Thinking Anglicans

Three articles from the Living Church

There have been several articles recently in the Living Church by Church of England writers.

Andrew Goddard has written about Establishment in the CofE.
See Arbiters of the Faith?

The Church of England, wrestling with internal differences over provision for opponents of women bishops and over responses to same-sex relationships, could soon find a further contentious topic being added to the mix: the question of establishment, the church’s relationship with the state. This has been highlighted by two recent developments in which government ministers or Members of Parliament have pressed for a certain conception of equality in English law and society…

Paul Avis and Geoffrey Rowell have both written about the Anglican Covenant.

See Catholicity Outweighs Autonomy by Avis.

The future of the Anglican Communion is in jeopardy. The Windsor Report proposed an Anglican Covenant, centering on mutual commitment, to secure a unified future for the Communion. The Anglican Covenant is the only credible proposal that I am aware of to help hold this family of churches together. The alternative to the Covenant is to allow the present sharp tensions to be worked out in the formal separation of some churches of the Communion from others — and that means schism, and the fracture and possible dissolution of the Anglican Communion…

And Belonging Together by Rowell.

…As vice-chair for a number of years of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations, I am aware of how divisions in the Communion pose challenges to our ecumenical partners in dialogue — who are we talking to? Do Anglicans affirm same-sex relationships as equal and equivalent to marriage, or do they uphold Christian teaching of marriage as being a lifelong union between a man and a woman? Behind the particular questions are questions about authority in the Communion, and our belonging together. The Anglican Covenant emerges out of this situation and is a result of careful consultation. If we can make ecumenical agreements with other churches we ought clearly be able to do so among ourselves…


  • Jean Mary Mayland says:

    We have managed to act differently and stay together in the past. Paul Avis does not explain what is so special about sexuality.

    Geoffrey Rowell speaks of ecumenism solely in terms of Roman Catholics and Orthodox. There are other Churches- Methodist, URC ,Presbyterian and Congregationalist who have much more open ideas about same sex couples. Surely we need to be in dialogue with them too. Sadly recently the ‘powers that be’ in the C of E only seem to have been concerned with an ecumenism that looks one way.

  • Richard Ashby says:

    Andrew Goddard’s concern about ‘the Church of England’s teaching and discipline in relation to marriage’ would not be of so much concern if the C of E hadn’t appropriated marriage to itself in the first place. If the State wishes to change the nature of civil marriage to include same sex unions then why not? The problem is that the Church has got itself so mixed up with the State that it has to oppose such developments and looks increasingly out of touch with developments in society.

    Te best outcome by far would be for all marriages to be civil and conducted by an officer of the state in secular buildings. Those couples who wished for a religious ceremony could then arrange this separately. Should the CofE and the RC church continue to stand out against marrying same sex couples then no doubt the Quakers and others would be eager to offer their hospitality.

  • The articles by Avis and Rowell both seem to me to reflect the old argument about the Eucharist: is it a sign of unity or a means to unity? Can it only be shared with those already united by some other means (whether baptism itself — under some challenge in some places; or ecclesiastical affiliation — with those not part of the same sect excluded) or as the “medicine of the world” to bring about unity.

    As the Covenant itself becomes the object of dissension and division, based on who signs on or not, then it has become the very thing against which both of them seem to speak: a shibboleth, not an engine of unity, but a marker of division.

  • Prior Aelred says:

    What Jean said — within the Anglican Communion there has been significant ecumenical advance with the Mar Thoma Church (in South India) & the Old Catholics (who rejected Vatican I) & recently with the Lutherans in Scandinavia (Porvoo) & North America (TEC & ELCA — the Anglican Church of Canada with Lutherans — TEC with the two Moravian groups in the USA) — certainly ecumenism with these groups will face a setback if the WWAC ostracizes gays since the Old Catholics & the Swedish Lutherans have taken a position more advanced than TEC or the Canadians, whereas progress in ecumenical relations with the RC & Eastern Churches will not improve unless the WWAC also renounces women in ministry (& also accepts papal primacy & undoes the the IV Crusade — which are not going to happen & mutually exclusive anyway …)

  • Jeremy says:

    Paul Avis wrote, “The alternative to the Covenant is to allow the present sharp tensions to be worked out in the formal separation of some churches of the Communion from others.”

