Thinking Anglicans

Covenant – Friday roundup

The Church of Ireland Gazette gave this topic some space, see:

Former Anglican Deputy Secretary-General’s comments add to Covenant controversy

and this editorial comment.

Alan Perry wrote Does the Anglican Covenant really mean what it says?

And Paul Bagshaw has a separate reason for voting against the Covenant for each day of the week:
and Friday.


Covenant – what Archbishop Gomez said in 2008

There has been a flurry of interest around the references to what Archbishop Drexel Gomez (now retired) said in 2008. Here is the original report of those remarks.

Christian Challenge ARCHBISHOP GOMEZ: Need For Covenant Grows More Urgent by Robert England.

Leader Sees Good Chance That Final Covenant Will Go To Provinces Next Year; Expresses Openness To Possibility Of New North American Province

The process of finalizing an Anglican covenant needs to move forward more quickly if the Anglican Communion is to be preserved.

That was the message delivered Saturday (September 13) by West Indies Archbishop Drexel Gomez, the chairman of the group charged with formulating the pact intended to help ensure unity in basic beliefs, settle disputes, and administer discipline among historically autonomous Anglican provinces…

Another copy is over here.


Covenant – Truth or Conviction

Chris Sugden and Vinay Samuel have written an article for this week’s Church of England Newspaper entitled Truth or Conviction: questions over the Anglican Communion Covenant. Here’s how it starts:

Many primates have indicated that they cannot support the Covenant in its present form. The African Primates said in Entebbe in August : “We realise the need for further improvement of the Covenant in order to be an effective tool for unity and mutual accountability.”

In April the Global South meeting said: “We are currently reviewing the proposed Covenant to find ways to strengthen it in order for it to fulfill its purpose. For example, we believe that all those who adopt the Covenant must be in compliance with Lambeth 1.10. Meanwhile we recognize that the Primates Meeting, being responsible for Faith and Order, should be the body to oversee the Covenant in its implementation, not the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.”

Why the reticence?

And the article concludes:

The current Covenant process interminably delays judgement and leaves little hope of discipline and thus of consistency. We are left in a permanent state of dialogue and conversation. This has practical implications at parish level when churches have to decide how to relate to same-sex couples requesting blessing and bringing surrogate children for baptism. If the covenant process in the Communion becomes the state of affairs in the Church of England, its practices could be so contradictory that chaos would result. Endless appeal could be made to conviction, openness, listening and time while practices and actions continue which go against the teaching of the church whether in a parish or whole diocese.

The above argument could therefore suggest abstention in the vote in General Synod next week for the following reasons:

The Communion needs recognition of orthodox teaching and for proper and appropriate boundaries. The Covenant does not achieve that purpose but substitutes conviction for truth. Some wish to travel further in the direction in which the Covenant is supposed to point, but do not wish to support the very weak approach of the current Covenant. Where the current Anglican Communion process is going today could be used to allow for English Dioceses to move in TEC’s direction tomorrow on the grounds that this is accepted Anglican practice.


Ordinariate – English RC bishops issue press statement

This press statement has been issued following a meeting of the RC Bishops of England and Wales.

Implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus
The Establishment of a Personal Ordinariate in England and Wales

Full text appears below the fold.

The Church Times has a report from today’s press conference on its website, see Ed Thornton We have no designs on your churches, says Archbishop Nichols



update on Primates Meeting

Last week, I linked to a news article by George Conger that appeared in the Church of England Newspaper.

This week, both the Church of England Newspaper and the Church Times have further reports on the matter.

In the former, George Conger’s story is headlined No plans to cancel Dublin Primates’ Meeting, ACC says.

There are no plans to cancel the Dublin primates meeting, ACC secretary general Canon Kenneth Kearon has declared.

In a statement released via Twitter on Nov 11 in response to a story last week in the Church of England Newspaper about the Jan 25-31 meeting, ACC spokesman Jan Butter wrote: “Am afraid this story is not accurate. Communion Sec. Gen. Canon Kearon adamant: never any plans to cancel Primates’ Mtg.”

…The report in the CEN, however, did not claim the archbishop’s Oct 7 letter called for the cancellation of the primates meeting.

In response to a request for clarification, the spokesman for the ACC stated there had been a “slip of the pen”’ in the Twitter message in saying there were never any plans to “cancel” the meeting. “The point I was trying to get across was that there have never been any plans to suspend the upcoming Primates’ Meeting in Dublin next January,” Mr. Butter wrote.

