Comments: UFO Director at ACO on Covenant

Any document that provides "The Standing Committee may request a Church to defer a controversial action. If a Church declines to defer such action, the Standing Committee may recommend to any Instrument of Communion relational consequences which may specify a provisional limitation of participation in, or suspension from, that Instrument until the completion of the process set out below" is, most definitely, "grant[ing] to any one Church or any agency of the Communion control or direction over any Church of the Anglican Communion," no matter what else it may say in contradiction.

Further, how can the Primates Meeting "work as representatives of their Provinces in collaboration with one another in mission and in doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters that have Communion-wide implications" if some members of that group refuse to recognize others as properly consecrated, or refuse to meet with them, even to the point of receiving the Eucharist at the same table?


Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 3:35pm GMT

If some members have an "enhanced" level of participation [I think that's the wording], then others have deminished relationships. How is that not punitive? This statement seems disingenuous to me.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 3:46pm GMT

No problem. Read the text carefully and then vote against it. Simples!

Posted by Justin Brett at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 3:51pm GMT

I just read it again. It is as frightful as it was the first time I read it.
Three main things:

All the doctrinal stuff in Section 1.2, while ok at one level, seems to have managed to adopt an attitude to doctrinal standards that omits the exercise of human reason - or at least wants it very well-disciplined, "rooted in and answerable to the teaching of Holy Scripture and the catholic tradition". But there are all kinds of things we are dealing with about which HS and the cath trad are basically silent - or where traditional judgements and interpretations now seem to be inadequate. We have a long tradition of doing this - look at the way we changed tack over contraception. But that kind of thing would be exceptionally difficult under this document. And as for reading Scripture "respectfully" (1.2.5), Phyllis Trible has taught us that sometimes the only way to read Scripture is angrily and under protest at the dreadfulness of what is in the sacred text. But this paragraph will discourage (at the very least) such reading as being authentically Anglican.

Section 3. Is it just me, or is the whole exercise becoming dreadfully bishop heavy? The joy of inter-Anglican communications via mission agencies and organisations like the Mothers' Union was that Anglican life has gone on in this very dispersed and personal way. I am sure I am not the only member of the communion who wonders just how representative of the ordinary believers our episcopal leaders are - and is not too keen to put all representation in their hands.

Then lastly, the dreadful Section 4. Alyson Barnett-Cowan can tell us till she is blue in the face that the Covenant in Section 4.1.3 does not affect the independance of any province - but the paras 4.2.4 to 4.2.9 tell a different story. They are punitive, they are exclusory, they are nothing at all to do with maintaining communion - they are about finding juridical ways of punishing and excluding.

I think it is a poor document, theologically rigid, and unfaithful to our heritage - precisely NOT traditionally Anglican. Further, I think it does a job we don't want doing, constructing a profoundly un-Anglican way of maintaining relations. The possible unintended consequences (unintended by those of good will - but quite possibly entirely intended by those who want to see a more strongly disciplined and tightly formed Communion structure with TEC and the CAnadians and the New Zealanders and Scots in the second tier - who will be next?) are very concerning. I believe it needs roundly rejecting.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 3:53pm GMT

"The assertion is often made that the ordination of women could not have occurred if the Covenant were in place. It is not at all clear that this would have been the case."

Certainly lays to rest all my apprehensions about the Covenant.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 4:39pm GMT

The good canon has made a very generous and optimistic reading of the Covenant. I've commented at some length as to the problems with that sort of approach.
http://jintoku.blogspot.com/2010/11/ufo-sighting.html

Posted by Tobias Stanislas Haller at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 4:58pm GMT

I do not know this lady at all, but what she says is, at the very least, remarkably disingenuous.

She surely must know that from the very beginning we have known that there is at least one member of the Communion (India) that sees itself as unable to accede to the Covenant.

And how can all be "equal" when some are "enhanced"? Or are some now more equal than others? What she writes makes no sense at all.

And how can it NOT have any effect on the governance of a Province when Measures and changes in custom or practice would first be tested by some Covenant mechanism to see if they suit the rest?

There is practically nothing in this short piece that rings of truth, WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 5:03pm GMT

I am having a chuckle about Simon's heading for this thread......

