Thursday, 9 April 2009

RCD Covenant

I haven't time to comment in any detail on the new Anglican Covenant draft. Suffice for the moment for me to paste in some passages that I see are problematic. My immediate impression is that there has been a shift towards concerns of The Episcopal Church. There is now more emphasis on a Church 'being led by the Holy Spirit' and also on scholarship. Despite this, the same drag factors are in place that undermines these.

Actually I think the most worrying passage is that which has the Lambeth Conference and its all bishops of the communion having a role of guarding the unity of the Communion. In what sense, when every Church is autonomous and governed by its own law? This implies quite some centralised gathering and opportunities for generating a particular statement or three and bypassing Churches.

I made these notes (and should not have) that cut down to pithier content issues and areas of concern, where pressures are created:

Problems/ Issues RCD Covenant:

(1.2.4) [biblical understanding] by the results of rigorous study by lay and ordained scholars.

(1.2.5) expectation that Scripture continues to illuminate and transform the Church and its members, and through them, individuals, cultures and societies.

(1.2.8) discern the fullness of truth into which the Spirit leads us...

(3.1.4) II. their [bishops in Lambeth Conference] ministry of guarding the faith and unity of the Communion

(3.1.4 cont.) Each Instrument may initiate and commend a process of discernment and a direction for the Communion and its Churches.

(3.2.1) [Each Church] to have regard for the common good of the Communion in the exercise of its autonomy ... a readiness to undertake reflection upon their counsels, and to endeavour to accommodate their recommendations. ... respect the constitutional autonomy of all of the Churches of the Anglican Communion

(3.2.3) Some issues, which are perceived as controversial or new when they arise, may well evoke a deeper understanding of the implications of God's revelation to us; others may prove to be distractions or even obstacles ... need to be tested by shared discernment in the life of the Church.

(3.2.4) [Each Church] to seek a shared mind with other Churches ... Each Church will undertake wide consultation with the other Churches of the Anglican Communion and with the Instruments and Commissions of the Communion.

(3.2.5) [Each Church] to act with diligence, care and caution in respect of any action which may provoke controversy

(3.2.6) in situations of conflict, [each Church] to participate in mediated conversations ... to see such processes through.

(3.2.7) [Each Church] to uphold the highest degree of communion possible.

(4.1.1) a readiness [for each Church] to live in an interdependent life, but does not represent submission to any external ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

(4.1.3) Nothing ... deemed to alter any provision of the Constitution and Canons of any Church ... no one Church, nor any agency of the Communion, can exercise control or direction over the internal life of any other covenanted Church.

(4.1.4) adopt this Covenant ... according to its own constitutional procedures

(4.1.5) Adoption of this Covenant does not bring any right of recognition by, or membership of, the Instruments of Communion. [But] adoption of the Covenant by a Church may be accompanied by a formal request to the Instruments for recognition and membership to be acted upon according to each Instrument's procedures.

(4.2.2) ...the meaning of the Covenant ... compatibility to the principles incorporated [then] Joint Standing Committee may make a request to any covenanting Church to defer action

(4.2.3) [sanction] If a Church refuses to defer a controversial action, the Joint Standing Committee may recommend to any Instrument of Communion relational consequences which specify a provisional limitation of participation in, or suspension from, that Instrument

(4.2.4) Joint Standing Committee ... [declare an] action or decision ... "incompatible with the Covenant". [Such] shall not have any force in the Constitution and Canons of any covenanting Church unless or until it is received by the canonical procedures of the Church in question. [why even then?]

(4.2.5) the Joint Standing Committee may make recommendations as to relational consequences to the Churches of the Anglican Communion or to the Instruments of the Communion. ... an action or decision which has been found to be "incompatible with the Covenant" impairs or limits the communion between that Church and the other Churches of the Communion. ... [Yet] It shall be for each Church and each Instrument to determine its own response to such recommendations.

(4.2.7) Participation in the processes ... shall be limited to those members of the Instruments of Communion who are representatives of those churches who have adopted the Covenant

(4.3.1) ... withdrawal [from the Covenant] does not imply an automatic withdrawal from the Instruments or a repudiation of [Church's] Anglican character

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