However, behind the scenes conversations between Dr. Williams and the primates remain on-going, CEN has been told. While reservations and supplies have been laid on by the ACC staff for the 38 primates and the Archbishop of York to meet at the Emmaus Conference Centre outside of Dublin, it is not clear how many primates will attend the gathering…

The Church Times news report on this is only available to paid subscribers until next week, but the story does quote Canon Kearon as saying there is:

“a suggestion that this be a different kind of Primates’ Meeting, driven by the need for discernment and di­alogue around issues affecting the life of the Communion”.

“The proposal is that it begins with a number of different conversations taking place simultan­eously at first. This is to provide a safe space where dialogue can begin and progress together in a spirit of discernment.”


Covenant – a waste of time and money

Cif belief has published an article, written by me, on the Covenant.

The covenant is a waste of time and money

Everyone agrees the Anglican Communion is in a mess, but increasing the power of a central committee won’t fix it.

Gregory Cameron, Andrew Goddard, and Graham Kings have all criticised attacks on the covenant as misinformation and scaremongering. But strikingly none of them has explained what benefit to the Church of England comes from endorsing the covenant. There’s a very simple reason for this: none exists…


Archbishop of Canterbury in Rome

The Archbishop of Canterbury is on a pre-arranged visit to the Vatican to address a public conference to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the (then) Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. During his visit, the Archbishop granted an interview to Vatican Radio, the transcript of which can be read on his website.

Vatican Radio reports on the interview: Archbishop of Canterbury on ecumenism, the ordinariate and Pope’s UK visit. This report has links to audio of the interview in Real and mp3 formats.

Tim Ross at the Telegraph reports on part of the interview: Churches lose their vicars as Anglicans “jump ship” for Rome, warns Rowan Williams.


Covenant – Andrew Goddard writes again

Andrew Goddard has written more about the Anglican Covenant at Fulcrum.

How and Why IC & MCU Mislead Us on the Anglican Covenant

In the church press on Friday 29th October, two Church of England groups, Inclusive Church (IC) and Modern Church (formerly, Modern Churchpeople’s Union, MCU), published a whole page advert headed ‘Who runs the Church?’. This explains why they believe the Anglican Covenant would be a change for the worse. Having offered an initial short critique of it, this offers a more detailed analysis of its claims. In the week leading to the Synod debate on the covenant and subsequent diocesan discussion, their seriously flawed case risks being given greater circulation and credibility through the wider international (though predominantly Western liberal) No Anglican Covenant Coalition and other publicity such as the recent similar leaflet sent to General Synod members.

The key questions that need to be answered in relation to the covenant are as follows and each section is hyperlinked here so it can be read on its own

(1) Where does the Anglican Covenant come from, who wants it and why?
(2) What does the Anglican Covenant actually do?
(3) What will happen if the Church of England signs the Anglican Covenant?
(4) But isn’t the covenant disciplinary?
(5) What if…?: Hypothetical futures and pasts
(6) Conclusion: What vision and future for Anglicanism should we embrace?

Read the original to get the links.


Covenant – the only way forward

Bishop Graham Kings has written at Cif belief The Anglican covenant is the only way forward. (Another copy here.)

Its detractors say it will stifle diversity, but unless the church votes for the covenant, deeper divisions will be unavoidable.

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” is a celebrated line in WB Yeats’s 1920 poem The Second Coming. How that relates to the Church of England and the tensions in the wider Anglican communion, 90 years later, we shall witness next week. On Wednesday 24 November, General Synod will be debating the Anglican covenant.

This covenant of unity seeks to hold the Anglican communion together organically in the face of increasing fragmentation. The choice in this debate is to opt into intensifying our world-wide relationships in affection and commitment or to allow splits to develop further and irrevocably. Do we consider each other and decide we belong together, or do we do our own thing and hang apart?


UFO Director at ACO on Covenant

Updated again Wednesday morning

Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Director for Unity Faith and Order, The Anglican Communion Office has written a press release:

“For a fair and accurate debate on the Covenant, read it first,” says Unity, Faith and Order director

Many things have already been said in the public arena about the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant. As Provinces around the world continue to discuss this important document I think it worth clarifying some points about it. I am not arguing here for or against the Covenant, merely pointing out that it should be debated fairly, with an accurate reading of the text…


This article has been swiftly rebutted point by point, on the blog of the No Covenant group. See Pleading Guilty over the Covenant at Comprehensive Unity.

Bishop Alan WIlson has also commented at Only us, redeemed.