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 5:30pm GMT

In every single response from the TEC task force about drafts of the covenant, the task force signalled with alarm the top-heavy (i.e., increasing episcopal creep) nature of the covenant. Each response emphasised the importance of the clergy and laity in decision-making of the church. This concern evidently was not heeded.

And anything that talks about 'relational consequences' smells rather un-covenant like.

Posted by Lee Crawford at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 5:49pm GMT

It's a bit alarming to hear Canon Barnett-Cowan trying to defang the Covenant when its adoption would make her as a Canadian unlikely to be Director of anything for the Communion.

Posted by Geoff at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 5:53pm GMT

Just as a child's parentage cannot be ignored, neither can the would-be covenant be separated from the process that spawned it. Let me count the ways: The various Primates Meetings and the behavior there; the whole Windsor Report process and how some sell it as Holy Writ rather than what it is - a report; who has exercised restraint be it gracious or not; the undue haste to foist the Covenant upon us; the selection of the Covenant drafting Committee and who actually showed up; the Rev. Ephraim Radner being a drafter while simultaneously a director of the Institute of Religion and Democracy which was funnelling money to what would later call itself ACNA.

The conception and delivery process do not speak well of the document.

Posted by Kahu Aloha at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 6:04pm GMT

The Director of UFO states: ‘The assertion is often made that the ordination of women could not have occurred if the Covenant were in place. It is not at all clear that this would have been the case.’
I applaud Canon Barnett-Cowan’s candour here but this is far from reassuring and surely reveals the depth of the ‘known unknowns’ that surround the Covenant. Its supporters are going to have to do better than this.

Posted by Judith Maltby at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 7:06pm GMT

Is the UFO Director in charge of flying bishops? (Sorry)

Posted by Iain McLean at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 7:11pm GMT

"The assertion is often made that the ordination of women could not have occurred if the Covenant were in place. It is not at all clear that this would have been the case."

So *maybe* the Covenant Communion couldn't keep the Holy Spirit out. That's the best you got, Canon?

Thanks, but No Thanks.

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 7:30pm GMT

Jeremy: No is not just you! This document is indeed "bishop heavy" and it essentially creates an Anglican Magesterium very similar to the structure of the Roman Catholic Magesterium. This system is a failed and dysfunctional model that serves the hierarchy and leaves the lay person out in the cold on many issues. The present Roman Magesterium is just not working. Reform is needed.

Posted by Chris Smith at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 7:40pm GMT

The Anglican Covenant????? Again?????
I thought maybe the UFO director was in place because of REALLY advanced forward thinking and inclusiveness by the ABC's office.
Never mind. ;-)

Posted by Peter Gross - peterpi at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 7:49pm GMT

Regarding this statement

"It is also not true that non-signatories would no longer count as part of the Communion ... The difference would be that signatories will have made a commitment to live in that communion in a particularly enhanced way, and to a process of consultation and common discernment."

This is a perfect example of bureaucratic baflegab.

And this statement "The assertion is often made that the ordination of women could not have occurred if the Covenant were in place. It is not at all clear that this would have been the case."
Really? I suspect in if the covenant had been in place back in the day, we would still be "discerning" whether or not women could be ordained.

There are several solid arguments against adopting this so called covenant. However, the best evidence against the covenant is to be found in the naive arguments of some who lobby for its adoption.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 9:09pm GMT

"The assertion is often made that the ordination of women could not have occurred if the Covenant were in place. It is not at all clear that this would have been the case. The consultative processes of the Anglican Communion actually resulted in the discernment that this was an issue about which Anglicans were free to differ. That is exactly the kind of discernment that is needed when any new matter emerges..."

So why do we need the covenant?


Posted by Kennedy Fraser at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 9:15pm GMT

Dreadful! This scanty justification ( and why does it need justifying if all we have to do is read the thing and all will be sweetness and light ) is as mad as a box of frogs!

Posted by Suem at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 9:16pm GMT

Are these the official talking points from the mothership?

Posted by JPM at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 9:22pm GMT

The Covenant reflects Archbishop Williams' desire to make the Anglican Communion palatable to the rest of the catholic churches in the world.

It is top-heavy with primates and bishops because that is the model of the rest of the catholic churches. It tries to control doctrine because that is what the others try to do. It is not trying to make us like the rest of the churches because there's something wrong with the way we are; it is trying to do so because the rest of the churches say they can't talk with us while we don't play with the same deck of cards they do.

