Thinking Anglicans

UFO Director at ACO on Covenant

Updated again Wednesday morning

Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Director for Unity Faith and Order, The Anglican Communion Office has written a press release:

“For a fair and accurate debate on the Covenant, read it first,” says Unity, Faith and Order director

Many things have already been said in the public arena about the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant. As Provinces around the world continue to discuss this important document I think it worth clarifying some points about it. I am not arguing here for or against the Covenant, merely pointing out that it should be debated fairly, with an accurate reading of the text…

Updates

This article has been swiftly rebutted point by point, on the blog of the No Covenant group. See Pleading Guilty over the Covenant at Comprehensive Unity.

Bishop Alan WIlson has also commented at Only us, redeemed.

From her rather improbably titled office, Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, “UFO Director at the Anglican Communion Office,” reminds us that the Anglican Covenant hovering over us poses no threat to Churches whose antics may be referred to the First Fifteen, but they must accept that if processes of mediation have broken down their actions have (Euphemism alert) “relational consequences.”

Frankly, this phrase needs very careful handing before can possibly be applied to Christians…

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Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
9 years ago

Any document that provides “The Standing Committee may request a Church to defer a controversial action. If a Church declines to defer such action, the Standing Committee may recommend to any Instrument of Communion relational consequences which may specify a provisional limitation of participation in, or suspension from, that Instrument until the completion of the process set out below” is, most definitely, “grant[ing] to any one Church or any agency of the Communion control or direction over any Church of the Anglican Communion,” no matter what else it may say in contradiction. Further, how can the Primates Meeting “work as… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Cynthia Gilliatt
9 years ago

If some members have an “enhanced” level of participation [I think that’s the wording], then others have deminished relationships. How is that not punitive? This statement seems disingenuous to me.

Justin Brett
9 years ago

No problem. Read the text carefully and then vote against it. Simples!

Jeremy Pemberton
Jeremy Pemberton
9 years ago

I just read it again. It is as frightful as it was the first time I read it. Three main things: All the doctrinal stuff in Section 1.2, while ok at one level, seems to have managed to adopt an attitude to doctrinal standards that omits the exercise of human reason – or at least wants it very well-disciplined, “rooted in and answerable to the teaching of Holy Scripture and the catholic tradition”. But there are all kinds of things we are dealing with about which HS and the cath trad are basically silent – or where traditional judgements and… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Lapinbizarre
9 years ago

“The assertion is often made that the ordination of women could not have occurred if the Covenant were in place. It is not at all clear that this would have been the case.”

Certainly lays to rest all my apprehensions about the Covenant.

Tobias Stanislas Haller

The good canon has made a very generous and optimistic reading of the Covenant. I’ve commented at some length as to the problems with that sort of approach.
http://jintoku.blogspot.com/2010/11/ufo-sighting.html

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
9 years ago

I do not know this lady at all, but what she says is, at the very least, remarkably disingenuous. She surely must know that from the very beginning we have known that there is at least one member of the Communion (India) that sees itself as unable to accede to the Covenant. And how can all be “equal” when some are “enhanced”? Or are some now more equal than others? What she writes makes no sense at all. And how can it NOT have any effect on the governance of a Province when Measures and changes in custom or practice… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
9 years ago

I am having a chuckle about Simon’s heading for this thread……

Lee Crawford
9 years ago

In every single response from the TEC task force about drafts of the covenant, the task force signalled with alarm the top-heavy (i.e., increasing episcopal creep) nature of the covenant. Each response emphasised the importance of the clergy and laity in decision-making of the church. This concern evidently was not heeded.

And anything that talks about ‘relational consequences’ smells rather un-covenant like.

Geoff
9 years ago

It’s a bit alarming to hear Canon Barnett-Cowan trying to defang the Covenant when its adoption would make her as a Canadian unlikely to be Director of anything for the Communion.

