Thinking Anglicans

ACI writes about the Anglican Covenant

Updated Saturday afternoon

The Anglican Communion Institute, Inc. has published a long (27 US-sized pages) paper, titled The Anglican Covenant: Shared Discernment Recognized By All.

A full footnoted text is also available for download here (.pdf)

The authors listed are:

The Reverend Canon Professor Christopher Seitz
The Reverend Dr. Philip Turner
The Reverend Dr. Ephraim Radner
Mark McCall, Esq.
The Rt. Reverend Dr. N. T. Wright Bishop of Durham

The document has also been published by Fulcrum over here.

Some extracts from the document:

The approved text of the Anglican Covenant is already serving as a lens through which individual Anglican churches are inevitably and accurately being measured in terms of their character as “Communion churches.” Thus, in ways not yet properly noted by all, the text endorsed by the Anglican Consultative Council, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Joint Standing Committee in May 2009 has already raised and to a large extent provisionally answered the question “who can adopt this Covenant?” It is the purpose of this paper to explain why and how this is so, and to do this in relation particularly to The Episcopal Church, although it should be noted that the Covenant’s defining substance can be applied analogously to other Anglican churches as well…

…On the other hand, The Episcopal Church professes to continue to consider the Anglican Covenant, resolving to “study and comment” on the approved text of the Covenant (and “any successive drafts”) and requesting a report with “draft legislation concerning this Church’s response to an Anglican Covenant” at the next General Convention. It should be noted that as originally moved this resolution called on The Episcopal Church to “make a provisional commitment to abide by the terms of the Anglican Covenant,” but the clause calling for a provisional commitment was removed.

That the actions of General Convention constitute instead a provisional rejection of the Anglican Covenant is manifest. This paper will support this conclusion in detail:

  • We begin by considering the substantial and well-developed body of Anglican thought utilized in expressing the commitments in the Covenant text. This body of precedent includes the articulation of several foundational concepts used in the Covenant, including “shared discernment,” “accountability,” “autonomy,” and the comprehensive term “Communion with autonomy and accountability.”
  • We then examine the specific commitments in the first three sections of the Anglican Covenant and show that they require (i) that there be Communion-wide decisions (“shared discernment”) on issues affecting the unity of the Communion and (ii) that all covenanting churches then recognize the decision reached by the Communion’s shared discernment.
  • We will then show that the shared discernment of the Communion on the issue of human sexuality is unequivocal. All four Instruments of Communion have spoken with one voice for over a decade, both in terms of general teaching and through specific recommendations.
  • We will conclude with a discussion of the function of Section 4 in the Covenant as a whole. On one level, Section 4 is not necessary, as some seem to think, to introduce meaningful consequences into the Covenant. Profound consequences are already entailed by the first three sections. Rather, a robust Section 4 is necessary in order to provide agreed procedures that all churches can trust. Without effective procedures in Section 4, others will emerge but they will not be ones that have been accepted in advance by all.

In this light, the actions of General Convention repudiating the teaching of the Communion on human sexuality can only be seen as the repudiation of the Covenant itself. The Communion and its shared discernment cannot be separated…

CONCLUSION

An Anglican church cannot simultaneously commit itself through the Anglican Covenant to shared discernment and reject that discernment; to interdependence and then act independently; to accountability and remain determined to be unaccountable. If the battle over homosexuality in The Episcopal Church is truly over, then so is the battle over the Anglican Covenant in The Episcopal Church, at least provisionally. As Christians, we live in hope that The Episcopal Church will at some future General Convention reverse the course to which it has committed itself, but we acknowledge the decisions that already have been taken. These decisions and actions run counter to the shared discernment of the Communion and the recommendations of the Instruments of Communion implementing this discernment. They are, therefore, also incompatible with the express substance, meaning, and committed direction of the first three Sections of the proposed Anglican Covenant. As a consequence, only a formal overturning by The Episcopal Church of these decisions and actions could place the church in a position capable of truly assuming the Covenant’s already articulated commitments. Until such time, The Episcopal Church has rejected the Covenant commitments openly and concretely, and her members and other Anglican churches within the Communion must take this into account. This conclusion is reached not on the basis of animus or prejudice, but on a straightforward and careful reading of the Covenant’s language and its meaning within the history of the Anglican Communion’s well-articulated life.

Two reactions to this paper:

Jim Naughton at Episcopal Café has written ACI says: we write the rules

…It is of course impossible to believe that anything these guys write is not motivated by animus of prejudice toward the Episcopal Church and its leadership. (If you doubt that have a look at the rantings of Christopher Seitz about Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in those errant emails.) But it is their presumptuousness here—in attempting to dictate to the Communion who can sign the covenant—that would be astonishing were it not predictable.

