As a Canadian, I think it is fair for me to say that Bishop George Bruce is quite conservative and pro-Covenant. He is known for his anti-gay position in the Canadian Church and in his Diocese of Ontario. He retires this summer.
"Whether you agree with the Covenant or not, there is much to be learned about our Anglican heritage
and practice, by engaging in the study process. The Anglican Communion has been in turmoil over the past several years. This Covenant may or may not be of assistance in leading us towards a clearer mission together."
- Bishop Susan Moxley & Suzanne Lawson -
In their letter of preamble to the discussion document of The Covenant, these two Canadian members of the A.C.C. are bold enough to suppose that the Covenant 'may or may not' be of assistance to the Anglican Church of Canada, in it's consideration of the applicability of the proposed 'Covenant' process.
In view of the fact that more Canadian and T.E.C. Dioceses are opening up the possibility of enabling the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions, it will be very interesting to see whether either our Canadian or North American Sisters and Brothers actually embrace the Covenant as it is framed.
After all, whatever is decided elsewhere in the Communion - about the acceptance or rejection of the Covenant Process - the GAFCON Provinces have declared their non-participation. This begs the question of the usefulness of a disciplinary 'Code of Conduct'like the Covenant, which is bound to dis-enfranchise the more liberal Provinces .
So far, there has been no comment from "Stop the Anglican covenant" folks here in Canada.I'll be interested to get their take on the study materials. Meantime,my diocese has just passed a resolution asking our bishop to give the green light to clergy and parishes that wish to bless the marriages of same sex couples who are married in a civil ceremony. We are the eighth out of twenty-nine dioceses to do so-- and now much of urban Canada has some sort of liturgical mechanism for blessing same gender marriages. So, what will conservative sections of the Communion make of our signing the covenant as a Province while at the same time moving towards blessings in various dioceses?
Like Father Ron, I was pleased to see the covenant controversy candidly named in the covering letter. However, I have this intuitive sense that Canada will sign on and that GS 2013 will be steered in that direction.
There is a question that Canada will need to ask itself during covenant study leading up to GS 2013. It's a question that should be of concern to delegates to GS 2013 from dioceses like mine that have chosen to support the blessing of same sex civil marriages. Would approval of the covenant by Canada's GS tacitly over rule or otherwise implicitly turn back the decision of dioceses that allow blessings? Such is pessimistic flip side to the more hopeful scenario Father Ron describes in his post.
As the Canadian Convenor for the No Anglican Covenant Coalition, I was in touch with Bishop Bruce early to press the point that the Canadian study guide must be scrupulously fair - unlike the pro-Covenant propaganda piece coming out of the Pravda and Ishvestia . . . I mean Lambeth and the ACO.
Conservative and pro-Covenant Bruce may be. Overall, I think he did manage to lead a process which has brought us the first fair and unbiased study piece I;ve seen from any official source at the provincial or Communionwide level.
I'm encouraged to read +Malcolm's assessment of Canadian Study materials. If the "stop the Anglican Covenant group" find them acceptable, that is a good sign. The materials, on the face of it, look fairly even handed. There are further questions. What kind of process will be used to gather and report to GS? Will there be an actual open parliamentary style debate at GS 2013 , or will it be another process using conversation minders like last time? I'm wondering if Malcolm knows the membership makeup of Bishop Bruce's working group. I tried searching the GS and Anglican journal sites but came up empty.
I don't have details on the membership of the working group, but the work so far suggests to me the process will at least make an effort to be fair. In addition, I know that there are at least a few bishops very unsympathetic to the Covenant stitch-up. That can only be helpful in ensuring we don't have an unethical Lichfield style rubber stamp.
I do rather expect that the Anglican Communion Office will dispatch their Canadian colleague to work the rooms in favour of the Covenant, and there are certainly those in the Canadian Church who are highly supportive. But with about a quarter of the dioceses (representing, I believe, more than half the country's Anglicans) either having implemented the "forbidden" blessings or moving swiftly in that direction, I don't quite see how we can possibly endorse the Covenant, at least without engaging in some sort of Orwellian word game along the lines we've seen from a couple of other provinces.
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