Kahu Aloha
Kahu Aloha
9 years ago

Just as a child’s parentage cannot be ignored, neither can the would-be covenant be separated from the process that spawned it. Let me count the ways: The various Primates Meetings and the behavior there; the whole Windsor Report process and how some sell it as Holy Writ rather than what it is – a report; who has exercised restraint be it gracious or not; the undue haste to foist the Covenant upon us; the selection of the Covenant drafting Committee and who actually showed up; the Rev. Ephraim Radner being a drafter while simultaneously a director of the Institute of… Read more »

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
9 years ago

The Director of UFO states: ‘The assertion is often made that the ordination of women could not have occurred if the Covenant were in place. It is not at all clear that this would have been the case.’
I applaud Canon Barnett-Cowan’s candour here but this is far from reassuring and surely reveals the depth of the ‘known unknowns’ that surround the Covenant. Its supporters are going to have to do better than this.

Iain McLean
Iain McLean
9 years ago

Is the UFO Director in charge of flying bishops? (Sorry)

JCF
JCF
9 years ago

“The assertion is often made that the ordination of women could not have occurred if the Covenant were in place. It is not at all clear that this would have been the case.”

So *maybe* the Covenant Communion couldn’t keep the Holy Spirit out. That’s the best you got, Canon?

Thanks, but No Thanks.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith
9 years ago

Jeremy: No is not just you! This document is indeed “bishop heavy” and it essentially creates an Anglican Magesterium very similar to the structure of the Roman Catholic Magesterium. This system is a failed and dysfunctional model that serves the hierarchy and leaves the lay person out in the cold on many issues. The present Roman Magesterium is just not working. Reform is needed.

Peter Gross - peterpi
Peter Gross - peterpi
9 years ago

The Anglican Covenant????? Again?????
I thought maybe the UFO director was in place because of REALLY advanced forward thinking and inclusiveness by the ABC’s office.
Never mind. 😉

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
9 years ago

Regarding this statement “It is also not true that non-signatories would no longer count as part of the Communion … The difference would be that signatories will have made a commitment to live in that communion in a particularly enhanced way, and to a process of consultation and common discernment.” This is a perfect example of bureaucratic baflegab. And this statement “The assertion is often made that the ordination of women could not have occurred if the Covenant were in place. It is not at all clear that this would have been the case.” Really? I suspect in if the… Read more »

Kennedy Fraser
Kennedy Fraser
9 years ago

“The assertion is often made that the ordination of women could not have occurred if the Covenant were in place. It is not at all clear that this would have been the case. The consultative processes of the Anglican Communion actually resulted in the discernment that this was an issue about which Anglicans were free to differ. That is exactly the kind of discernment that is needed when any new matter emerges…”

So why do we need the covenant?

Suem
9 years ago

Dreadful! This scanty justification ( and why does it need justifying if all we have to do is read the thing and all will be sweetness and light ) is as mad as a box of frogs!

JPM
JPM
9 years ago

Are these the official talking points from the mothership?

Lois Keen
Lois Keen
9 years ago

The Covenant reflects Archbishop Williams’ desire to make the Anglican Communion palatable to the rest of the catholic churches in the world. It is top-heavy with primates and bishops because that is the model of the rest of the catholic churches. It tries to control doctrine because that is what the others try to do. It is not trying to make us like the rest of the churches because there’s something wrong with the way we are; it is trying to do so because the rest of the churches say they can’t talk with us while we don’t play with… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Cynthia Gilliatt
9 years ago

“Canons to the right of them, Canons to the left of them, volleyed and thundered …” you know the rest of it. Not a happy prospect for those of us likely to be offered up as cannon – or Canon – fodder!

Andrew
Andrew
9 years ago

I think the Covenant leaves out one useful innovation. The Archbishop of Canterbury could nominate some of the bishops and primates to be “prominent.” These “prominents” — they will all be men — will have the right to elect the new Archbishop of Canterbury when he dies or resigns. The Queen and UK Parliament will no longer have a say. This will increase the worldwide acceptance of the Archbishop as head of the Anglican Communion. He may even come to be seen, in due course, as infallible on matters of faith, UFOs, and morals. Any bishops who happen to be… Read more »