From her rather improbably titled office, Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, “UFO Director at the Anglican Communion Office,” reminds us that the Anglican Covenant hovering over us poses no threat to Churches whose antics may be referred to the First Fifteen, but they must accept that if processes of mediation have broken down their actions have (Euphemism alert) “relational consequences.”

Frankly, this phrase needs very careful handing before can possibly be applied to Christians…


What is the Anglican Covenant For?

Paul Bagshaw has written What is the Covenant supposed to solve?

…But what problems is the Covenant supposed to solve (now, as opposed to when it was first conceived)?

First, the unity of the Communion. Sadly, I think it’s too late – and perhaps was always too late. In fact it increasingly seems that pushing people to sign will be the last step in the de facto schism. By going for a Covenant that was acceptable to a sufficient majority of the players in Global Anglicanism the Covenant Design Group has failed to bring enough of the Communion on board.

Second, to provide the framework for future disputes. Sadly the Covenant procedures will almost certainly only work for little disputes or issues exclusively between two parties. And they could probably be resolved in any framework.

Or they will work to exclude TEC and Canada – and then everyone will take fright because they could be next. They will move quickly to dismantle the Covenant – it will prove to have been a disastrous one-shell cannon.

The Covenant framework will not be adequate to any significant dispute. It’s back-to-front: what happens is that administrative structures & agreements work because people agree to make them work. In normal times conflicts flow through, and are contained by, the channels of the pre-existing system: people and systems are in continual dialogue. In abnormal (though not uncommon) times disputes overflow the system and leave it in pieces. Then people coming together, pick up the pieces and rebuild. The cycle starts over again: systems cannot be imposed without assent.

Third: as one more step in a long-term programme to reform the Communion by centralising and reducing the differences between provinces. This goal might well be met, in part at least, by the process to arrive at a Covenant as much as by the document itself. In the course of debate, it seems to me, the previously normative idea that the Communion was a federal structure with central consultative bodies seems to have been replaced by the normative idea that the Communion is a single entity whose centre needs to be strengthened because its component parts are too fissiparous.


Covenant – Sugar and spice, or strychnine …

Bishop Alan Wilson has written at Cif belief about the Anglican Covenant. The article is titled

Sugar and spice, or strychnine …

Niceness may carry the measure, but it won’t make the covenant the turbine of a more mutually engaged global denomination.

In the Hebrew scriptures, people cut covenants by chopping a bird in half and walking between the halves to indicate sincere meeting of hearts and minds.

The Anglican Communion is proposing a fractionally less messy covenant between member churches – part of the fallout from the Windsor report, which attempted to resolve its gay bishops row in 2003. Perceptions have progressed faster these last seven years in the world, perhaps, than in the higher echelons of the Anglican Communion…


Covenant – Monday roundup

George Pitcher wrote in the Telegraph Are Church of England liberals really Nazis?

…Leave aside whether there’s something slightly contradictory about Little Englanders being Nazis and consequently whether you can both be a Nazi at the same time as feeling like you’re facing them in 1939. The real point here is whether there is some sort of concerted effort to paint theological liberals as totalitarian extremists.

If there is, then the language of next week’s General Synod is not likely to be conducive to making any constructive advances on vital issues concerning women bishops or the covenant. And that would be a shame for both sides of the Church’s political spectrum, neither of which are remotely fascist.

Cif belief has as its Question of the Week: Will the covenant kill or cure?

Next week the Church of England’s General Synod will be asked to take an apparently momentous decision. Should it sign up to a formal, international, disciplinary process which would allow other churches a voice on whether it is truly Anglican or not? The proposed Anglican covenant is presented as a means to deepen unity within the Anglican Communion, but it will do so by strengthening discipline.

It has grown out of the schism of the last decade, and the desire of the conservatives to exclude, and have declared un-Anglican, and in fact un-Christian, the inclusion of of gay people on equal or comparable terms to straight ones. The question really does divide the church. Globally, there is a clear majority against it. In this country, there is probably a vague majority of Christians in favour, and certainly no strong sentiment for a purge of gay clergy. So why should the Church of England sign up to a document which can only be either another piece of toothless waffle, or something that one day will turn round and bite it, painfully?

We will link to each of the contributions in separate articles.

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Uruguay to leave Southern Cone

Updated Tuesday

ACNS reports that Uruguay votes to transfer to another Province.

One week after a proposal to allow dioceses to individually permit women’s ordination to the priesthood was turned down by the Tenth Synod of the Province of the Southern Cone, the Diocese of Uruguay has voted to seek another jurisdiction with which to share its ministry.