In ecumenical conversations, the ABC simply cannot make himself say, "This is our charism. We are a loose organization. Some of us are top/down, others are heavily invested in the authority of the laity and priests as at least equal to the episcopate. We do not and never will all believe all the same things about everything like you try to insist your people do. Our messiness is God's gift to Christianity through us. Learn to appreciate and live with it."

But he just can't do that. Instead he tries to remake us in the image of the Church of Rome.

Posted by Lois Keen at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 9:31pm GMT

"Canons to the right of them, Canons to the left of them, volleyed and thundered ..." you know the rest of it. Not a happy prospect for those of us likely to be offered up as cannon - or Canon - fodder!

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 9:32pm GMT

I think the Covenant leaves out one useful innovation. The Archbishop of Canterbury could nominate some of the bishops and primates to be "prominent." These "prominents" -- they will all be men -- will have the right to elect the new Archbishop of Canterbury when he dies or resigns. The Queen and UK Parliament will no longer have a say.

This will increase the worldwide acceptance of the Archbishop as head of the Anglican Communion. He may even come to be seen, in due course, as infallible on matters of faith, UFOs, and morals.

Any bishops who happen to be women will willingly submit, through their vow of obedience, to carrying their mitres or leaving them at home. Priests who happen to be married will be encouraged to be celibate nevertheless. Priests who are caught having sex with children will be told not to do it again, and reassigned to another parish. All flying bishops and other clergy who have crossed the Tiber will be welcomed home with a parade in their home town.

This amendment will make the Covenant the best possible instrument of unity, the most important religious document in England since the time of Archbishop Parker.

Posted by Andrew at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 9:42pm GMT

I wish I could believe Canon Barnett-Cowan and accept the Covenant as an essentially benign process.

I can't, for all the reasons Kahu Aloha gives, and more.

But here is a thought-experiment, for the Canon and others to respond to.

Suppose that, following the adoption of the Anglican Covenant, the question is put before the various bodies as to whether faithfully partnered gay or lesbian persons could be ordained priest.

Suppose that (using the Canon's language) "the consultative processes of the Anglican Communion" were to result in "the discernment that this was an issue about which Anglicans were free to differ." (This is a discernment already put forward by the Churches in Canada and Wales, and by +Liverpool in the Church of England.)

Would this discernment be permitted to emerge, as the result of the discernment process or as the mind of the Communion?

Note: I am not asking for this to be the guaranteed end result of the discernment process. I am asking whether the discernment process would be permitted to continue if this result began to emerge from it.

This is another way of asking whether the Covenant would be permitted to come into effect if it appeared unlikely to exclude the Episcopal Church from the Communion.

I think we are owed answers on these questions. Perhaps someone close to Canon Barnett-Cowan might provide them?

Posted by Charlotte at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 10:17pm GMT

What those in favor of the Anglican Daft Covenant say, in effect, is, "The Covenant is harmless and has no teeth, but WE MUST HAVE IT!" To me, the two views cannot be reconciled.

Posted by Grandmère Mimi at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 10:54pm GMT

When I saw UFO I had no idea I'd be reading something from another planet !

Just some kind of sign of perhaps, hope.

Don't she know not many anglicans are gonna 'read' 'the text' closely or even at all. We got all the texts we need - too many for most people's needs / life approach ...

However

breathing in
i know this moment
is a wonderful moment

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 11:26pm GMT

JPM i love that -- from the mother-ship--- thanx.


Now no slandering of frogs !

That chuckle of martin's (or yours) surely IS the true (or a true) UFO -- a zen / grace moment

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 11:29pm GMT

Andrew (Tues 16th) thanks for that. The idea of prominents is wonderful--why has no-one come up with it before ? Maybe ARCIC would be interested in it.

Maybe the announcement of the new archbishop could be given in Latin too, following the smoke signal.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 11:34pm GMT

Chere Mimi, like no-cal soda it makes of virtue of what it lacks. It reminds me of Rowan's Plaint: I have no power, I can't do anything. Oh, except remove representatives to committees I appoint, juggle the invitation list to Lambeth, press for voluntary renunciation of voting at the ACC, change the seating and conversation arrangements at the Primates' "Meeting" and... did I forget anything? No, I think that's all four Instruments, plus a few ringers. But no power; no, none at all.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 11:54pm GMT

The mischievous side of me is thinking "who knew the Anglican Communion had a director of Unity, Faith and Order?" and also that they won't be needing one of those too much longer - unity's gone already, order's on the way out and even faith is tenuous in some parts.

