Monday, 4 February 2008

Covenant: Square One

So to the latest via Ruth Gledhill...

The Draft Covenant has been updated. We now have the St. Andrew's Draft after a meeting at the headquarters of the Anglican Communion Office in London where the Covenant Design Group met last week (the previous one that annoyed so many Churches was called the Nassau Draft). This will be revealed very shortly, but the Covenant will now be significantly different, so that there can be disciplining AND respect for autonomy.

A magic formula has, we are told, apparently been found for autonomy and disciplining! We are going to see this divisive square circled then. So how is the rabbit being pulled out of the hat, to have it both ways?

Individual provinces will be able to do what they believe is right.

Furthermore, the Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Rev Drexel Gomez (processing the Covenant process), has indicated that The Episcopal Church will not be disciplined nor excluded from the Anglican Communion as a result of consecrating Gene Robinson.

Right. How does this softer, nicer, Covenant solve anything? Where is the disciplining element?

This is having it one way, not both ways. It may be the better way, but it is one way. How on earth does any of this relate to the Advent Letter and those twenty evangelical bishops saying to some African Churches likely to boycott Lambeth 2008, "Please have your bishops turn up so we can all get it going our way."?

Rather the need now is for healing and coming together. Yes, but on what basis, Mr Gomez?

If the Church signs up to the Covenant it is binding itself to live in a certain way as a member of the Anglican family.

So it is a sort of sign first - yet churches can do what they believe is right. So it looks like a voluntary agreement (for reasons of autonomy) that could be easily broken, or defined in advance in a thousand ways.

I'm eager to find out the content.

If anyone can sign, whither all the noise about homosexual relationships not acceptable in the Bible and all that against blessings and gay people in the ministry? If there is moral authority and prior agreement not to do naughty things, then it does not respect autonomy.

Churches will do what is right!

The Covenant is now turning into a figleaf. It is either unacceptable or useless but not both.

Archbishop Gomez said he opposed the idea of the Church breaking into a more federal structure.

This is where he is making his mistake.

Presumably the Global South had better decide whether it will join with the GAFCON group that has been roughing up some of its key people recently, or whether it had better just put up with some Anglican Churches believing in being non-discriminatory regarding all stable pair relationships and ministry.

Open Evangelicals had better decide whether to join the Conservative Evangelicals, despite becoming bitter about each other, or whether to join the liberals and inclusivity.

Square one then.

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