The vote in the Province had been by a specific request of the Diocese of Uruguay and sought to allow a diocesan option in the matter, rather than Provincial wide adoption, so that the diocese could proceed to minister within a very difficult agnostic milieu. Uruguay felt that after a nine year hiatus since the last vote for approval, a patient wait would be rewarded. That was not the result and so the Uruguayan Synod took this measure to move away from the Province…

There is a further report from ENS URUGUAY: Diocese votes to leave Southern Cone

…Clergy members of the Southern Cone’s 10th triennial synod Nov. 4 refused to approve the canonical changes required to allow for the ordination of women to the priesthood. The changes, which required a two-thirds majority in all three houses, were approved by the bishops and laity. Uruguay ordains women to the diaconate.

The Diocese of Uruguay synod met Nov. 12 in the capital city of Montevideo and decided by a simple majority vote in orders to quit the province, according to Lyons.

The diocese wants to transfer from the Southern Cone within the year, he said, adding that if permission is not given, an appeal would be made to the Anglican Consultative Council to arrange for oversight, following provincial canons…


Flying to the Ordinariate

© Diarmaid MacCulloch 2010. A shorter version of this article appeared earlier in The Times.

In 1994 a set of new bishops appeared ready-minted to cater for those unhappy with the way that most of the Church of England wanted to shape its future. They were given a newly-contrived title, ‘Provincial Episcopal Visitor’, but friend and foe alike christened them ‘Flying Bishops’, since they fluttered athletically over existing diocesan boundaries to minister to certain Anglican parish churches mostly characterised by incense, statuary and a multitude of candles. What to call these novelties? The need was to make up some titles which would sound impressively historic, and some antiquarian-minded ecclesiastical bureaucrats in Lambeth Palace must have had a high old time doing this. Their finest satirical production was ‘the Bishop of Ebbsfleet’. Historically, it commemorated a place where Augustine of Canterbury might possibly have landed, bringing a Roman form of Christianity to the as-yet-unnamed England, but today, it was a windswept Kentish hamlet in the middle of nowhere, soon to become a windswept railway platform on the High Speed Rail Link to mainland Europe. You couldn’t make it up. But they did.

And now three past and present Flying Bishops (Ebbsfleet included), a quasi-Flying Bishop (Fulham) and a bishop retired from a stridently ‘High’ Australian diocese, are clutching tickets for the Rome Express. Already some journalists are trumpeting this as heralding a mighty flood from the C of E – it’s a good headline, ‘Five Anglican bishops quit for Rome’. Hmmm….. These evanescent bishops were created to service a new and absurd idea: a special jurisdiction for self-selected Anglicans intent on throwing their toys out of the pram. Now the bishops themselves seem to have realised what an absurd idea it was. It is unlikely that many will follow, beyond a coterie of clergy trained in the same High-Church Anglican theological colleges that fostered their viewpoint. This is no great Anglican crisis. It does not even represent the departure of Anglo-Catholics from the Church of England; Anglo-Catholicism prospers regardless of the Flying Bishops. They represent one faction, which those of us who enjoy grubbing in historical byways term ‘Papalist Catholics’. For about 150 years this group among High Church Anglicans have performed athletic intellectual gymnastics about what the Church of England actually is. They ignored the fact that it had a Reformation in the sixteenth century, and turned their churches into meticulous replicas of whatever ecclesiastical fashions the Roman Church decided to adopt, while equally ignoring the fact that successive popes considered their clerical status ‘absolutely null and utterly void’. Now they are thrilled to find that the Pope was wrong all along, so they can after all be received on special terms into the ample bosom of the Western Church of the Latin Rite (which is in the habit of arrogating to itself the more general title of the Catholic Church).

This papal cake both to be eaten and to be had is called an ‘Ordinariate’, a title almost as novel as that 1994 coinage of ‘Provincial Episcopal Visitor’. It certainly came as a shock to the Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales when Pope Benedict XVI announced it out of the blue last autumn, but naturally the Catholic episcopate has put a brave face on the surprise. The Flying Bishops are going to be allowed to exercise their pastoral gifts within a special Anglican paddock, to which apparently they will bring all the riches of Anglicanism’s heritage. It’s not exactly clear what these riches will be: when asked, Roman Catholic bishops usually vaguely refer to Anglican scholarship on the Early Church. Well, call me old-fashioned, but I thought that Roman Catholics already knew quite a bit about the Early Church. Perhaps it’s Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer? Not a book for which the Flying Bishops and their clerical mates have shown much enthusiasm in the past. Maybe married clergy? Well, Rome only likes that if the clergy concerned are ex-Anglicans – very annoying for mainstream Roman Catholic clergy to whom such marital bliss is forbidden.

