Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Not-So Anglican Covenant

Here is a wonderful reprint from The Lead at Episcopal Cafe. A friend passed it on to me. You can read the whole article here:

For all you non-Episcopalians out there, the Anglican Covenant is supposed to be an agreement that the various world provinces of the Anglican Communion sign on to as a way of governing our common life. Some of us thought a common confession and worship were supposed to be our cohesion, but some others want the ability to punish, those who step out of bounds (which, in their minds, means the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. The reason: our attitudes towards gay people, blessings, and ordinations). Others see it as a way to punish provinces that cross bounds, such as the Nigerian churches accepting American churches as part of their dioceses. Many of us find the whole process repugnant and unAnglican. And now, apparently, the mother church cannot sign on anyway. Read on:

Church of England can't sign Anglican Covenant
Peter Owen of Thinking Anglicans calls our attention to what may be the most overlooked aspect of the current controversy in the Anlgican Communion, namely that Rowan Williams believes that the solution to our problems lies in the development of an Anglican covenant which the Church of England CANNOT LEGALLY SIGN. (excuse the capital letters, but really...)

Note this response from the Secretary General of the Church of England to a written question from a Synod member:

Mr Justin Brett (Oxford) to ask the Secretary General:

Q2. What research has been undertaken to establish the effect of the Church of England’s participation in an Anglican Communion Covenant upon the relationship between the Church of England and the Crown, given the Queen’s position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and the consequent tension between her prerogative and the potential demands of a disciplinary process within the proposed Covenant?

Mr William Fittall to reply as Secretary General:

A. The Church of England response of 19 December 2007 to the initial draft Covenant noted on page 13 that ‘it would be unlawful for the General Synod to delegate its decision making powers to the primates, and that this therefore means that it could not sign up to a Covenant which purported to give the primates of the Communion the ability to give ‘direction’ about the course of action that the Church of England should take.’ The same would be true in relation to delegation to any other body of the Anglican Communion. Since as a matter of law the Church of England could not submit itself to any such external power of direction, any separate possible difficulties in relation to the Royal Prerogative could not in practice arise.

A pattern is beginning to emerge here. The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada must cease blessing same-sex relationships, but the Church of England does not have to because it does so quietly. The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada must relinquish their autonomy and sign on to a covenant that will almost certainly be used to marginalize them, but the Church of England doesn't have to because it is an established church.

The Archbishop of Canterbury continues to demand from the North American churches what he does not ask from his own people. And the peculiar thing is that nobody seems to find this objectionable.

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