 18 February 2016 at 11:02pm GMT

"They [the Primates] have set out specific consequences in the functioning of the Communion and a task group will be appointed to carry forward the implications of their decision."

With which the Archbishop of Canterbury had nothing to do? And will have nothing to do?

Come now, Archbishop. Did you vote yes on the "consequences," or did you abstain?

And will you now lead the effort to "carry forward the implications of" the consequences? Even though the Church of England has flatly rejected the notion that any consequences may be imposed?

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 18 February 2016 at 11:12pm GMT

Father Ron, you are completely missing the point of Canon Godsall's excellent question.

As you say, the so-called Anglican Covenant is as dead as a doornail.

That being so, why is the Archbishop of Canterbury behaving as though the Church of England approved it?

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 19 February 2016 at 12:43am GMT

Listening to the ABC here, it seems in terms of diversity, I think the CofE has consecrated the first member of Mustela nivalis ("least weasel").

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 19 February 2016 at 4:12am GMT

Poor Justin Welby seems to be falling prey to the old adage re clergy that in the first three years of a new ministry they can do no wrong, in the second three years they can do no right and in the third three years no one cares what they do. I do not look forward to the years 2019 to 2021, which, of course, includes the C of E's crunch year 2020! Be afraid, be very afraid. Unless, that is, Reform and Renewal - sorry - Renewal and Reform comes to our rescue and with one bound we are free and William Temple's dream becomes a reality and England is converted.

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 19 February 2016 at 5:12am GMT


Posted by: Susannah Clark on Friday, 19 February 2016 at 5:51am GMT

Fr Ron,
I think you may have misunderstood Andrew Godsall's question. The Covenant is dead, that is precisely it. It was defeated because the Dioceses in the CoE did not want an unelected body to be able to impose "relational consequences" on any decision General Synod might make.

And yet, relational consequences is precisely what the last Primate Meeting is trying to impose on TEC.

Which is why Andrew is 100% right to question the Archbishops just what they thought they were doing.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 19 February 2016 at 9:34am GMT

Why does Welby remind me of Nathan Thurm?

"I'm aware that the Covenant hasn't been approved! Why would you think I think it's been approved? It's just so funny that you would think that."

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 19 February 2016 at 10:44am GMT

Rachel's question is good though are people here really happy to have both consequences? As a evangelical I have no hesitation is suggesting provinces that support criminalisation are entirely wrong but that I also think ECUSA is also, are people here happy to support both?

Posted by: Paul on Friday, 19 February 2016 at 10:47am GMT

There's a lot of talk about ducks above (to say nothing of weasels). To add to it, isn't the ABC ducking the questions?

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Friday, 19 February 2016 at 2:10pm GMT

no, I don't support "consequences" at all. Nor does the CoE, officially, that's why it voted against the Anglican Covenant.

The Anglican Communion is a group of independent national churches. Their independence is to be respected.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 19 February 2016 at 2:22pm GMT

There should be no consequences for disagreement with a consensus that is less than complete. We do not take the vote away from minorities, because they are minorities, nor do we interfere with the process of reception (or rejection) by preemptive removal of the matter from the table.

Of course, Nicodemus and Gamaliel were ignored when they suggested allowing for time and examination to proceed, so there is some precedent for dismissing proposals out of hand -- just not a very good precedent.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 19 February 2016 at 3:07pm GMT

" As a evangelical I have no hesitation is suggesting provinces that support criminalisation are entirely wrong but that I also think ECUSA is also, are people here happy to support both?"

I don't think one has to "support" both, but I do believe that we must all agree to come to the same table, in Jesus' name. Punitive actions are deeply un-Christian, as un-Christian as refusing to worship with the "other." I even take communion with people who cross themselves with the wrong number of fingers, a burning issue over which wars have been fought.

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Friday, 19 February 2016 at 6:43pm GMT

I see something that has been rolling along at least since Rowan didn't invite Gene Robinson to the last Lambeth conference,but no one calls it by its name. If some bishops (a largish group I guess) say they won't come to Lambeth if XYZ are also invited, or that they won't come to the primates' meeting unless KLM (not a member of the Anglican Communion) is also invited, or if they say there must be "consequences" or we're walking out, isn't that a form of extortion? And why would the ABC give in to extortion which surely is an unChristian form of manoeuvring? I suppose some might call it mitigation, but it looks a lot like extortion to me.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Saturday, 20 February 2016 at 10:48am GMT

Sara McVane - no point coming up with clever arguments..... If the majority of provinces don't want tec and its friends in the AC, why not set up a global organisation in which liberals don't have to compromise their principles for years ... It was a disgrace TEC accepted bishop Robinson not being invited to Lambeth 08..... Why still compromise to be in the club. Make a new global communion in which there won't be all the nonsense we have had for decades already. Why is tec so desperate to be in Rowan and Justin's club??? Life with tec (global) would be so much more filled with integrity

Posted by: S Cooper on Sunday, 21 February 2016 at 3:12pm GMT

Paul, this false equivalence between equality and criminalization shows the utter bankruptcy of the "moderate" position.

In other areas, moderates themselves recognize this: you would, I can safely assume, be horrified at the suggestion that a church that married interracial couples be "consequenced" alongside a church that supported apartheid and anti-miscegenation laws. Because you believe that racism's evil, you wouldn't dream of compromising on this point. When it comes to racism, most none of us are "moderates."

Why, then, d'you expect those who believe that LGBT inequality is wrong to compromise, and why should they? This position's only viewed as unreasonable and hardline because it's currently unpopular in church circles. As acceptance of LGBT people spreads and entrenches in society, that'll change.

Posted by: James Byron on Tuesday, 23 February 2016 at 6:36am GMT
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