Comments: Anglican Covenant views

I find it interesting that both the CAPA statement and the "Anglican Communion Institute" led by Ephraim Radner have said that the Anglican Covenant as it stands is inadequate. Who's left to cheer for it?

Posted by Sarah Dylan Breuer at Monday, 6 September 2010 at 9:57pm BST

With regard to the Anglican Covenant and Canada, there is a lot of indignation about the covenant in Malcolm's piece. However I can't help noticing that the noises being made about communion level advocates of the covenant is matched by a stony silence with regard to structures in the Canadian church. There is the suggestion to get folks opposed to the covenant involved in governance gatherings. However, at Canada's most recent General Synod, parliamentary debate on sexuality issues was replaced with well managed small group discussion in the service of a hoped for pre-determined outcome. It will be interesting to see if a real debate and vote on the covenant will comes to pass 2013--or will there be another love in of the like minded? There are also a number of questions that must be answered about process, such as which National Committee will be tasked with overseeing the "study", who will get to frame the question that goes to GS ( s/he who frames the question has the tactical advantage), and what role the House of Bishops will play ( both openly and more importantly in their regular in camera meetings) in the lead up to synod in determining the shape of the covenant's presentation to synod. Unless the conformist Canadian Church mindset evolves into an articulate critical mass (no pun intended), I suspect the covenant decision in Canada will take the path that leads to the least amount of controversy.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Tuesday, 7 September 2010 at 1:12am BST

One can only hope that individual diocesan synods around the world will detect the underlying snares attached to acceptance of the Covenant as it stands. The reasons for both conservative and liberal protesters are, of course, very different: For CANA & the Global South, it does not concretely support their homophobia and sola scriptura agenda; while for us liberals, it shows all the signs of a proscriptive and hierarchical tendency towards control - in the papal direction.

Bishops of the Communion need to educate their diocesan and parochial organisations in the possibilities of what this Covenant could mean for their national and local Churches - in the way of loss of local identity and quest for mission in their own contexts. Rule from the centre - be it Canterbury or Nigeria - should not be allowed to quench the Holy Spirit's fire.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 7 September 2010 at 1:46am BST

It’s certainly clear that the covenant is not everything the ultraconservatives would like. Do we think they are criticizing it because they believe they can get a stronger draft put forward and approved? I doubt it. I suspect that the detractors on the right would be happy to have the current draft approved; it will transform the Communion, which can be further centralized and made more autocratic in due time. The criticism from the right, I assert, is intended to help convince moderates that the covenant is really acceptable. After all, if it is criticized from both the right and from the left, must it not represent the golden via media?

The answer, of course, is no. The covenant is in every way a bad idea, and only evil will come of its adoption.

Posted by Lionel Deimel at Tuesday, 7 September 2010 at 3:01am BST

I think the Covenant is dead in the water now. Meanwhile there are now two de facto Anglican Communions. There is a group still stuck in the middle but they will probably end up casualties of the polarization. So make your choice. Could the separation be accomplished nicely and with charity and grace? I would hope so, but fear not.

Posted by Ian Montgomery at Tuesday, 7 September 2010 at 5:20am BST

What is this latest Global South meeting about in London? These boys, and they mostly are boys, seem to think they are on a (who pays for these lofty/selfrighteous take-over-a-thons?) roll...perhaps the GS has come to pressure the ABC that he ¨takes the Covenant¨ further as advised in Entebbe last week? Instead of fussing about what the Anglican Communion ¨doesn´t do¨ these outspoken preachers must stop imposing themselves on others and should stay home and deal with the vertical corruption and vile deadly actions of civil war/outcasting in and about their religious and cultural communities...the Global South have no superior standing in the ¨morals¨ department simply because their laity are persecuted and have no other place to go except to God. If one stands back and views the conservativelike unholy rebellion at the Anglican Communion it truly is seeped in harming others, demonizing others, theivery and generally corrupt at the core...the idea that the entire Anglican Communion ought ¨follow¨ such men in their tainted/forced leadership demand/enterprise shows the depth of the spiritual infirmity we´ve come to view as NORMAL at The Anglican Communion. Where is the REAL moral leadership at The Body of Christ?

