Thinking Anglicans

Bishop Colton on the Covenant

Updated Tuesday evening

The Church of Ireland has issued two press releases arising from what the Bishop of Cork, the Rt Revd Paul Colton, said at his diocesan synod on Saturday.

Bishop Colton: Anglican Covenant Raises Issues Of Canon Law

Speaking to members of the Church of Ireland in Cork, Cloyne and Ross at their annual Diocesan Synod on Saturday 7th June, the Bishop of Cork, the Rt Revd Paul Colton, said that the proposed Anglican Covenant which will be debated at next month’s Lambeth Conference raises some major issues for the Church of Ireland.
The Bishop said ‘… the proposed Anglican Covenant, if progressed through the central Anglican structures, the so-called Instruments of Unity, and if it is to be binding on the Church of Ireland, will have to come to the General Synod for ratification and incorporation into the law of the Church of Ireland.’
However, he said: ‘We already have our Preamble and Declaration. It too is a solemn document and covenantal in character: a covenant with and between ourselves formulated at a cathartic time of crisis. Drawn up in 1870 in anticipation of the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, it is for us one of our title deeds…

Bishop Colton Encourages A New Approach To Canterbury Appointment

…The Bishop warned that the proposed Anglican Covenant gives the Archbishop of Canterbury significant new powers outside of the Church of England and within other Churches. Bishop Colton said that in spite of the Covenant’s protestations to the contrary, “… agreeing to it would result in compromising the autonomy of the Church of Ireland and other parts of the Anglican Communion.”

Bishop Colton said that while what was being proposed may be necessary to preserve the unity of Anglicanism, the proposal to enhance the powers of the Archbishop of Canterbury represented a partial move “…towards universal primacy at the expense of local conciliarity.”

He argued, therefore, that if this is to happen there would have to be a new approach to the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

He said: “If the Covenant proposals and the framework for resolution of conflict are to be adopted internationally, a new approach to the appointment of future Archbishops of Canterbury will be needed as well as international involvement in those appointments. At a minimum this international involvement should involve a new process of formal and transparent consultation throughout Anglicanism.

“I realise that this will compromise the autonomy of the Church of England and raise issues of leadership, authority as well as constitutional concerns for establishment in the English context, which would in turn have to be addressed; but, equally, not to address this matter will raise ecclesial constitutional concerns throughout much of the rest of Anglicanism.”


The full text of his remarks is available as a PDF file here.

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Jerry Hannon
Jerry Hannon
15 years ago

The Bishop of Cork, the province of my ancestors some 150 years ago, has nailed it.

How many really want an Anglican Pope (i.e., besides Duncan, Iker, Akinola, and supporters)?

I thought we dealt with that issue centuries ago, and this Anglican has no intention of revisiting that disastrous concept, and I very much doubt that most of the provinces and national churches of the Anglican Communion will find the idea acceptable, either.

15 years ago

Jerry, no-one wants an Anglican pope unless they can appoint him! Akinola is happy to have an Anglican pope if it can be him, but he is not happy to have even an Archbishop of Canterbury who doesn’t agree with him. Hence Martyn Minns’ delicious quote: “the missionary churches have grown up and won’t be told what to do by the parent churches” – they are, however, more than happy to tell the “parent churches” what to do. This is about power. But the gospel is not about power. Hence, these power players drift away from their fellow Anglicans all… Read more »

15 years ago

Very judicious spelling-out of the consequences.

Makes me proud to be an Irishman (of a sort), and, to boot, C of I by birth.

Reminds me also of less appealing manifestation of (Scots-)Irish religiosity: ‘No Pope here!’. But how refreshing it is to encounter (also from commentators) straightforward rejection of the notion of an Anglican, or any, Pope. How different from the cringeing servility of so many of ‘the orthodox’ (se e.g. Jeff Steel’s blog ‘ad nauseam’). We are free people.

Nice to meet again, Badman.

Nom de Plume
Nom de Plume
15 years ago

The Bishop of Cork, who incidentally holds an LLM in Canon Law, is perfectly correct in his concerns. I would like to see his support for the comment that the proposed covenant might be necessary for unity, but otherwise I agree completely. In its current form, the proposed covenant would impair the autonomy of the Provinces, and would create some serious internal questions as to the constitutional framework of each Province. One question I would like to see addressed is the extent to which the new role for the Archbishop of Canterbury would marginalize the Archbishop and the Province of… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
15 years ago

“the missionary churches have grown up and won’t be told what to do by the parent churches” This has been apparent from the beginning. +Akinola frequently refers to African Churches not being pushed around by Westerners. I can well understand the resentment of the colonized. I am a white, English speaking (well after a fashion), Anglican with roots in England. Yet I also experienced British colonial hautiness, and that from people who WERE doing very much needed work as medical missionaries, work that has become legendary around these parts. I know the odd mixture of gratitude and resentment it brings.… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
15 years ago

If the Anglican Consultative Council – composed of all 3 orders of the Church, Laity, Clergy and Bishops – were to be given pride of place among the Instruments of the Anglican Communion, then there would not be a problem with the Archbishop Canterbury, our Founding Province, retaining the honorary title of ‘Primus Inter Pares’. I see no fear of an Anglican Papacy if the ACC were the primary Instrument of Unity. Then the Church could get back to its roots with the laity being given a proper dignity. This would ensure that the likes of Archbishop Akinola would have… Read more »

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