Tuesday 29 April 2008

The Duck is Dead

The Brazilian Bishops have responded to the more moderate St Andrews Draft of the Covenant, and have declared in resounding terms that it is completely unnecessary and even anti-Anglican.

These are some of the killer paragraphs:

However, although acknowledging that commendable effort, we believe that our Communion does not need new instruments of consensus beyond those that historically have been our benchmarks in terms of identity.

We have diligently studied the second draft of the Covenant, known as the St Andrew’s Draft, and despite some new insights shown from the first reactions to the proposal coming from various parts of the Communion, according to our view, the proposition is still problematic.


The Covenant continues to be a mistaken proposal for the resolution of conflicts through the creation of curial instances absolutely alien to our ethos.


Thus, inspired by this liturgical season and aware of the richness of our Communion, we manifest the conviction that the Covenant is not an essential element to maintain or strengthen our Communion; on the contrary, it risks defacing it.

The Lambeth Conference has a task of pursuing the Covenant. The bishops have to sign up to the agenda. There are, supposedly, letters to go to bishops unhappy with this agenda, asking them to consider whether they ought or not to be at the Lambeth Conference, according to what extent they have problems with the agenda.

Church after Church after Church is saying no to this Covenant. Letters should not be going to bishops with problems about the agenda, but to the agenda organisers, and to the likes of Rowan Williams and Tom Wright themselves.

This thing is unravelling very fast. The Covenant is a fruitless and pointless exercise. It will never be allowed to be effective to discipline some Churches; it will only ever be words to add to already existing words (as the Brazilians say).

Rowan Williams surely knows now that his attempt at centralisation, for the Communion to decide discipline as if there is something called 'The Anglican Church' is finished before it has even got going within that Conference. The so called Instruments of Communion delude themselves if they can decide anything, and certainly cannot decide new means to tighten up doctrinal boundaries.

Already the Advent Letter has deluded too many on the Conservative side. They, and Fulcrum types, thought there would be a new dawn of a Communion, an effective worldwide fellowship of identifiable believers, and some centrist Catholics thought there would be an identifiable worldwide Church to present to the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox. Well, there is neither. Anglicanism is a loose association of Churches who have some things in common but which do not stitch up one entity. It is for the Churches themselves, each as each sees fit, to generate its ecumenical relations.

As for GAFCON, let them get on with it. If they can stitch up their own Covenant, some sort of Calvinist type document, then let them get on with it and organise themselves. Then the breath of breadth might return to the rest of Anglicanism after the aberration generated by this current Archbishop of Canterbury, who stretched his wings further than they could properly reach in a repressive direction.

Update (1 May)

This is very good; it did not just take ages to do - by Paul Bagshaw of the Modern Churchpeople's Union and its concern about the Covenant. It is a chart of the Appendix of the St Andrew's Draft showing its possible disciplinary procedure for Anglican Churches should some other Anglican Church or relevant part of the Communion think one Church is falling outside the terms of the Covenant.


Paul Bagshaw said...

Sorry to be the cautious one on this occasion but I'm afraid the Duck is far from Dead. At most it may limp a little.

To say 'Church after Church after Church is saying no to this Covenant' is a bit over the top - unless you have evidence to the contrary.

By my reading only a minority of provinces oppose the Covenant completely. Many have doubts or questions. I don't know what the reaction to the St Andrew's Draft has been at official levels but my guess would be that those who wish to be persuaded will be.

The backing of the Archbishop of Canterbury, its organizational momentum, belief that the lack of an Anglican constitution is a real weakness, and the desire of remaining conservatives to have the power to expel the most liberal, all combine to keep the duck waddling steadily forwards.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Well you could well be right - I just think that a Covenant deemed to be effective won't get through as it upsets too many Churches, and an ineffective one will be pointless. Unless the idea is to have a first division and a second division Communion (rather than isolate one or two Churches) this won't work. The damage by the Covenant's introduction will exceed the damage by stopping it. But, yes, an unproductive, even negatively productive, institutional momentum can still take place if no one knows where to press the button marked Stop.