Friday, 13 June 2008

The Scots Know a Thing or Two

Thinking Anglicans focuses on the main change at the Scottish Episcopal Church General Synod:

The main motion (number 3) before synod was

That this Synod affirm an ‘in principle’ commitment to the Covenant process at this time (without committing itself to the details of any text).

This was amended to

That this Synod affirm an ‘in principle’ commitment to continue to participate actively in discussions regarding the future shape of the Anglican Communion at this time (without necessarily committing itself to the concept of a convenant).

The amended motion was carried (65 votes for; 56 against).

What this does is take away the assumption of a Covenant; there is no commitment to it at all now other than a principle about talking about it. An in principle commitment does not even commit to actually talking about something that is not worth talking about. It is very minimal. We know that the Scottish Episcopal Church has slowly acquired a more inclusive and liberal identity over the years. Bishop Richard Holloway was an example: he has become even more liberal since he retired. It has almost an ideological connection, never mind historical one, with The Episcopal Church in the United States. Dougal has told us before about this, and even if he himself finds he is not a liberal he tells us in a liberal way and in a liberal context: and tells us a bit about the character of the Synod including:

Then into the meat of the day - talking about the Anglican Covenant - which was a surprisingly bloodless debate. I did speak, praising the Covenant Design Group for taking on board what had been said last year about turning the Primates meeting into a Curia, but noting my concern that this draft was trying to turn the ABC into a judge and giving him more power. Don't want a Curia, don't want a Pope, I want to stay Anglican! A thought struck me. If Tony Blair wanted a bloke with a beard to run the Anglican Communion, instead of promoting ++Rowan, why didn't he co-opt Billy Connolly? At least he dyes his beard purple! And just think of the Lambeth Conference - Peter Akinola vs The Big Yin! Now there's a fight I'd pay Rupert Murdoch's Sky to watch!

The point is that if Lambeth 2008 takes fright because GAFCON makes demands, then the Covenant Continuation Group might take it upon itself to produce a conservative type document. This is despite (or even because of) the inability of Lambeth 2008 to make resolutions: decisions are taken out of the collective bishops' hands.

Because of its changes, such a Church as the Scottish one will be the keenest to reject such a document, and indeed this would be consistent with all the Anglican Churches of the British Isles except the mixed up English one.

Scotland must be thinking longer term, with at the back of its collective minds a set of 'what ifs' - and what it won't do as well as what it would like to see.

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