    Won’t the Covenant “formalize separation” as well? How is the Covenant a solution to that problem?

    Is it too much to ask that pro-Covenant arguments be coherent?

  • Perry Butler says:

    And Lutherans too Jean ,and Old Catholics. We seem to still be in communion with Poorvoo Churches that have women bishops ( including a partnered lesbian) and an accepting view of same sex couples. Are we likely formally to break communion with these Churches?…after all the Poorvoo arrangements are pretty recent.I suspect not, despite some huffing and puffing in Synod.I would have thought the present atmosphere in both Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy precludes much liklihood of ecumenical “progress” for a good while. I rather wish we could have more realism and candour.

  • peterpi - Peter Gross says:

    Andrew Goddard, I suspect, has no problems with Establishment — when Establishment works in the direction he desires.
    He is discomforted with Parliament’s intervention (How dare MPs feel women bishops should be treated equally!), only because he disagrees with the MPs.
    But, as long as the CofE is an Established Church, as long as Parliament has a legislative role to play in the life of the CofE, then consequences like what Mr. Goddard fears can happen.
    Under the present English anti-discrimination laws, I assume Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Churches, and other faith groups are free to have (presumed) heterosexual men exclusively as their priests or religious ministers, and Parliament does not intervene. Likewise the Unitarian religion, Liberal Judaism, and other faith groups are free to create women, gay, or lesbian rabbis or other ministers.
    I know this is a radical step for some people of England, with consequences for English society, but if the CofE were disestablished, then Mr. Goddard’s fear of MPs telling the CofE what to do would be diminished.
    Or, does Mr. Goddard like the Established Church, when the CofE tells Parliament what to do (all those conservative Lords Spiritual), and not the other way around?

  • JCF says:

    When I was doing my doctorate in ecumenism, I recall using Dr. Paul Avis’s book “Christians in Communion.” It was clear explication of the then (1990) century-old Anglican ecumenical vision—rooted in the ***Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral***.

    The fact that in his LC piece, Dr Avis doesn’t even *mention* the Quad, is tremendously sad. What is it about the (homo)sexuality issue that makes otherwise intelligent (and faithful) Anglicans simply devolve from their previous faith commitments?

    I honestly don’t understand. 🙁

  • JCF says:

    Rowell: “…or do they uphold Christian teaching”

    Once you’ve phrased (spun) it that way, any pretensions of DIALOGUE are going, going, Gone.

  • Bill Moorhead says:

    Every time the threat of secession/expulsion in the context of the “Anglican” Covenant comes up, I am reminded (as an American) that we are currently observing the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War. Despite all the baloney that some folks (I think primarily but not necessarily exclusively in the South) put out, our Civil War really was about enslaving other human beings. The issue of “States’ rights” was a smokescreen. The “rights” the states wanted was the right to enslave other human beings. If in the early 19th century the United States had said, “Yes, the Brits are right, it’s time to abolish slavery,” there might well have been subsequent arguments over the balance of states rights and federal authority on various issues, but there would not have been a civil war.

    Similarly, despite all the smokescreens about “orthodoxy” and “mutual responsibility,” the current Anglican flap really is about how we relate to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. I’m not willing to break communion with anyone, even Nigeria or Uganda (or even Sydney!), and I’m quite willing to talk and pray with those who think we are mistaken. If the Anglican Communion breaks up, it won’t be our doing, but a decision by others, and any who try to blame us for it are self-deluded (which is a gentler phrase than “liars or fools”).

  • Cynthia Gilliatt says:

    Right after the Revolutionary War, when the C of E was disestablished in the States, it could have disappeared. Instead, it re-formed itself with a polity not unlike that of the fledgling US, gritted its teeth, and went on being church, leaving state to fend for itself. [I know, I know – over simplified]. When I read about the C of E’s difficulties over marriages, sexuality, and the like, I am very glad we are not the church established!

  • “The very first thing we want to say about our church is that it belongs to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ. But if we belong, with others, to something much bigger than ourselves, then we belong together and not in autonomous isolation.” – Paul Avis –

    Would Paul Avis contend, then, that the Church of England, which governs itself and is independent of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, is not part of the ‘Catholic and Apostolic Church’? After all, it is independent of both the others.

    By the very same reasoning, the independent Provinces of the Anglican Communion, which govern themselves independently, are each part of the ‘Catholic and Apostolic Church – or so most of us believe. Does Mr Goddard think otherwise?

    On this bit of his reasoning alone, his argument for the need of a Covenant – in order to maintain the catholicity and apostolicity of each of the Anglican Provinces – is null and void!

  • Geoffrey Rowell makes the same mistake as his friend Mr Avis – in putting his argument for the need of a Covenant, he says, in order to retain the catholicity and apostolicity of the separately governed Provincial Churches of the Communion:

    ” To be in Christ is to be bound together in mutual responsibility and interdependence.”
    – Geoffrey Rowell –

    Do these two people not believe that each Provincial Church of the Communion is an entity in itself – bearing the marks of the ‘catholic and apostolic Church of Christ’? We don’t need a Covenant to affirm what we already are: members of the Body of Christ, in situ.

    What would be good, though, would be to acknowledge, afresh, our joint membership of the ‘catholic and apostolic’ Church of Christ – as Anglicans – without the proscriptive ethos of a governing body (as prescribed in Section 4 of the Covenant Document) – like the Vatican for Roman Catholics – which would seek to discipline the independent Churches on theological matters with which ‘Head Office’ did not agree.

    If that were the case, then the Anglican Church might never have come into being in the first place; there would have been no ‘Orthodox Church’ of the East; not would there be any of the other Churches that today make up the World Council.

    We are all ‘One in Christ’, I believe, because we have all been baptized into Him through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. – Not because we sign a document to limit our initiatives in mission.

  • Cheryl Va. says:

    These ponderings lead to the comment that some care about the Anglican Communion because in the UK, that somehow reflects what the secular state will condone.

    Better to be free of the secular state, so that one’s followers are for thee, and not the implied “power” of being able to influence a state in what it will or will not condone.

    Even better, be in a state that denounces all abuse and failure to provide refuge (e.g. as then Prime Minister Rudd did for Australia) and provide refuge and justice for all souls.

    Better to be in secular state that provides justice, fairness and mercy to all (Yes, Australia is not there yet, but at least it is trying) than in a state that aids and abets bullies and xenophobics.

    Jesus claimed to be the manifestation of God with unconditional love and offered gentleness, how does Jesus feel about the cruelty, selfishness and abuse done by his Christians? Who are Christians to complain of persecution when they aid and abet those who persecute and abuse, women, children and others (both within their own faith, and without)?

  • Sara MacVane says:

    I think the question of unity in order to sign ecumenical agreements is nonsense, since those Anglican churches which have signed important agreements and those churches with which they have signed are all separate ‘of a certain tradition’ churches rather than ‘all the X churches round the world’. C-of-E signed the Porvoo agreement, but Canada didn’t or Australia either and C-of-E didn’t sign up with the German Lutherans or the French Lutherans. TEC has an agreement with one important group of Lutherans in USA, but not all the Lutheran conventions there. And we could go on and on ….This is proper as well, because local situations, churches, and circumstances are different. None of the others (except the RC) are single world-wide blocks which make every important decision all together. And of course some of them, like the Porvoo Lutheran churches have already taken positions which those in favour of the covenant wouldn’t agree with.

  • Mark Clavier says:


    I think you implicitly answer your own question. The Quad was intended to be used as an ecumenical document, aimed at providing guidance on ecumenical talks with non-Anglican Churches (though, the Chicago quadrilateral also had the newly formed Reformed Episcopal Church in it’s sights). Now, it may be useful to use it for internal matters, but I think such a use would need some explanation as it would be to use the document in a way that it’s framers did not intend.