Notable among those waving goodbye to the Flyers at Ebbsfleet International will be the equal and opposite coterie of extreme Evangelicals, who were in temporary alliance with them over matters conservative, but want nothing to do with Rome, even an ultra-traditionalist Vatican like Benedict’s. And I predict that members of the Ordinariate will not find Rome what they expected. In their Anglican careers, they have flourished in the status of perpetual malcontents: Rome is not disposed to indulge stroppiness, as Anglicans habitually do. When there was a fuss about the priesting of women, some priests and laity went over to Rome, then some came back to Canterbury. Unlike some Churches, the C of E never makes a song and dance about those (including ex-Roman Catholics) who find a happy home in its many mansions. Maybe just worth buying a return ticket, Flyers?

Diarmaid MacCulloch is Professor of the History of the Church in the University of Oxford.


General Synod – Covenant debate

As a follow-up to the recent advertisements in the Church Times and Church of England Newspaper Inclusive Church and Modern Church have mailed a leaflet to all General Synod members.

A copy of the leaflet is available as a PDF here, and as a web page.


50 clergy to join ordinariate

Jonathan Wynne-Jones reports in the Telegraph: Catholic Church to welcome 50 Anglican clergy. “The Catholic Church will announce this week that 50 Anglican clergy are defecting to Rome following the Church of England’s moves to introduce women bishops.”

The Church Mouse has this comment: 50 clergy to join ordinariate – has the CofE been preparing?



Nick Baines writes about The real news.

Giles Fraser writes in The Guardian that Despite the conservatives, churchgoers are inspired by Gene Robinson. “Though the gay bishop is retiring early, some day the Anglican church hierarchy will see homophobia as an evil.”

Alan Wilson writes about the Anglican Covenant in Right solution, wrong problem? and about Equalities and discrimination 101.

Jeremy Fletcher asks Is the Church of England a Coffee Chain?

William Oddie writes in the Catholic Herald that The Ordinariate will help reconnect the English Church to its medieval roots. “The Catholic Church in England has lost a precious tradition: of ministering to everyone living within the parish boundary.”

Philip Ritchie responds to the article on Fresh Expressions by Giles Fraser that we linked to last week: All FX’d Up.

This week’s Church Times article by Giles Fraser is A perfect harmony may jar.

And finally, in The Guardian: From the archive, 9 November 1960: An armchair lesson in sermonship.


About Comments

The editors of Thinking Anglicans (Simon S, Peter and Simon K) have recently discussed the question of comments on TA, and we are agreed that we should encourage ‘good commenting’. With that in mind, I am republishing a post I made in June 2007

We have noticed an increasing tendency by some commenters to make ad hominem or derogatory comments about other people — sometimes about other commenters and perhaps more often about people in the news.

We want discussions here to be conducted in a spirit of Christian charity and we are going to take a strong line on this. We will not approve comments that include ad hominem remarks. Comments on someone else should concentrate on their words or deeds. People should be accorded their proper names and/or titles, not a pretend or derogatory name or sarcastic title preferred by the commenter. Please note that this applies to people on all sides of discussions.

Secondly, we reiterate a plea we made a year ago: ‘please consider seriously using your own name, rather than a pseudonym. While we do not, at this time, intend to make this a requirement, we do wish to strongly encourage the use of real names.’

We hope that if commenters were to respond in this spirit then discussions would be better, the level of debate would be higher, and we would be doing a little more to bring about the kingdom of God.


Episcopal Resignations – Friday roundup

Updated Saturday morning to correct link to Ruth Gledhill video, and Saturday afternoon to add an alternative link.

Nick Assinder in Time: U.K. Bishops Defect to Catholic Church: A Sign of Crisis?

In The Economist: Flying bishops take off

Ruth Gledhill has interviewed David Houlding, chair of the Catholic Group on General Synod and posted the eight-minute interview on YouTube: Schism in Catholic wing of Church of England. She has added this introduction to the video.

Father David Houlding, chair of the Catholic Group on General Synod, tells Ruth Gledhill of The Times why he is staying in the Church of England but opposes women bishops. He also says that the Bishop of Fulham Father John Broadhurst must resign as chair of Forward in Faith.

The video is also available here.