Posted by Clive at Wednesday, 17 November 2010 at 1:25am GMT

Agree with Clive @ 1:25 am and Lois at 9:31 pm

It all starts with the Archbishop of Canterbury's program to supply schismatics with the dogmatic certainty that hitherto, Anglicanism has not featured.

When this program drives honest people to produce drivel, such as the claim that the Covenant is not punitive despite its provision for "relational consequences," we know that we cannot look to Canterbury for reasoned truth anymore.

Can we look to the Church of England, as a whole, for reasoned truth? This Synod will be, shall we say, very _consequential_.

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 17 November 2010 at 3:34am GMT

Well, it starts with a complete divorce from reality - the assumption that us po' ol' laypeople ain't even been smart enough to read that thar covenant, and done had ourselfs riled up by a bunch o' troublemakers!

Then, it proceeds to mention an "accurate" reading of the text, so, even if we have read it - after all, even *laity* are taught to read now, God help us - we just don't know how to interpret it. Who will? Oh, who will tell us what the prophet truly saith? Undoubtedly, someone in the Standing Committee - Kear-on the Conqueror or Kamm-ron the Incandescent, perhaps, calling from the mothership. (Whew! That was close! I think that assuaged those stupid non-ordained types! What? This mic's on?!)

UFO is accurate, they have about as much contact with Earth, and look down from as high up.

My sweet God. How can we possibly think people so stupid they actually think they're clever be in charge of a worldwide . . . anything?

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 17 November 2010 at 6:55am GMT

"It is also not true that non-signatories would no longer count as part of the Communion ... The difference would be that signatories will have made a commitment to live in that communion in a particularly enhanced way, and to a process of consultation and common discernment."

- ACO Statement on the Covenant -

Yes, they would count alright: for What? For Nothing. They might as well no be in the Anglican Communion. Then perhaps they could just remain as they are now - TEC, the A.C.of C., ect.

If 'common discernment' means sticking to what has always been done, that's not good enough. The freedom of the Gospel needs to be worked out and procalimed afresh every day. No more hypocrisy!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 17 November 2010 at 8:30am GMT

"Phyllis Trible has taught us that sometimes the only way to read Scripture is angrily and under protest at the dreadfulness of what is in the sacred text." Jeremy Pemberton

Surely the dreadfulness of the 'sacred' text is self-evident with or without Phyllis's teachings?

Posted by Laurence C. at Wednesday, 17 November 2010 at 9:31am GMT

Ahhh, Fr. Ron - you misunderstand the *kind* of "counting;" the kind Rome has long held for the "non-enhanced" in communion: the kind on the spreadsheet.

We'll be allowed to pay - after all, the right-wingers *claim* superior numbers in everything but cash - but no play.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 17 November 2010 at 9:55am GMT

The good Canon also whitewashes the ordination of women. The phrase "impaired communion" unless I'm mistaken, emerged from the lips of Robert Runcie in response to the election of Barbara Harris -- and women bishops are still "impaired" when visiting England. Vive la "difference we can live with..."

Posted by Tobias Haller at Wednesday, 17 November 2010 at 3:32pm GMT

No, only Unidentified Flying Ordinaries.

Ian McLean wrote:

Is the UFO Director in charge of flying bishops? (Sorry)

Posted by jnwall at Wednesday, 17 November 2010 at 4:50pm GMT

MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 17 November 2010 at 6:55am GMT -- right on, forcefully expressed, and quite nonconforming to the civility standards called for by Simon Sarmiento last week. I rather like the freedom to be snarky, but perhaps this limits the conversation to members of the choir.

I loved Tobias Haller's view of the covenant on another comment thread: A way forward in the wrong direction.

Posted by Murdoch at Wednesday, 17 November 2010 at 7:08pm GMT

Murdoch,

I've become convinced that "nice and polite" is not a way to accomplish anything, and most decidedly not in the model of Jesus the Christ *and* His followers, who used terms like hypocrite, viper and whitewashed tomb - not "What you're saying sounds to me in my understanding to be rather misperceptive of what I think might be God's Will." I can't be wishy-washy about what I truly believe.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 5:32am GMT

Not to mention the fact that "nice and polite" is a characteristic of Anglicanism that these days, a lot of people are trying to take advantage of.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 10:37am GMT

"...Our messiness is God's gift to Christianity through us. Learn to appreciate and live with it..." - Lois Keen

I think I want to see this text on a bumper sticker, on every car in my church parking lot!