    I still think that a careful reading of section 4 of the Covenant, which lays out a series of recommendations for various bodies and provinces to provide recommendations over a period of time when there is disagreement is not nearly the curial authority that many make it out to be.

    Or, if it is, then we Anglicans must be allergic to any kind of external authority however limited. Then, I think we ought to explain why we’re happy with internal, provincial authority but not an external, minimally conciliar authority. Or is it ultimately all about the locus of power?

  • Martin Reynolds says:

    Mark Clavier makes a good point, and asks appropriate questions, particularly as presently in some places the autonomy of diocese and the creation of a central, provincial juridical authority is gaining some notice.

    My own view is that the Covenant (and much of the Windsor Process) has ecumenism as one of its main driving forces – it is not insignificant that the man behind a great deal of it and who still passionately speaks for it (the Bishop of St Asaph) was the Ecumenical Officer for the Communion. The RCC has been pressing for some time for us to become “A Church” … and the idea we have a “deficit” of some kind has almost become an accepted fact in some quarters.

    As one who is all for a closer working relationship between the churches of the Communion and a greater sense of unity in faith and mission – this is not the time and this is not the document which will secure this. In fact it will (and has already) divided us further. I am not a believer in the view being promulgated that “something is better than nothing” and I take the contrary view to Avis – without THIS Covenant we will see far less damage and we may end up with the Entente that help us flourish.

    On the ecumenical front – the RCC is going through a major period of retrenchment and revision while Orthodoxy has many problems (as usual!) – we ought to be focusing on deepening our relationships with those who share our Reformed heritage – that is where our present energies would best be spent – rather than sharing the deepening anxieties of the RCCs and Orthodox diaspora.

    Stephen Lyon’s work within the ACO on the hermeneutical disparity that exists lies at the heart of our present difficulties – this Covenant not only does not help that problem – it rather entrenches the power systems that cause it.

  • I must agree with Sara. Frankly, I believe that having the Anglican Communion qua Anglican Communion in ecumenical talks is a total waste of time and money. The Communion has never made an agreement with another church and, if it did, would not the individual Anglican churches want to have some say about it? As an Episcopalian, I do not want the ABC or his minions negotiating for my church.

  • John (1) says:

    Practically speaking, I am in communion with Lutherans and Moravians in North America, and I am not in communion with Anglicans in Nigeria or Uganda. When I travel in Europe, I welcome the opportunity to worship in Old Catholic parishes, or the Church of Norway. It bothers me not at all that I am not in communion with Rome; the distance between my beliefs and that church’s is so great, I cannot imagine attending a Catholic Mass. And I certainly would not want to see us make commitments to the Roman or Orthodox churches that would require us to turn our backs on our Lutheran, Moravian, or Old Catholic brothers and sisters.

  • Prior Aelred says:

    What Martin said: “this is not the time and this is not the document which will secure this. In fact it will (and has already) divided us further”

    (although it actually seems to me that the entire point of the Anglican Covenant is to cause schism)

  • Robert Ian Williams says:

    Sorry, but the Covenant is only a start for the Roman Catholic Church. We want you to give up and repent of no fault divorce and re-marriage, contraception, women deacons, priests and bishops, lay celebration, gay blessings, gay ordinations and adoptions. Also throw in embryo experimentation and IVF. Total capitulation is we told the Ordinariate converts , the Catholic Catechism is what you sign up to.

    So the idea that the Anglican Covenant will help ecumenism is complete drivel.

  • Brother Clavier, having studied the text, and participated in discussions on it, I agree that Section 4 might be “less curial” than feared. Sadly, I found it difficult less because it’s curial than because it’s capricious. Any national church can raise an issue with any other – virtually *any* issue – and there is no guidance in the document to guide the Standing Committee regarding what “affects all.” New authority is given the Standing Committee to make that determination on the front end, and to recommend “relational consequences” on the back end. So, with no standards established at the beginning (and, no, principles stated and not vagueness would provide more flexibility for future development, like boundaries for a toddler), decisions will almost certainly look capricious to one party of any dispute.

