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…
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…