Posted by Lynn at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 7:42pm GMT

It seems, in this whole process, that all one of the conservative Provinces had to do was: stay away from Lambeth; organise piratical excursions into and 'ordain' faux bishops for other Provinces of the Church; excise Canterbury from it's founding documents; proclaim another way of 'being Anglican' (GAFCON; and Hey Presto! The Communion welcomes you back with the inducement of this two-tier 'Holier Than Thou' Covenant.

Which of the forward- thinking Provinces of the Communion would want to be associated with, when all they've done is to give women and gays their rightful place on the Church, a Gospel move?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 8:30pm GMT

Jeremy,

You've got it.

I'm a white Southerner (U. S.) and I see a lot of the same thing in liberal Christians that I've seen in my childhood and early adolescence. I used to see older black people who would step off the sidewalk into the street, so a white person would have "enough room." I saw proud, intelligent, well-educated black people begin to talk like a movies stereotype and say, "Yes, ma'am" and "Yes, sir" to white *children.* I saw them apologize for being bumped into *by* a white person. My mother explained it was because they came from a generation so beaten down and bullied by the whites who opposed civil rights, that that kind of deference was a second-nature survival technique. Politeness and stereotypical behavior kept you from being beat down.

I see the same thing here. The right-wingers have always been bullies, and liberals have, until the past twenty years or so, had to take the bullying in societies slow to change. The old forelock-tugging deference is still there, though it is a self-defence technique no longer needed; a bitter pill(placebo, now) sweetened as "polite."

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 19 November 2010 at 5:18am GMT

As a priest in TEC, in a progressive diocese (LA), it seems to me that our consideration of the Covenant will not require much debating and fixing of language. We have been told already that this is the "final version" of the Covenant. So, I think that we will get to an up or down vote if we are truly honest with ourselves.

The point that carries the day for me is that we in TEC would have to surrender our identity as a Church, governed by elected bishops and elected clergy and lay representatives, who are accountable to one another and to the Constitution and Canons of TEC. I can see no possible way that we would agree to accept layers of authoritative structures above our General Convention.

As the example du jour, this Church, in General Convention 2009, was asked by the Primates to consent to a moratorium on the ordination to the episcopacy of lesbians and gay men in committed relationships with one another. We responded by stating that our Constitution and Canons would govern access to holy orders in our Church. And our Canons explicitly prohibit using sexual orientation as a disqualifier. Anyone who thinks that we will revoke these Canons in favor of being governed in controversial matters by Primates and bishops not elected by us, and not accountable and subject to our Constitution and Canons and our General Convention just does not understand this Church.

Finally, as a personal statement, it is hard for me to fathom that we are devoting all this time and energy to shoring up the position of the Global South Churches, especially Uganda and Nigeria. Their blatant disregard for the human rights of LGBT persons, their refusal to even show up to listen to any view other than their own, their silent acquiescence in the violence done in their countries against LGBT persons, and their unending stream of verbal abuse and hatred against LGBT persons is poisoning the well of hope that Christianity could be for these abused persons, and plays a role in direct violence against LGBT persons, and the harrowing rate of suicide among our young.

Posted by karen macqueen+ at Friday, 19 November 2010 at 5:28am GMT

Thank you, Karen, for that very forthright and unambiguous statement - about the situation in TEC regarding whether or not to sign the Covenant. It seems that each individual Province will need seriously to consider whether its own canons and statutes are sufficiently Gospel-oriented as to resist to imposition of a Communion-wide 'Rule from On High' from the standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.

Matters of Faith and Order have been decided for us by the historic Creeds of the Catholic Church, and for anyone to seek to impose on anyone else mere shibboleths that would impede the working out of the Gospel in situ in the various Provinces, is contrary to the Anglican Way. If there is to be a 'New Way' then it may have to be worked out in each separate Province - as discerned by the local bishops clergy and laity of that Province.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 20 November 2010 at 1:03am GMT
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