    I take your question seriously about external authority. I can only point to our history. The Church of England was born in rejecting external authority. The Episcopal Church, the first independent church in the Anglican tradition, wanted connection with the Church of England, but would not grant authority. As the Empire fell, the Church of England established new independent churches, rather than retaining authority. It seems to me conciliar authority, however minimal, is not consonant with Anglican history.

  • The Anglican Covenant as proposed is not the cure for the Anglican allergy to uniformity. It is not even a treatment for the symptoms. It is itself an allergen exacerbating the ailment.

  • Geoff says:

    “Now, it may be useful to use it for internal matters, but I think such a use would need some explanation as it would be to use the document in a way that it’s framers did not intend.”

    This is the stock pro-Covenant response to JCF’s objection, but it essentially grasps at a distinction without a difference. If the CLQ is sufficient for determining whether we have enough common ground to enter into full communion with Christians with whom we aren’t yet in such a relatonship, surely we can’t move the goal posts once the communion is achieved? “Here is we what we require for admission but once you’re in there will be another test to pass if you want to stay in.” If we can build full communion relationships with non-Anglicans on the strength of the Quad then for God’s sake surely we can figure it out with other Anglicans! Or is it simply that there are no disputants so acrimonious as two brothers?

  • ” I think we ought to explain why we’re happy with internal, provincial authority but not an external, minimally conciliar authority. Or is it ultimately all about the locus of power?”

    – Posted by: Mark Clavier on Sunday –

    Not so much Power, Clavier, as Authority. Each of the Provincial Churches of the Anglican Communon presently has its own statutes and ordinances – while adhering, generally, to the ‘Catholic and Reformed’ ethos of Anglicanism – as received, and later moderated, by each Province in accordance with local needs of mission and context.

    We are not Roman Catholics, even though we do share something of the Catholic and Apostolic charism of both that Church and the Orthodox Churches of the East. We are already ‘One in Christ’ – even though commentators like RIW (having himself once been a protestant) would not accede to that opinion.

    I, too, cherish my connection with the Church of England (wherein I was Baptized and Confirmed as a full member of the Body of Christ). However, I am now a priest (retired but active) of the ACANNZP in the South Pacific, which has three, separate, ethnic and cultural entities within its coporate structure – a reality which occurred by local initiative, and which we took on ourselves because of local exingencies; without feeling the need to refer to ‘Head Office’.

    One of the problems of the proposed Covenant, is that our 3-cultural-strands ecclesiology may not have been possible without the consent of every other Province, most of which may not be able to understand our burgeoning local needs. The Holy Spirit works in different ways in different places with differing needs. This is one reason I’m not a Roman Catholic. And one reason, I suspect, that there is a pragmatic plurality in the Church.

  • Prior Aelred says:

    I wholeheartedly & entirely agree with Robert Ian Williams (when did I think I would ever say that?)

  • peterpi - Peter Gross says:

    Has RIW on Sunday, 17 April 2011 at 8:43pm BST gained a sense of humor?
    Or is he serious? If he’s serious, when did he replace Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ?

  • Mark Clavier says:


    I think you’re largely right about the ecumenical dimension of the Covenant document, though I would add that almost every process and statement these days has at least a token ecumenical dimension.

    It occurred to me after writing my last post, that for all the appeals to the Lambeth Quadrilateral, I suspect few of us today would actually support it’s raison d’etre: to provide guidance for minimal requirements for ecumenical engagement and for the sharing of pulpits. I suspect most of us prefer the present environment which allows for a much wider engagement than just with those churches that obviously meet the 4 criteria of the Quadrilateral. Useful for us to remember that it was written in the very early days of ecumenism.

    There are aspects about the covenant about which I am lukewarm, and I think the choice of the name–‘Covenant’–lacked a certain amount of insight into how words are received. Certainly, those of us of a more high church persuasion are suspicious of covenants. But I think the process itself, even with all the rhetoric surrounding it, is a healthy one, though many here will disagree.

  • Mark Clavier says:


    But none of the churches presently engaged in the process entered into communion through the Quadrilateral. Either they were already in existence or were formed by those who initially supported the Quadrilateral. So, no movement of goal posts, unless we oddly began to insist that those with whom we do engage ecumenically must agree to the principles of the Covenant.

    I like to think of the Quadrilateral as the equivalent of a country’s diplomatic protocol for international agreements while the Covenant is closer to something like the Lisbon Agreement. In fact, the development of the European Union provides all sorts of useful analogies for the understanding the Covenant.

  • Mark Clavier says:


    Yes, the lack of detail in section 4 is one of the reasons why I’m a little lukewarm about the actual document…that, and it seems like a bureaucrat’s dream!

    In terms of the traditional Anglican regard to external authority, I think there is much to what you say. I can’t say that I’m entirely comfortable, though, with that tradition, dependent as it is on the concomitant growth in nationalism.

    Also, we Anglicans have been happy to depart from our traditions in the past. Many decried the abandonment of the traditional role of the Articles or, more recently, the movement away from the Cranmerian Prayer Book tradition. Indeed, those opposed to liturgical revision often argued that the new liturgies are unAnglican. Look also at the Erastian traditions that churches outside of the UK had to abandon in order to continue.

    Now, obviously, none of this means that the traditional Anglican suspicion of external authority is also worth abandoning. But I think we now have a tradition of adaptation that would allow us to do so if we deem it necessary…and we’d still be as Anglican as ever.

  • Robert Ian Williams says:

    Yes I am serious..that is the reality. Furthermore I forgot to mention that we also require renunciation of reformation theology.The 39 articles are for the bin and you can keep parts of the BCP only when it has been doctored by ourselves, and Protestant errors removed!

    By joining Rome, Anglicans are implicitly agreeing that Cranmer and his chums got it wrong.

    Behind all the ecumenical froth and pleasantries, that is the reality!

  • Sara MacVane says:

    @RIW (can’t resist)
    As I’ve said many times before here and others have confirmed, Robert, it’s a two way street. It’s just that we Anglicans are a little more discreet about those who cross the Tiber in our direction.

  • Robert, your evangelical slip is showing!

  • RPNewark says:

    Prior Aelred – “I wholeheartedly & entirely agree with Robert Ian Williams (when did I think I would ever say that?)”

    Just what I was going to say.

    peterpi – “Has RIW gained a sense of humor? Or is he serious? If he’s serious, when did he replace Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ?”

    Oh, he’s serious alright and he replaced Fr. Federico when he gave up thinking and went over to Rome.

  • Geoff says:

    “But none of the churches presently engaged in the process entered into communion through the Quadrilateral.”

    Hmm. Imagine this.

    A group of Christians approaches the Anglican Communion about negotiating a relationship of intercommunion. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that they inhabit a part of the world outside the jurisdiction of any extant Anglican province, and that while not Anglican by descent or branding, they practice a recognizable episcopal-synodical evangelical-catholicism as expressed by the Quad. As a result of dialogue with the Communion’s structures they are able to form a relationship of Eucharistic sharing with its provinces, and then ultimately able to form a relationship of full communion in the manner of, say, the Philippine Independents – all of this so far being, again, on the strength of bilateral dialogue based on the principles of the Quad.

    Finally, having lived this arrangement for some time, the Anglican full-communion partners of our hypothetical locale request full integration into Anglican episcopal oversight – perhaps, say, as an extra-provincial cure of the ++Cantuar à la Portugal or the Falklands. The petition is accepted and they are permitted to sign on as full-fledged Anglicans.

    Following your reasoning, there are now two options:

    1) By signing up as members of the Communion proper they effectively sign themselves temporarily out of the communio in sacris they previously shared, since in doing so they are signing on to a higher standard. So there is a kind of “Inauguration Day” moment between their becoming Anglicans (as opposed to churches in communion) and thus subject to the Covenant and their signing onto the said Covenant as required by their newly exalted status. Now pragmatically this problem could be solved by doing both at once, but that doesn’t resolve the tension in operating it like this: it merely hides it from view.

    2) The new Anglican province is admitted as such with all the privileges thereto attached, but not the responsibilities laid down in the Covenant, which only those Anglican provinces who had the misfortune of already being in place when the Covenant was adopted are expected to do, while any coming after belong to a perpetually distinct order of Anglican provinces subject to a different set of standards and expectations(in at least one respect, viz. that of Covenant adoption). If the Episcopal Church were to quit the Communion now and apply for admission on such standing in a couple of decades, could they then avail themselves of the ‘newcomer’ membership requirements?

    Neither of those sounds plausible to me. So I still have to say I’m not prepared to grant the distinction you seek, because if it leads to a catch 22 like that then there is something wrong with it. Part of the absurdity of it all was illustrated when ++Rowan banished reps of the gay-tainted provinces from ecumenical dialogues, including with Old Catholic and Lutheran partners, since their errant Anglican views compromised their ability to offer such representation. Except since those churches themselves think our stance on homosexuality is not “revised” *enough*, is he really doing it as a courtesy to them or to himself?

  • Robert ian Williams says:

    Do I not speak the truth? This is what Rome wants, and so often they disguise it in convulated praise.

    They are still pursuing ARCIC… do they really believe that 9,000 women priests will one day voluntarily resign.

    That contraception will be banned.

    The list could go on….. I apologise for ecumeniucal self deception.

  • Mark Clavier says:


    I think in some ways it’s not as complicated as you suggest and in other ways much more so. More so, because my understanding is that provinces within the Communion have differing ecumenical approaches. So, for example, the Church of England still pursues full ecclesial union while TEC now has a policy of not doing so, seeking instead to establish full communion with other churches while leaving the question of union ‘to the parousia’ as one representative once put it to me. Finally, some Global South provinces (I am told) share communion with all sorts of non-episcopal churches that Western provinces would find problematic. What a mess we are!

    In terms of the covenant, my understanding (without rechecking the text) is that in the scenario you describe, communio in sacris would not be lost. After application and prior to full admission, a church would share full communion at least with the province(s) with which such has been established, but would not be admitted to any of the communion’s representative bodies. My assumption is that any church would have to meet the protocols of the Quadrilateral (as they are rather generously interpreted today) to begin the process of admission.

    So say, for example, that the Porvoo Churches suddenly wanted to become part of our winning and personable company. Effectively, this would both widen their ecumenical relationship to include other Anglican provinces and deepen it through obtaining membership. Having satisfied the Quad., they would now determine whether they could subscribe to sections 1-3 of the Covenant. If so, then they could begin the process while retaining their relationship with the CofE. If not, then they would continue as normal, though nothing would prevent other provinces from seeking an ecumenical relationship with them.

    But, as I say, I could be wrong as I don’t have the text in front of me.

  • Martin Reynolds says:

    Is “ecumeniucal” a combination of ecumenical and maniacal. At Robert’s tender hands it somehow seems to make sense …..

  • Fr Mark says:

    You wouldn’t guess from Geoffrey Rowell’s piece that he IS by the terms of his job description in full communion with the Church of Sweden, Church of Iceland, Church of Norway, Church of Denmark and Old Catholic Church, all of which bless or marry same-sex couples; yet he is NOT in full communion with the Orthodox or Roman Catholic churches, the latter of which does not even recognise his orders.

  • Robert ian Williams says:

    Oops ..typing error.

    An excellent comment from Mark…..and also note Rowell has women priests in his diocese who he doesn’t believe are priests! There is also a large wodge of evangelicals who believe his
    ” Catholic ” theology is a travesty of true Anglicanism.

  • Sara MacVane says:

    And yet the Bishop in Europe does license women as ‘priest-in-charge of xyz’, so does that mean he foments non-ordained non-priest on his faithful? Doesn’t sound good (and as you know I am one his priests)

  • Rod Gillis says:

    RIW posted “Sorry, but the Covenant is only a start for the Roman Catholic Church. We want you to give up and repent of no fault divorce and re-marriage, contraception, women deacons, priests and bishops, lay celebration, gay blessings, gay ordinations and adoptions ….”

