Monday, November 22, 2010

The Anglican Covenant -- Another Approach

As highly-recommended prior reading, I suggest Jim Naughton’s article on The Lead at the Episcopal Café:

It’s also always worthwhile to check out Thinking Anglicans, which is keeping good track of what’s going on:

So let’s try another approach to the Anglican Covenant. Let’s just sign the damn thing!

Having done so, then let’s send a delegation to show up first thing the next morning for Matins at Lambeth Chapel and present a list of questions to Archbishop Rowan, or Canon Kenneth, or whoever we can find up and about. (Yes, I know that they aren’t really the people to whom this would need to go, but they are closer at hand than the InquiSCACion, and it would serve as notice.)

As a covenanting Church, we would have the right and the duty to raise questions about the compatibility of an action by another covenanting Church with the Covenant. (4.2.3)

(1) The Church of Uganda appears to support, perhaps weakly, perhaps not so weakly, proposals by the Ugandan Government to strengthen criminal liability for consensual adult homosexual activities, even to the point of a capital offense. It is not suggested that the Church of Uganda should legitimize or bless same-sex unions, which Lambeth 1998.I.10.e cannot advise (n.b.), but tolerating without protest the gross violation of human civil rights appears to be contrary to Lambeth 1998.I.10.c&d. Is this compatible with the Covenant?

(2) The Churches of Uganda (as above), Rwanda, and Nigeria appear to endorse and encourage hatefulness and discrimination against persons with homosexual orientation, and a refusal to “listen to their experience.” Does not appeal to Lambeth 1998 I.10.e entail acceptance and compliance with I.10.c&d? Is this compatible with the Covenant?

(3) The Churches of Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, and the Southern Cone of the Americas have been active in fomenting schism within The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. Is this compatible with the Covenant 3.1.2?

(4) The Primates of a number of Churches, including (I believe) Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda have refused to receive Communion at the same Eucharist with Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and Archbishop Hiltz. We understand that the Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean has suggested that Primates may wish to absent themselves from any Primates meeting attended by Bishop Jefferts Schori or Archbishop Hiltz. Is this compatible with the Covenant 3.1.2 and 3.2.6?

(5) The Anglican Church of Australia is apparently tolerating a significant breach of Catholic Order by the Diocese of Sydney, regarding who may be authorized to preside at the Eucharist. Is this compatible with the Covenant 1.1.2 and 1.2.1? (To this the Anglican Church of Australia might well respond, “Sydney is our problem, not yours! We’ll deal with it! Bug off, Yanks!” To which we might well reply, “Point taken. Question withdrawn. Apologies.”)

(6) The Church of England is making a great fool of itself over the issue of admitting women to election/appointment/consecration to the episcopate. It is arguable that there may be some cultures in which Churches of the Anglican Communion minister in which the priesthood or the episcopate would not yet be an appropriate ministry for women. England is not one of them. (Neither is Uruguay, which may represent a related but somewhat different issue.) Is this compatible with the Covenant 2.2.2.d?

(7) Somewhat related to (6): It has been noted that women bishops from other Churches in the Anglican Communion are not permitted to exercise their episcopal ministry in the Church of England. (This has come to be referred to as “carrying your hat in your hand.”) First of all, it is clear that no bishop, priest, or deacon may exercise his or her ministry in another Church (and strictly speaking, even in another Diocese) without the permission of the local ordinary. Specifically, no bishop may exercise episcopal functions (e.g., confirmation and ordination) in another diocese without the specific permission, and at the specific request, of the diocesan bishop. However, in the past this has not been a major problem in the Church of England regarding visiting male bishops. Is this compatible with the Covenant 3.1.2 and 2.2.2.d?

Actually, upon reflection, I don’t think this alternate approach is a very good one. Never mind.

Let’s just deep-six the Covenant instead.

(Are there parts of the Covenant that are okay? Yes, albeit probably superfluous. But Section Four is unacceptable and Section Three has real problems. Tobias Haller suggests that we throw out the Covenant itself and just keep the Introduction, which I think is a promising idea!)

1 comment:

Toby Forward said...

Actually, I think this is a brilliant idea. Evangelicals have tried to destroy the Anglican Communion from within (and seem to be succeeding). Why shouldn't liberal anglicans do the same to the Covenant?