Thinking Anglicans

primates meeting: covenant draft

The covenant document is published and can be found at the Anglican Communion Office website:

ACNS Report of the Covenant Design Group and also

PDF download of report
PDF download of draft covenant text only

Another ACO copy of the document starts here.

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Martin Reynolds
13 years ago

The most significant feature of the Covenant is that while claiming not to enforce an overarching juridical system, it does just that. The Primates are elevated to a position of supreme authority whose decisions are final and binding and if they decide you have gone your own way this entails your departure from the Covenant group. There IS a new order and there IS a penalty if you do not comply. The other significant feature is that if my church were to accept this then the position of the Instruments of Communion becomes part of our Law and polity. Rather… Read more »

T19elves
T19elves
13 years ago

We’re rounding up links to commentary on the Draft Covenant on the Titusonenine backup site.

http://t19backup.blogspot.com/2007/02/commentary-on-anglican-covenant.html

Cynthia
Cynthia
13 years ago

“The Primates are elevated to a position of supreme authority whose decisions are final and binding and if they decide you have gone your own way this entails your departure from the Covenant group.”

My (hasty) reading concurs. They will become a Curia of sorts, and that may be fine with Provinces which give little or no decision-making beyon the local to priests and laity. I cannot see this sitting well with TEC for that reason.

The notion of common canons is anathama to what the Anglican Communion has been in its short life.

JCF
JCF
13 years ago

“6.5. to seek the guidance of the Instruments of Communion, where there are matters in serious dispute among churches that cannot be resolved by mutual admonition and counsel: by submitting the matter to the Primates Meeting if the Primates believe that the matter is not one for which a common mind has been articulated, they will seek it with the other instruments and their councils finally, on this basis, the Primates will offer guidance and direction.” =:-O Uh-uh, buckaroo. SUBMIT to the Primates Meeting {*}, the *newest* of the 4 Instruments of Unity? Fuhgeddaboutit! {*} Don’t like, either, how—after the… Read more »

EPH
EPH
13 years ago

I regret that I am a bit of a literalist so I am hopeful some of you can enlighten me on the real meaning here. I am wondering about section 6(3): “Each Church commits itself” The terms: “Essential Concern,” “Consistent with Scriptures” Common Standards of faith” and “the Canon law of the Churches” and how they are to be interpreted concern me. Although the document makes no pretense that the covenant” would be legally binding, it more than implies that it would be morally binding on the member churches. Should they not be willing to accept the recommendations of the… Read more »

David Walker
David Walker
13 years ago

Martin wrote: The Primates are elevated to a position of supreme authority whose decisions are final and binding and if they decide you have gone your own way this entails your departure from the Covenant group. I think that’s a slightly innaccurate reading of paragraph 6 (though it’s what some would want it to mean). 6(5) clearly constrains the Primates to seek a common mind with “the other instruments and their councils”. Then, crucially, 6(6) gives to the somewhat nebulously phrased “Councils of the Instruments of Communion” the right to interpret when a church has walked away. At the very… Read more »

EPfizH
EPfizH
13 years ago

I regret that I am a bit of a literalist so I am hopeful some of you can enlighten me on the real meaning here. I am wondering about section 6(3): “Each Church commits itself” The terms: “Essential Concern,” “Consistent with Scriptures” Common Standards of faith” and “the Canon law of the Churches” and how they are to be interpreted concern me. Although the document makes no pretense that the covenant would be legally binding, it more than implies that it would be morally binding on the member churches. Should they not be willing to accept the recommendations of the… Read more »

seeker
seeker
13 years ago

Martin Reynolds’ points are telling.
I want no part in any of it.

David Bayne
David Bayne
13 years ago

Just a few thoughts – a first posting – from Scotland. To my surprise and delight, a quick canter through the draft suggests there is a great deal to which we could all sign up. As a draft, I’m sure it’s something we can all work on; if it’s non-negotiable, the good will have to be binned with the unacceptable. The sting, as Martin Reynolds has spotted, is in section 6. 6(4), while paying lip service to Provincial autonomy, effectively dismisses it; 6(5) hands curial authority to the Primates (How I wish they’d call themselves something else!) and must be… Read more »

Jonathan Clark
Jonathan Clark
13 years ago

A different reading: it seems to me that section 6 does in fact leave provincial autonomy intact – in that nowhere is any body given legal authority to instruct a province as to what to do. Section 6.6 is the breaker of course, and one has to assume the primates mean themselves, but I’d want to hear spelled out who ‘we’ are in ‘we will consider that such churches will have relinquished for themselves the force and meaning of the covenant’s purpose’ etc. – and how they would go about doing so

Prior Aelred
13 years ago

Martin —

You may well be right, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Just how the primates will exercise their new found authority (if everyone signs on to a Covenant that includes this) remains unclear. How long will due process take? (In Rome it can take decades).

One thing remains unclear to me — just why is such a covenant desirable? It certainly would not prevent change from occurring (although it would doubtless slow things down). Does someone want to accomplish this? Again, why?

David Chillman
David Chillman
13 years ago

Given that it is a “work-in-progress” I think it is encouraging. Yes – it does restrict the freedom of individual provinces to do their own thing but this is in the interests of maintaining communion. I think that there is something deeply spiritual and scriptural about reining-in ones own freedom in order to prevent causing unnecessary offence in “weaker” fellow Christians. Of course, such restrictions will be frustrating to those who want to dash ahead, but perhaps being forced to reduce your pace may not be such a bad thing. And it offers the hope of a proper, structured way… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

I have to read more fully and cogitate on this, but it strikes me that this is not very Anglican, much less Catholic. One of the big issues in our break with Rome was the nature of the bishop and episcopal authority. No bishop can make himself king. I’m unsure if a small cabal of bishops functioning as some sort of ruling elite is all that different. Does this constitute the setting up of a small body of men who will function as some sort of quasi-papacy? I want no part of this, any more than my Anglican ancestors wanted… Read more »

Jim Pratt
Jim Pratt
13 years ago

I think there is much here to work with and reflect upon. Ford, I do think it is Anglican, if we understand Anglicanism not as static (immutably determined as of 1549 or 1662 or 1867 or whenever) but as dynamic and constantly evolving. Certainly it is very consistent with Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence. But, like many here, I am disturbed at both the characterization of (Section 5) and intended role for the primates (Section 6). David Walker, your points are valid given the language, but coupled with the Primates’ bid to make themselves members ex officio of ACC (the constitutional… Read more »

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