Monday 14 January 2008

When Saddened Means No

Never mind Aotearoa New Zealand, the Scottish Episcopalians may save the Anglican communion from its Covenant madness:

We are saddened by the conflicts in recent years which have given rise to the Windsor Report, and to the consequent preparation of the Draft Covenant;

After all, this is all the Covenant is for, and not something to be entered into at times of internal peace. So what can it do? Plus in its dogmatic enterprise:

The discussion of the foundations which are traditionally held to undergird Anglicanism omits to mention reason, which has long been thought to stand alongside scripture and tradition.

As it stands this Draft Covenant cannot do the job it intends:

the expressions such as ‘common mind’, ‘matters of essential concern’, and ‘common standards of faith’, all require significant further definition before they can bear the weight being placed upon them in the context of this Covenant. We are led to wonder whether the wording of section 6 of the Draft Covenant is fit for purpose in any practical circumstance in which it is likely to be called upon.

Once again the method of centralisation is being challenged:

We question whether the Primates’ meeting is the Instrument of Unity best suited to the task being entrusted to it (rather than the ACC, which contains a more wide-ranging representation of Church members)

The document rides roughshod over the nature of Anglicanism as it has evolved:

we are concerned that the production of any document of this type may fail to do justice to the rich pluriformity which exists within our Communion.

Once again the whole enterprise is questioned. It is:

regrettable that any formal document should be required for the continuation of relationships within our Communion, rather than the mutual bonds of understanding, trust, and respect which have hitherto underpinned Anglicanism, if such a document is felt to be necessary, within our own tradition in Scotland the term ‘concordat’ has been preferred to ‘covenant’ (the latter word having painful resonances in our context that would not be present in others'). A concordat, or bond of union...

Just like Aotearoa New Zealand, the word Covenant itself is inappropriate. Just like Aotearoa New Zealand, we might be thankful to the Scots for telling the Archbishop of Canterbury that requiring bishops to say Yes to the Covenant before they even turn up at Lambeth 2008 is to ignore sensitivities and even the nature of pluriform Anglicanism. Leave that approach to GAFCON.

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