Yes to the Covenant has issued this press release (not yet on its website):
ANGLICAN COVENANT SUPPORTERS EXPRESS ‘DEEEP REGRET’
Supporters of the Anglican Communion Covenant have expressed their deep regret at the decision by the majority of Church of England Dioceses not to support the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant. Although in total more people in Diocesan Synods voted for the Covenant than against it, the rules required a majority of both clergy and laity in favour in each Diocese in order for it to go through. The decisions means that the Covenant has now been officially rejected by the Church of England, and will not be going forward for ratification by the General Synod later in the year.
Prudence Dailey, a member of General Synod and co-founder of the ‘Yes to the Covenant’ campaign, said: ‘I deeply regret what I believe to be a profoundly mistaken decision, especially when the General Synod had previously given the Covenant such overwhelming support. Many in the worldwide Anglican Communion were pinning their hopes on the Covenant as the only way forward, and I cannot help wondering what they—and especially those Provinces that have already ratified the Covenant—will make of us in the Church of England’.
She indicated that she hoped those dioceses yet to vote would still take the voting seriously to enable the mind of the whole Church of England to be reflected, and that many of them would vote in favour. Although this would not affect the outcome, it would be symbolically significant, she explained.
‘At the same time’, she said, ‘it is now necessary to look forwards rather than back. Many Provinces have already ratified the Covenant, and others may well do so; and its provisions will remain in force for those who have signed up to it. The new Archbishop of Canterbury has now potentially been left with an even more difficult and challenging task than his predecessor, but I hope and pray that a way can still be found to keep Anglicans together in a meaningful and coherent sense’. It remained to be seen whether or not it would still be possible for the Church of England to remain in any sense at the heart of the Anglican Communion, she added.
Andrew Brown has written at Cif belief about The Anglican schism. The international Anglican communion was always a rather ridiculous notion, but liberals may not like what replaces it
Historians know it is difficult to date a schism, just as it’s difficult to point to the precise row when a marriage breaks down. But in his article for the Guardian, Diarmaid MacCulloch might, I think, have pointed out that the end of the covenant also marks the end of the Anglican communion, which was always a slightly ridiculous conception, and more of an idea than an administrative reality. I still think that the single most perfectly comic line that George Carey ever delivered in his previous role as archbishop of Canterbury, was his statement to the UN general assembly that “The Anglican communion, with 80m members, is well placed to be a major player”.
Carey’s grandiosity can be put in proportion by remembering that 30 million of the Anglicans he purported to lead when he said that, were in England, most of them quite unaware of his existence.
But that doesn’t mean the communion was nothing but a comedy act, nor that its end is an entirely good thing. Christians ought to be able to agree without discipline, and for many years it appeared that the Anglican communion might offer a model for how they could do so across huge cultural and national boundaries. What, after all, did the church in New Zealand have in common with that in Nigeria, except for the accident that both descended from British colonies? For nearly 150 years, the idea of the Anglican communion seemed to supply some kind of answer: they cared about each other, and cared to some extent for each other. Once every ten years, their bishops would come to Canterbury to demonstrate this, at a shindig called the Lambeth conference…
The Anglican Communion Institute has published The Communion After Williams.
…Given the current state of the Instruments of Communion – Canterbury, Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the ACC – it is likely that many African and Asian churches will simply choose not to participate in these councils and relationships. The Covenant, precisely in its likely rejection by the Church of England and other Western churches, can now provide an alternative means of Anglican witness for non-Western churches that is nonetheless able to maintain its links with ongoing Communion structures. Saying “No” to the Covenant is something the Covenant itself acknowledges as possible, and churches like England’s are exercising that choice. But no one can say “No” in such a way as to co-opt the choice of others to say “Yes”, and it is for those who embrace the Covenant now to chart its common usefulness, which remains one of rich possibility. In general, the key to the Covenant’s dynamic adaptation to the needs of its adopting members lies in the fact that its ongoing shape and application is under the exclusive governance of those who have adopted it. And key to its potential unifying role in the future are its origins, content, and intrinsic interest in the older structures and membership of the Communion itself.
Three elements now place a wedge between any future covenanting Anglican churches and not only the Church of England, but the current Instruments of Communion themselves. First, the Covenant itself grants a functional role to the Archbishop of Canterbury within the Instruments of Communion (3.1.4); second, after its recent legal reorganization, the ACC is now an English company, whose membership for purposes of English law is the Standing Committee, of which the Archbishop of Canterbury is an ex officio member; third, Paragraph 4.2.8 of the Covenant limits participation in the Instruments for purposes of the Covenant to “those members of the Instruments of Communion who are representatives of those churches who have adopted the Covenant, or who are still in the process of adoption.” It is difficult to see, then, how the current Instruments can function for the Covenant, without the Church of England, in the absence of substantial clarification of the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury as a “representative” of the Church of England. The problem with the current Instruments is only magnified by the near certainty that other western churches, who collectively exercise disproportionate influence over the Instruments, will refuse the Covenant as well.
Fortunately, the Covenant already lays out the procedural means for resolving these difficulties through its amendment provision. Paragraph 4.4.2 provides that any “covenanting Church” (or Instrument) can propose an amendment, which will take effect when ratified by three quarters of the covenanting Churches. A proposed amendment is to be submitted “through” the Standing Committee, which solicits advice and makes recommendations; but the Standing Committee’s role is mandatory not discretionary. It has no discretion to refrain from sending the proposal to the covenanting Churches for ratification. If for any reason the Standing Committee failed to send the proposed amendment out as required in dereliction of its duty, the covenanting Churches could simply deem that procedural step waived. And it must be emphasized that neither the Instruments nor the non-covenanting Churches have any ability either to amend the Covenant or to interfere in the decision of the covenanting Churches to amend. The Covenant now lies outside their control. The Covenant offers a way out of the impasse Williams’ resignation has now exposed. And it does so in a fashion that is continuous with the Communion’s own movement and spirit of counsel – it is, in other words, ecclesially legitimate…