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Tuesday, 7 September 2010 at 3:55pm BST

Do hope people look at it sooner rather than later. If there are major problems, they aren't going to be resolved in the last 30 days, unless there is a dynamic and pressure leading up to that. Better to study it early, identify the issues, suggest alternatives and agree where the lines must not be crossed. If everyone has had a fair chance to contemplate and collaborate, then no nasty document will be foisted upon an unsuspecting Communion. The members of the Communion can make it a palatable document, or junk it if it is without merit and only a tool of oppression.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Tuesday, 7 September 2010 at 8:24pm BST

The communion document as it stands presents issues for both the left and the right. The right may fear that it is unenforceable and the left fears what it will become. This reminds me a bit of a dialogue Matt Kennedy had with Ephraim Radner (reputed to be a centrist) had some time ago on whether or not the GS should attend Lambeth. Kennedy feared it could be viewed as conciliar and authoritative. Radner argued that it could and that is why the GS should attend viz: "As far as I can see, Matt’s reaction is on the level of “I don’t want Lambeth to be read in terms analagous to Nicea or Constantinople—i.e. as a council of the Church—and therefore I shall insist that it isn’t.” My point is that it could be seen as such, in the light of the Holy Spirit’s calling and promise. It really is a question of what one wants. And why would one wish it were otherwise, except that one simply doesn’t want to be seen with the likes of TEC bishops? What I don’t get is why an overwhelming majority of traditional bishops from around the world should worry about being at a meeting of prayer and counsel, at which a puny handful of marginal dissidents from some confused and tiny Western churches is also present? Let Lambeth 2008 finish what Lambeth 1998 began. Arguments to the effect of 'but TEC hasn’t listened and cannot be trusted' are all true! I have made them ad nauseum along with the rest of everyone on this blog. But so what? Nigeria, Uganda, and so on all have the numbers on their side by a long shot. Let us then see the Spirit uphold their witness. Or do we doubt that too?
Posted by Ephraim Radner on 06-06-2007 at 05:16 AM"

What Radner suggested above is that the conference could morph into something else, particularly if Nigeria and Uganda showed up with the needed numbers. My question to Radner+ is, following on his suggestions to the GAFCON primates, should the left just sign the covenant agreement and hope, given its ACC political clout vs. the above numbers, work to change the rules later? Should TEC sign, that will be the accusation. But surely, given Mr. Radner's advice, it is not TEC alone that has developed this kind of strategy.

Posted by EmilyH at Tuesday, 7 September 2010 at 8:33pm BST

Emily's concern is valid. The response is that souls that play numbers games are merely oppressors by another name. (It is also why we should not wait until the last minute to contemplate and respond).

Just because some Christians hearts are selfish, and their imaginations small, does not mean that God is either selfish nor small.

God has the ability to make provision for each and every soul.

It is those that refuse to make provision who are limited, not those who open their hearts and minds to God's bigger, all-embracing vision.

We don't have to all live in the same house to have a safe house, and destroying another's house does not make our own safe.

My concerns about this document is that it is about creating an exclusive safe house, that does not acknowledge the diversity within Christianity, let alone humanity, let alone this universe, or the multiverse reality.

Let priests who cannot cope with something more than themselves be honest with their fear, rather than trying to destroy that which they refuse to understand, even if they could.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Wednesday, 8 September 2010 at 6:06am BST

@ Ian Montgomery, Who do you think should separate from what?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 8 September 2010 at 4:43pm BST

Good Heavens, the idea that Lambeth could be seen in the same light as Nicea is absolutely laughable. Even if you ignore all the assurances given when the Conferences started that it would not be legislative, at best it would be a "local" council. It couldn't possibly be taken to speak for the entire Church. It really does make Radner look silly (and Kennedy as the soul of reason, oddly enough).

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Wednesday, 8 September 2010 at 6:31pm BST

@EmilyH: "What Radner suggested above is that the [Lambeth] conference could morph into something else, particularly if Nigeria and Uganda showed up with the needed numbers.."

