Thursday, 23 April 2009

ACI Dents The Episcopal Church

It was this Archbishop of Canterbury who stated that the purpose of a Covenant could be to have two divisions of Anglicans, those who sign and those who do not, making up an inner core and an outer orbit.

It was this Archbishop of Canterbury who stated that the basic unit of the Churches was the bishop in the diocese (14 October 2007), as a means to enhance his office's position and centralisation, but had to backtrack somewhat (23 October 2007) to say that the Churches were as administrative units and common entities of Canon Law.

He has thus given encouragement to the Anglican Communion Partnership bishops (identifying with the Anglican Communion Institute) to state that they and their dioceses can sign the Covenant directly even if The Episcopal Church does not. Their highly contestable central core theoretical point is this:

The Episcopal Church is a federation (or confederation) of independent, or better, autonomous, dioceses.

Said in order not to join a confederation that is the Anglican Communion, as more liberal Covenant-rejecters would want to affirm, but to join a centralising Anglican Communion that moves towards becoming a Church in its own right.

The Archbishop of Canterbury could not say the same about bishops in autonomous dioceses for the Church of England, and it cannot be said for most other Anglican Churches, but it has led to further argument and division within The Episcopal Church where, many contest, it cannot be said about it either.

Apparently the Archbishop has invited himself to General Convention 2009, presumably to cause more division and promote his Covenant. Does he have to be let in? I'd have him having to reconstitute his material self to pass through walls and doors in order to get in.

The previous Archbishop, on his travels around North America to make trouble again, was always someone of low value incompetence, but this Archbishop seems to be deliberately divisive and even destructive, aided by 'close friends' such as Tom Wright (remember the letters that he said were going out to consecrators of Gene Robinson suggesting they search their consciences about not going to Lambeth 2008?).

Let's forget the Noll in the coffin ideas with his open prisoners' dilemma or say a whist game of comparative moves against GAFCON. GAFCON, and its ragbag collection making up the so called Anglican Church of North America, is no reason for or against why The Episcopal Church should or should not sign the Covenant. There is no whist table with players sat around: they can do what they like.

The ideas about Christian application and progress regarding its focus on people in The Episcopal Church are widely shared. They are shared in Canada, of course, another place where division by some is being intensified by outsiders. These ideas and arguments against signing the Covenant are shared in Mexico, Brazil, Scotland, Wales, Hong Kong, within England, within Europe, in most of Australia, in New Zealand, Hong Kong and further afield. It matters to these places what The Episcopal Church does, and if it comes down to having Covenants then the offered Covenant need not be the only document available. It matters to people in Nigeria who would be oppressed by the Anglican Church and the State what The Episcopal Church does.

A Covenant that only represents a part of Anglicanism was always going to lead to a possibility of another document that represents all or another part of Anglicanism. But there is in Anglicanism no need for any Covenant, and certainly no need to sign one, one that wants to formalise central institutions and stress entry conditions for accepting these institutions.

Dioceses in the Church of England will not individually sign or not sign the Covenant, nor in any other Church, nor in The Episcopal Church, but the extra argument and division is in TEC that they may try. The doctrinal basis of The Episcopal Church has not changed, whatever individuals may or may not think, and old arguments about the State and hierarchies, or other Churches abroad and their hierarchies, do not apply to voluntary bodies within the United States - which can be as hierarchical as they like. The pledge by bishops is made to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church, not its dioceses.

No comments: