Thinking Anglicans

Anglican Communion Covenant – final version

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The final version of the Anglican Communion Covenant has been released and sent to the member Churches of the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury has this evening issued a message to go with it.

A message from the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Anglican Communion Covenant

Thursday 17 December 2009

As the final version of the Anglican Communion Covenant is sent to the member Churches of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury has given the following message explaining the purpose of the Covenant and the processes surrounding its adoption.

[On the Archbishop’s website a 4 minute 37 second video follows here.]

A transcript of the Archbishop’s video message is below:

After several years of work, the proposed covenant for the Anglican Communion has now reached its final form and is being distributed to the provinces for discussion, and I hope it will be adopted by as many provinces as possible.

It’s quite important in this process to remember what the Covenant is and what it isn’t, what it’s meant to achieve, and what it’s not going to achieve. It’s not going to solve all our problems, it’s not going to be a constitution, and it’s certainly not going to be a penal code for punishing people who don’t comply. But what it does represent is this: in recent years in the Anglican family, we’ve discovered that our relations with each other as local churches have often been strained, that we haven’t learned to trust one another as perhaps we should, that we really need to build relationships, and we need to have a sense that we are responsible to one another and responsible for each other. In other words, what we need is something that will help us know where we stand together, and help us also intensify our fellowship and our trust.

The covenant text sets out the basis on which the Anglican family works and prays and lives and hopes. The bulk of the text identifies what we hold in common, the ground on which we stand as Anglicans. It’s about the gift we’ve been given as a Church and the gift we’ve been given specifically as the Anglican Communion. All those things we give thanks for, we affirm together, and we resolve together to safeguard and to honour.

The last bit of the Covenant text is the one thats perhaps been the most controversial, because that’s where we spell out what happens if relationships fail or break down. It doesn’t set out, as I’ve already said, a procedure for punishments and sanctions. It does try and sort out how we will discern the nature of our disagreement, how important is it? How divisive does it have to be? Is it a Communion breaking issue that’s in question – or is it something we can learn to live with? And so in these sections of the covenant what we’re trying to do is simply to give a practical, sensible and Christian way of dealing with our conflicts, recognising that they’re always going to be there.

So what happens next? This Covenant is being sent to all the member Churches of the Anglican Communion. Each church will, within its own processes, decide how to handle it, and by the next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in three years time we hope that many provinces will already have said yes to this and adopted it into their own understanding and identity. Clearly the process won’t all be over by then, but we’re hoping to see some enthusiasm, some general adoption of the principles. We hope to see a new kind of relationship emerging. We hope to see people agreeing to these ways of resolving our conflicts.

Beyond that, what’s going to happen? It’s hard to say as yet, but the Covenant text itself does make it clear that at some point it’ll be open to other bodies, other Ecclesial bodies as they’re called, other Churches and communities to adopt this Covenant, and be considered for incorporation into the Anglican Communion. Meanwhile, it’s open to anybody that wishes to affirm the principles of the Covenant – to say that this is what they wish to live with.

So in the next few years we expect to see quite a bit of activity around this. We hope, as I’ve said, that many provinces will feel able to adopt this. We hope that many other bodies will affirm the vision that’s set out here, and that in the long run this will actually help us to become more of a communion – more responsible for each other, presenting to the world a face of mutual understanding, patience, charity and gratitude for one another. In other words, we hope and pray that the Covenant for the Anglican Communion will be a truly effective tool for witness and mission in our world.

The full text of the Anglican Communion Covenant can be found at:

http://www.aco.org/commission/covenant/final/text.cfm

The Covenant Working Party Commentary on Revisions to Section 4 contains an explanation of what they have done.

A PDF file showing the exact textual changes that have been made to Section 4 is available via this page.

An official comparison of the texts is now here in another PDF.

A cover letter from Kenneth Kearon to Primates, Moderators and Provincial Secretaries is here (PDF).

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Neel Smith
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Neel Smith

Wouldn’t the Church be better served if we all forgot about the covenant and worked to save lives in Uganda? I find it impossible at this point to take any admonitions from the Archbishop of Canterbury seriously.

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

So I suppose that, oh, the C of E could, under the provisions of the last part, call into question the Ugandan church’s endorsement of the pending legislation? Of course, that won’t happen until the covenant is accepted, and by then, lots of glbt Ugandans may well have been killed and imprisoned. Pity, that.

badman
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badman

This could hardly be less opportune and the cringing covering letter will not help.

Good.

Let us move on. No document will cover our disagreements and no covenant will replace our responsibility to deal with each other maturely.

Suem
Guest

Oh well, it was much what we thought it would be. It will be like that Aesop’s fable, won’t it, where nobody is pleased.

I actually think it concedes as much as is reasonably possible to a conservative mindset, all the stuff about seeking a “shared mind” and “acting with caution in respect of any action which may provoke controversy” just puts the brakes on ANY progress towards the full affirmation of LGBT people within the Church. Pretty dire!

Tim
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It’s not going to solve all our problems,

This much is certainly true.

it’s not going to be a constitution,

Funnily enough it reads very much like one to me.

and it’s certainly not going to be a penal code for punishing people who don’t comply.

Strangely, that’s exactly how I read sections 4.2.5-6. It is absolutely a penal code for punishing people who don’t comply with the Standing Committee.

choirboyfromhell
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choirboyfromhell

Dead on arrival. Neel’s right, throw it in the wastepaper basket (rubbish bin) and start thinking about the horrors of Uganda (and Rwanda also by the way).