Of course. And so could the Covenant, or the Primates' Meeting, or anything else if Minns, Duncan, et. al. are able to control it and "morph" it into a needed tool. Their goal is complete control of the US Episcopal Church and they have a proven willingness to use any means necessary to achieve it,

So far they have failed. Will they ever stop trying? No. Will they eventually succeed? Yes. They already do control the Primates' Meeting, GAFCON, and CAPA. Is there any resistance? None at all from Lambeth Palace. A little handwringing from the usual liberal sources.

"Should TEC sign, that will be the accusation." But should TEC not sign, that too will be the accusation. Either way, TEC will be condemned, unless, by some chance, the ACO is able to block our expulsion. But if that happens, then the Covenant will be abandoned as useless and the ACO destroyed.

What then is to be done? TEC should choose its own time and conditions and withdraw itself as rapidly as possible from the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Charlotte at Wednesday, 8 September 2010 at 6:43pm BST


I suggested in May that we withdraw from the Anglican Communion, at least for a time. (I described the idea as a sabbatical.) My suggestion didn’t get a lot of traction. You can read it here:

Posted by Lionel Deimel at Wednesday, 8 September 2010 at 11:27pm BST

From my perspective as a member of the Diocese of Springfield:

We are a lamb being led to slaughter. The brightness of our ideas surfaces from time to time, rising and peeking through the fabric of our traditions, only to be woven over and suppressed by those who fear freedom of expression.

How easy it is to lose track of the teachings of Jesus by stepping into the web of political wrangling that gains its purpose in the squelching of sources of controversy for the purpose of presenting a unified front.

Central control is the objective. I met Greg Venables a few years ago when the Bishop invited him to speak. He predicted that we, TEC, would travel deeper onto a dark road leading to schism.

His eyes were like a doll's eyes.

Posted by Ken Gill Cole at Thursday, 9 September 2010 at 8:14am BST

Given that Lambeth was not to be viewed as legislative, Radner+s comments, taken as he is viewed as "moderate" are all the more telling. Trust is a huge issue. Trust that TEC will comply without being forced (Article4) and Trust that the GS will not impose further measures, ---the 39 Articles, Athanasian Creed etc. as well as its specific biblical exegesis. TEC has already voluntarily stepped aside from the ACC. What happened? Dromantine happened Nottingham happened. The GS attempted to pack the ACC with primates and, with the standing committee, taken a firm step in the direction of a magisterium. But I am not sure that failing to show up is the answer. I do not like Radner+'s strategy. To me it lacks integrity and if TEC should adopt it, I would be disappointed. To the GS's credit, maybe it saw its attendance at Lambeth the same way. But I am not certain that Lionel's answer is the appropriate one. I am hopeful that with the Covenant under consideration in so many venues, a new way of seeing things will emerge. The question ultimately seems to be "Do you want to be right or do you want to be in a relationship?" For both the left and the right, being right seems to be defining. For the middle, it may be the relationship. Looked at with new eyes, maybe a new model of relationship can emerge.

Posted by EmilyH at Thursday, 9 September 2010 at 7:36pm BST

I'd like to "be in a relationship" too, EmilyH, but what kind? Should we stick with what we have? Our so-called partners are unrelentingly abusive and mean, except when they need to separate us from some of our money. We persist in thinking that they'll somehow come around, that they really do love us and need us, that this thing is just temporary and we should try to stay together.

Can a relationship this one-sided be founded on reality? I say it's delusional. Look at Okoh, look at Orombi, look at Venables, look at Duncan and Minns. What are they actually saying to us? And what about the rest of the Communion? Sure, there are two or three liberal priests in every province. But we've been called a "cancer," we've had every name in the book thrown at us, our church has been invaded and despoiled, all with the connivance of Lambeth Palace, and all without a murmur of protest from any other member church.

Let's look at the facts, not at what some of us might have a need to believe. It seems a good proportion of the Communion is preoccupied with beating us up and throwing us out, and would have thrown us out a long time ago, except that they are getting too much fun out of beating us up. The rest are willing to sit on their hands and let it happen.

We could have a happy life in union with ELCA and a half-dozen other churches in the US, but I guess that's just too tame and boring. We must crave the excitement of being battered by the Communion. "If he doesn't beat you, he doesn't love you."

I think we need to get healthy fast, pack our bags, and leave.

Posted by Charlotte at Friday, 10 September 2010 at 1:16am BST
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