Anglican Samizdat

May 5, 2009

Why the Anglican Communion Covenant is not going to work

There may be none left who doubt that, but for those who do, the following is instructive:

Canon Kearon stated that Rev Ashey was not qualified as his membership of the Church of Uganda was as a result of a cross-border intervention by the Church of Uganda in the United States, a practice which had been consistently disapproved of by the instruments of communion since 2004.

So far so clear. However, it was also drawn to Canon Kearon’s attention that another infringement of the requirements of the instruments of communion had been the continuance of the lawsuits against orthodox churches in North America by TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. The cessation of these lawsuits was a requirement of the Dar-es-Salaam Primates Meeting in 2007 as part of the compliance required of TEC and the ACoC with the Windsor Report and thus a condition for the re-entry of TEC and ACoC delegates to the Councils of the Communion ( they had been asked to withdraw from ACC 13 at Nottingham, but attended as visitors). How was it that TEC and ACoC had not complied with a requirement of the instruments of communion, yet had been readmitted, and that Uganda was not complying with the embargo on cross-border jurisdiction and yet its selected delegate was barred? The answer given that Uganda as a province had not been barred, only its delegate who was a product of cross-border intervention.

What comes across in all this is the lack of fairness and even handedness. TEC and ACoC are in constant breach of Lambeth 1.10, and by the secretary general’s own admission at the Saturday press conference, had in some cases continued to authorize same-sex blessings in defiance of the moratorium. They have not complied with the Primates’ call from Dar-es-Salaam to desist from lawsuits, but instead have increased them. Yet they are readmitted to full membership.

The group that is to decide on whether the covenant is to be adopted has made “cross border interventions” the unforgivable transgression in the mess that bedevils the Anglican Communion. The fact that the ACoC and TEC have not lived up to their part of the bargain by stopping the lawsuits and stopping the authorising of same-sex blessings is glossed over: also missing is the acknowledgement that the latter is what caused orthodox parishes to seek shelter in a different province in the first place.

The bias of the Anglican Consultative Council is clear: the ACoC and TEC receive a get out of jail free card.

Considering the duplicitous and slippery nature of both the ACoC and TEC, what is to stop them signing the Covenant while having no intention whatsoever of adhering to it? After all, that is how they have treated the moratoriums: they break them and attempt to conceal the fact by crouching behind meaningless concepts like “experiential discernment”; and the ACC smiles upon them benignly.

Why would we expect anything different with a signed Covenant? The best response we could hope for from the ACC would be a few tut-tuts, and then back to the main business of eco-justice networking, prophetic gender equality and singing appalling hymns.

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