    Perhaps, in an effort to get away from this kind of patriarchal dogmatism, that is why so many roman Catholics, according to this R.C. source, are taking their business elsewhere…. or just no where…

  • rick allen says:

    “our Civil War really was about enslaving other human beings. The issue of “States’ rights” was a smokescreen.”

    Not exactly. The substantive issue was slavery. But an important component of that was whether the slavery issue actually required a national resolution. Could the Union continue with one section condemning slavery and another embracing it, as it had at its inception? Could the problem be finessed by “States’ Rights”–state autonomy–on the issue?

    Similarly, the questions regarding sexuality and marriage raise the question of whether, in a single polity, it is credible for one part to affirm and bless what the other part considers seriously sinful and in need of repentence.

  • Geoff, if I recall the text of the Covenant, it still defines membership in the *Anglican Communion* is still participation in the Anglican Consultative Council. So, we can have the unclear situation where an Anglican church could be a participant in the ACC, and invited to Lambeth, for example, without signing the Covenant. The provisions of the Covenant would then be directive for a subset of Anglican churches that have signed, and for signatory churches that are not participants in the ACC (as some have speculated ACNA might act); but not for all churches of the Communion. Indeed, the test is explicit that signing the Covenant *doesn’t* obligate any of the Instruments to recognize such a signatory church. The text of the Covenant could be amended; but at this point, we can have these overlapping but not identical categories.

  • Pat O'Neill says:


    Still a smokescreen. In 1860, there was no federal effort to make slave states renounce slavery. Lincoln was elected on a platform of not expanding slavery, but not abolishing it, either.

  • “Similarly, the questions regarding sexuality and marriage raise the question of whether, in a single polity, it is credible for one part to affirm and bless what the other part considers seriously sinful and in need of repentence.”
    – Rick Allen –

    The same goes with the polity of the Roman Catholic Church – regarding Marriage annulment.
    Not to mention allowing couples practising contraception to receive Holy Communion!

    Throwing dirt does no-one any good.

  • Nat says:

    “…the questions regarding sexuality and marriage raise the question of whether, in a single polity, it is credible for one part to affirm and bless what the other part considers seriously sinful and in need of repentence.”

    Perhaps a more important question is whether it is acceptable for one part of the polity to refuse the other permission to bless what they believe they are called to bless by the Holy Spirit, or to deny the validity of their discernment? Over and over, conservatives seem to believe that there can be no New Thing, that we have learned nothing, that there is no radical in-gathering, no history of making of once-despised things something sanctified.

    Would it be profitable to consider both Gamaliel’s advice to the Sanhedrin, and perhaps Matthew 18:18 as well?

  • robert ian williams says:

    Bishop Rowell does not ordain women, but licenses them..says everything about his theology.

    Ron, abuses, do not disprove Catholic doctrine.

    the facrt is Anglicans cannot even agree as to what their doctrine is.

    Is it the neo-purtnism of Sydney or the Anglo catholic extremes of Zanzibar?

  • Erika Baker says:

    “the fact is Anglicans cannot even agree as to what their doctrine is.”

    The fact is that Anglicans do not have to agree on what their doctrine is. Each Province can follow its own discernment.
    That is the whole point of it.
    Or was, before people proposed the Covenant.

  • Pat O'Neill says:

    “the fact is Anglicans cannot even agree as to what their doctrine is…”

    Because Anglicans have only one all-encompassing “doctrine”…it’s called the Nicene Creed. Everything else is window-dressing, at best.

  • Jeremy says:

    “Similarly, the questions regarding sexuality and marriage raise the question of whether, in a single polity, it is credible for one part to affirm and bless what the other part considers seriously sinful and in need of repentence.”
    – Rick Allen –

    What “polity” are you talking about?

    If you mean the Anglican Communion, it isn’t a polity, and never was.

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