Pluralist
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All authority goes to the Standing Committee!

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2009/12/authority-to-standing-committee.html

(Sorry for posting this in the wrong place at first)

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“The Anglican Communion is a fellowship, within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, of national or regional Churches, in which each recognises in the others the bonds of a common loyalty to Christ expressed through a common faith and order, a shared inheritance in worship, life and mission, and a readiness to live in an interdependent life.” – Covenant section 4.1.1. – How could this possibly be expected to become a reality with, for instance, the Anglican Church of Uganda, which declares LGBT persons as sinners and children of the Devil? The cultural gaps within the Communion have become… Read more »

MarkBrunson
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Well, the Welsh idiot has managed to put the final nail in the communion coffin.

It will certainly kill TEC, if it’s adopted. If TEC adopts it, it won’t get the orthodites back, because it still won’t allow them to do as they please, and TEC will lose its primary supporters still in the church.

Perhaps, that’s what the Welsh idiot wants.

toby forward
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When I was a university chaplain the Christian Union invited my bishop to speak at one of their meetings. They asked him to sign the Doctrinal Basis before he arrived. You can find this here: http://www.uccf.org.uk/about-us/doctrinal-basis.htm The bishop said that he would love to come to their meeting, but that he could not sign the document, not because it may or may not represent his views, but because he had already given his assent to the Catholic creeds and that he felt that he did not need to make any other declaration. This is the position that members of the… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
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Badman put it in so many words, methinks.

John Bunyan
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John Bunyan

(1) Offensive language such as that used in one of the previous comments should not be approved , but (2) neither can the Covenant at least in the Anglican Church of Australia, which is an autonomous Church with its own Constitution, one that keeps us in communion with “the Church of England” but which simply is not going to be changed to incorporate any reference to the Anglican Communion or to a Covenant. We have innumerable links of many different kinds and of varying strength, Biblical, sacramental, personal, ecclesiastical, institutional, with Churches of the Anglican Communion of which we happily… Read more »

Robert Ian williams
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Robert Ian williams

Is the ” Welsh idiot ” Rowan Williams or Robert Williams….!

Charlotte
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Charlotte

The Covenant Revision Committee writes: “Traditionally, Anglicans have asserted the ecclesial character of the national Church as the privileged unit of ecclesiastical life. The Church of England’s very existence was predicated upon such an assumption at the time of the Reformation. Recognised in most cases as “Provinces”, these national or regional Churches are the historical bodies through which the life of the Anglican Communion has been expressed, and they are the primary parties for whom the covenant has been designed. If, however, the canons and constitutions of a Province permit, there is no reason why a diocesan synod should not… Read more »

Charlotte
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Charlotte

Oh, and while I am at it, here’s the take in the Telegraph article: “If the provinces sign up to the document, whose final draft has been published online, they agree not to carry out any contentious actions such as putting their clergy in another country without its agreement, electing openly homosexual priests or blessing same-sex unions in church.” It is priests, not bishops, they mean to forbid. NOTE THIS. They intend to drill down to the parish level in the US, interrogating our priests to find out if any are less than robustly heterosexual, then demand we remove them,… Read more »

Jay Vos
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Jay Vos

It’s a messy mess indeed. As other’s have noted, the Baptismal Covenant stated in TEC’s BCP is good enough for me.

What griped me about the ABC’s video announcement was the sweetness and nice about our wonderful “Anglican family.” Then he proceeds with his hypocritical, top-down, paternalistic clap trap! I don’t buy it at all.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“If the provinces sign up to the document, whose final draft has been published online, they agree not to carry out any contentious actions such as putting their clergy in another country without its agreement, electing openly homosexual priests or blessing same-sex unions in church.” So it’s no longer acceptable to be gay but celibate? And they think that any person with a shred of moral conscience can sign this? If any Western province does indeed sign this, they will do nothing more than perpetuate the state of lying about what’s truly going on in their parishes. Because of course,… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

Today’s ‘Magnificat’ whose words are put into the mouth of Mary, the mother of Jesus, ought to reassure us that God’s way will triumph in the end. It is not through any sort of papal primacy, or ambitious designation about’who’s in and who’s out?’ of the Communion, that will determine the future of the Anglican Communion (if it remains); but rather the Wisdom (O Sapientia) of God. No future Covenant, which seeks to exclude certain Provinces on account of their perceived liberal interpretation of the Gospel’s imperative for justice and love, will in the end prevail. So please, my dear… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

“[T]here are more with you than you might be presently aware of.”

If so, it is time — high time — for those who are “with” the churches of North American to say so publicly.

Bosco Peters
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MarkBrunson
Guest

Robert, I’ve never known you to behave like an idiot.

Well, the papist thing aside. 😀

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

Responses to the Final Draft of the Covenant have already been received from 21 of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion. Here is a significant extract from the response of the majority of the New Zealand Tikanga Pakeha (European) Dioceses: “As with earlier submissions, a number of respondents in the New Zealand Dioceses consider that the Covenant is a reactionary response to poor individual behaviour rather than a carefully discerned manifestation of God’s will and direction at this time. It is believed that a Covenant will not achieve unity, will exclude rather than include, will judge one part of the… Read more »

Tim
Guest

Toby, thanks for linking to that UUCF `doctrinal basis’. It’s been bugging me, on & off, since my days in Edinburgh. I could not now sign it.