The document represents an effort here to do with the Covenant what was done with the Windsor Report. In the way the Wright set himself up as the sole surviving member of the panel that drafted the former document, the priests are trying to set Ephraim Radner up as the only drafter of the covenant to survive the great fire that swept through their meeting room just as the final gathering adjourned.

If, someday, the first things unchurched people think of when they hear the word Anglican is homophobe, Rowan Williams and these fellows will be the reason why. Their efforts to make the Communion safe for the most vicious sort of anti-gay bigots, and unwelcoming to those who make even timid moves toward full inclusion of GLBT Christians may be clumsy and transparently self-aggrandizing, but that doesn’t mean they may not succeed…

Adrian Worsfold has written Anglican Old School Sixth Form

Down in the Anglican Old School sixth form a message circulates that the Head of the sixth form wishes to speak to Christopher Sheitz, Philip Headturner, Fred Frame Righter, Davina McCall (who is male) and Newt S. Temperament. Also outside is the Head Boy of the Sixth Form, Roman Williams, who is waiting to go in after them…

25
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
25 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
20 Comment authors
Göran Koch-SwahnepeteJPMPerry Butlerdrdanfee Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“….In this light, the actions of General Convention repudiating the teaching of the Communion on human sexuality can only be seen as the repudiation of the covenant itself. The Communion and its shared discernment cannot be separated” – ACI statement – Bishop N.T.Wright’s hand is heavily imprinted on this latest document from the quasi-official sounding ‘Anglican Communion Institute’. Despite the fact that there are other bishops on this unofficial body in the US, none of the others affected to put their signatures to this document which might just indicate that this very ‘arch’ bishop is sticking his neck out again… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest

I really am tired of longwinded sidewinding blowhards telling me what is appropriate Anglican behavior and belief.

Tiresome, unsavory and arrogant.

No dice.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“The approved text?” approved by whom and when?
Waht planet are these people inhabiting?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“… the substantial and well-developed body of Anglican thought…”

Fudge. It would seem as though fudge hasn’t got a body.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“a long (27 US-sized pages) paper, titled ‘The Anglican Covenant: Shared Discernment Recognized By All'”

27 pages, and a title like THAT?

Apparently not being one of the “All” that the ACI has “discerned”, I think I’ll wait for the movie (tragedy or farce?).

Andrew Holden
Guest
Andrew Holden

It is ironic that this sort of religous McCarthyism should rear its ugly head in the Communion with a senior english Bishop being provoked by TEC 5th columnists! When will the witch-hunting begin? Will Bishop Wright head up the Committee on un-Anglican Activities?

This is simply atrocious – but I sincerely believe that the CofE Synod will not go along with this reactionary and illiberal hysteria. It would ultimately lead not only to the exclusion of particular provinces but also to the sacking of clergy and the ejection of lay individuals!

Grumpy High Church Woman
Guest
Grumpy High Church Woman

This is an honest question, but I seem to recall that the Scottish bishops and the Welsh bishops (and perhaps even their priests and laity if what they think matters in the proposed New World Order) have expressed serious reservations about the whole Covenant enchilada. Could friends to the west and north (of those of us in England) please assist? Oh, and still being Anglo-centric – how is a Covenant possibly compatible with establishment? Again, a real question. And does this mean the Church of England cannot move forward on women bishops until every last bit of the Communion is… Read more »

RosemaryHannah
Guest
RosemaryHannah

Do you want to know what really makes me cross about this? The SEC has repeatedly said that neither the 1662 Prayer Book nor the 39 Articles are part of our heritage (the Scottish Church never had nor wanted them, we have our own PB) and it seems this is never heard. IF the Covenant was actually about an attempt to HAVE a Covenant you might have thought it would have been taken on board. And why was it not? Easy peasy – because this is not about a proper covenant at all. It is about one issue – it… Read more »

robert lewis
Guest
robert lewis

who needs their covenant? not me. apparently not us in the diocese of missouri, either. i guess we will just go on sending some of our folks to the diocese of lui in the sudan to help build wells and roads and schools and whatever it is that they think they need and we can help with. let the primates scream and posture. i think we’ve passed them by.

john
Guest
john

I think Wright’s behaviour is disgusting. The whole thing is disgusting. Surely he will lose some support because of this. There must be thousands of C of E people who (like me) have experienced only good when visiting TEC churches. They will not like this naked condemnation. I cannot believe either that the Durham Cathedral hierarchy (a generally benevolent lot) approve of what he is doing. The whole grinding focus on gay people is disgusting too. I cannot believe it has much resonance within the rank and file of the church (or Church – in this, as in other things,… Read more »