Charlotte
Charlotte
9 years ago

I wish I could believe Canon Barnett-Cowan and accept the Covenant as an essentially benign process. I can’t, for all the reasons Kahu Aloha gives, and more. But here is a thought-experiment, for the Canon and others to respond to. Suppose that, following the adoption of the Anglican Covenant, the question is put before the various bodies as to whether faithfully partnered gay or lesbian persons could be ordained priest. Suppose that (using the Canon’s language) “the consultative processes of the Anglican Communion” were to result in “the discernment that this was an issue about which Anglicans were free to… Read more »

Grandmère Mimi
9 years ago

What those in favor of the Anglican Daft Covenant say, in effect, is, “The Covenant is harmless and has no teeth, but WE MUST HAVE IT!” To me, the two views cannot be reconciled.

Laurence Roberts
Laurence Roberts
9 years ago

When I saw UFO I had no idea I’d be reading something from another planet !

Just some kind of sign of perhaps, hope.

Don’t she know not many anglicans are gonna ‘read’ ‘the text’ closely or even at all. We got all the texts we need – too many for most people’s needs / life approach …

However

breathing in
i know this moment
is a wonderful moment

Laurence Roberts
Laurence Roberts
9 years ago

JPM i love that — from the mother-ship— thanx.

Now no slandering of frogs !

That chuckle of martin’s (or yours) surely IS the true (or a true) UFO — a zen / grace moment

Laurence Roberts
Laurence Roberts
9 years ago

Andrew (Tues 16th) thanks for that. The idea of prominents is wonderful–why has no-one come up with it before ? Maybe ARCIC would be interested in it.

Maybe the announcement of the new archbishop could be given in Latin too, following the smoke signal.

Tobias Haller
9 years ago

Chere Mimi, like no-cal soda it makes of virtue of what it lacks. It reminds me of Rowan’s Plaint: I have no power, I can’t do anything. Oh, except remove representatives to committees I appoint, juggle the invitation list to Lambeth, press for voluntary renunciation of voting at the ACC, change the seating and conversation arrangements at the Primates’ “Meeting” and… did I forget anything? No, I think that’s all four Instruments, plus a few ringers. But no power; no, none at all.

Clive
Clive
9 years ago

The mischievous side of me is thinking “who knew the Anglican Communion had a director of Unity, Faith and Order?” and also that they won’t be needing one of those too much longer – unity’s gone already, order’s on the way out and even faith is tenuous in some parts.

Jeremy
Jeremy
9 years ago

Agree with Clive @ 1:25 am and Lois at 9:31 pm

It all starts with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s program to supply schismatics with the dogmatic certainty that hitherto, Anglicanism has not featured.

When this program drives honest people to produce drivel, such as the claim that the Covenant is not punitive despite its provision for “relational consequences,” we know that we cannot look to Canterbury for reasoned truth anymore.

Can we look to the Church of England, as a whole, for reasoned truth? This Synod will be, shall we say, very _consequential_.

MarkBrunson
9 years ago

Well, it starts with a complete divorce from reality – the assumption that us po’ ol’ laypeople ain’t even been smart enough to read that thar covenant, and done had ourselfs riled up by a bunch o’ troublemakers! Then, it proceeds to mention an “accurate” reading of the text, so, even if we have read it – after all, even *laity* are taught to read now, God help us – we just don’t know how to interpret it. Who will? Oh, who will tell us what the prophet truly saith? Undoubtedly, someone in the Standing Committee – Kear-on the Conqueror… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
9 years ago

“It is also not true that non-signatories would no longer count as part of the Communion … The difference would be that signatories will have made a commitment to live in that communion in a particularly enhanced way, and to a process of consultation and common discernment.” – ACO Statement on the Covenant – Yes, they would count alright: for What? For Nothing. They might as well no be in the Anglican Communion. Then perhaps they could just remain as they are now – TEC, the A.C.of C., ect. If ‘common discernment’ means sticking to what has always been done,… Read more »

Laurence C.
Laurence C.
9 years ago

“Phyllis Trible has taught us that sometimes the only way to read Scripture is angrily and under protest at the dreadfulness of what is in the sacred text.” Jeremy Pemberton

Surely the dreadfulness of the ‘sacred’ text is self-evident with or without Phyllis’s teachings?