David |Dah•veed|
Guest
David |Dah•veed|

“Bishop N.T.Wright’s hand is heavily imprinted on this latest document from the quasi-official sounding ‘Anglican Communion Institute’. Despite the fact that there are other bishops on this unofficial body in the US, none of the others affected to put their signatures to this document…” Father Ron, these guys are quaintly known here in North America as the three guys and a website. Aside from Seitz, Turner and Radner, they have recently added two “experts”; a veterinarian to provide insight into human sexuality and a lawyer, without portfolio in theology or canon law, to pontificate on just that, canon law &… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Where I had to stop and scratch my head was at the claim that the Episcopal Church could not sign the Covenant because they wouldn’t mean it if they did, so that even if they do sign the covenant, they really haven’t signed, because their signing it will be a lie, because they couldn’t have really meant it, so they didn’t. This is as fine a specimen of pretzel logic as I’ve ever seen. On the other hand, though I wish Andrew Holden were right (“I sincerely believe that the CofE Synod will not go along with this reactionary and… Read more »

Suem
Guest

I think this document is pretty despicable and,like the response Wright wrote to the ABC’s response it is so arrogant. How can anyone with any sense or moderation really respect Wright anymore?

karen macqueen+
Guest
karen macqueen+

Others have already written well about the pretentious nature of the ACI, a group of a few lay persons, clerics and bishops who endevour in vain to redefine Anglicanism into a weird hybrid of Calvinist theology and Roman Catholic ecclesiology. At least with respect to TEC, their efforts are doomed to failure. First of all, the toothpaste is out of the tube. You can’t get it back in again. Now that TEC has affirmed the full humanity of women and LGBTI persons, couples, and their families, on the ground of our understanding of the Gospel of Jesus and has expressed… Read more »

RosemaryHannah
Guest
RosemaryHannah

Grumpy High Church Woman – as regards Scotland, yes, you are right. Very strong reservations.

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

‘I think he is wrong. the Synod will go along with it, and the triumphant evo party of the C of E will proceed to sack clergy sympathetic to inclusiveness and drive out gay and lesbian parishioners. That’s the real point of this little exercise, isn’t it? that the evos in the C of E will take power and purge the rest of you? The Americans are a means to this end; the spectres of GAFCON and CAPA show what awaits you if you don’t cooperate.’ It’s enough to put me of Christianity –or should that be churchianity (or church-inanity)… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

My 3 pence is that Charlotte is probably right on spot.

john
Guest
john

Well, I know what I’ll be doing, Charlotte: fighting.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Mr. McCall’s expertise in international law is also evident in this document. Pity that international law has little bearing on or relation to ecclesiastical law. How he can get from the autonomy of indigenous peoples in a larger state to the relationships of the member provinces of the Anglican Communion is an example of the old maxim: if your only tool is a hammer everything looks like a nail. The ACI see the Covenant as exactly one thing — and mostly about one thing — and even that they don’t really grasp, defining as settled a set of concerns which… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Gee, this latest long essay from the ACI Gang is pushy. And, all in all, more of their same old, same old. What’s wrong, what’s sort of crazy, what’s damaging? Let’s start with their pride of presuppositional method. Odd that a leading group of highly educated Anglican scholars would so studiously neglect the modern best practice tool kits. There is a whole lot in our modern tool kits, besides doing this conservative Anglican sort of presuppositional moralizing or theologizing. One best use of this essay, then, surely is to subject it to careful and deep scrutiny as a case study… Read more »

Pete
Guest
Pete

ACI…a bunch of irrelevant people desperately trying to appear relevant. These guys have WAY too much time on their hands. Get a job!!!

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Fortunately Charlotte, for all sorts of reasons, I think your analysis is too pessimistic.It would simply be too difficult for the C of E to operate in so coercive a way.

JPM
Guest
JPM

Three fundamentalist preachers, a veterinarian, a lawyer, and England’s most negligent bishop do not make up much of an “institute.”

pete
Guest
pete

It’s sad, really sad, to watch ACI, AAC, ANCA (or Acne because they’re like a blemish), etc. desperately trying to turn back the clock to the 1950s church. This strikes me as the last gasp of a dying animal or a star that goes supernova before it implodes on itself. Ten years from now this crowd will move on to whatever hell they’ve created for themselves, but in the mean time they’ll continue to drain needed resources to address real issues that demand the church’s witness right now. Like the Republicans in the US Congress, Duncan, Iker and the lot… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“… they want to purify the cult and end up with a homogeneous group of people like themselves reliving the glory days of the 1950s church.”

Early on in his Pontificate this was also said about Benedict XVI. And the phenomenon is apparent also in anti Modern Political Islam.

Strange isn’t it?