MarkBrunson
9 years ago

Ahhh, Fr. Ron – you misunderstand the *kind* of “counting;” the kind Rome has long held for the “non-enhanced” in communion: the kind on the spreadsheet.

We’ll be allowed to pay – after all, the right-wingers *claim* superior numbers in everything but cash – but no play.

Tobias Haller
9 years ago

The good Canon also whitewashes the ordination of women. The phrase “impaired communion” unless I’m mistaken, emerged from the lips of Robert Runcie in response to the election of Barbara Harris — and women bishops are still “impaired” when visiting England. Vive la “difference we can live with…”

jnwall
jnwall
9 years ago

No, only Unidentified Flying Ordinaries.

Ian McLean wrote:

Is the UFO Director in charge of flying bishops? (Sorry)

Murdoch
Murdoch
9 years ago

MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 17 November 2010 at 6:55am GMT — right on, forcefully expressed, and quite nonconforming to the civility standards called for by Simon Sarmiento last week. I rather like the freedom to be snarky, but perhaps this limits the conversation to members of the choir.

I loved Tobias Haller’s view of the covenant on another comment thread: A way forward in the wrong direction.

MarkBrunson
9 years ago

Murdoch,

I’ve become convinced that “nice and polite” is not a way to accomplish anything, and most decidedly not in the model of Jesus the Christ *and* His followers, who used terms like hypocrite, viper and whitewashed tomb – not “What you’re saying sounds to me in my understanding to be rather misperceptive of what I think might be God’s Will.” I can’t be wishy-washy about what I truly believe.

Jeremy
Jeremy
9 years ago

Not to mention the fact that “nice and polite” is a characteristic of Anglicanism that these days, a lot of people are trying to take advantage of.

Lynn
Lynn
9 years ago

“…Our messiness is God’s gift to Christianity through us. Learn to appreciate and live with it…” – Lois Keen

I think I want to see this text on a bumper sticker, on every car in my church parking lot!

Father Ron Smith
9 years ago

It seems, in this whole process, that all one of the conservative Provinces had to do was: stay away from Lambeth; organise piratical excursions into and ‘ordain’ faux bishops for other Provinces of the Church; excise Canterbury from it’s founding documents; proclaim another way of ‘being Anglican’ (GAFCON; and Hey Presto! The Communion welcomes you back with the inducement of this two-tier ‘Holier Than Thou’ Covenant. Which of the forward- thinking Provinces of the Communion would want to be associated with, when all they’ve done is to give women and gays their rightful place on the Church, a Gospel move?

MarkBrunson
9 years ago

Jeremy, You’ve got it. I’m a white Southerner (U. S.) and I see a lot of the same thing in liberal Christians that I’ve seen in my childhood and early adolescence. I used to see older black people who would step off the sidewalk into the street, so a white person would have “enough room.” I saw proud, intelligent, well-educated black people begin to talk like a movies stereotype and say, “Yes, ma’am” and “Yes, sir” to white *children.* I saw them apologize for being bumped into *by* a white person. My mother explained it was because they came from… Read more »

karen macqueen+
9 years ago

As a priest in TEC, in a progressive diocese (LA), it seems to me that our consideration of the Covenant will not require much debating and fixing of language. We have been told already that this is the “final version” of the Covenant. So, I think that we will get to an up or down vote if we are truly honest with ourselves. The point that carries the day for me is that we in TEC would have to surrender our identity as a Church, governed by elected bishops and elected clergy and lay representatives, who are accountable to one… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
9 years ago

Thank you, Karen, for that very forthright and unambiguous statement – about the situation in TEC regarding whether or not to sign the Covenant. It seems that each individual Province will need seriously to consider whether its own canons and statutes are sufficiently Gospel-oriented as to resist to imposition of a Communion-wide ‘Rule from On High’ from the standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. Matters of Faith and Order have been decided for us by the historic Creeds of the Catholic Church, and for anyone to seek to impose on anyone else mere shibboleths that would impede the working out… Read more »

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