The Province of South East Asia recently gave a positive response to the Anglican Covenant in the form of a Letter of Accession. By this letter they are presumed to have done what was asked: They have adopted the covenant. The Anglican Communion News Service, the voice of the head office, so stated:
"The Church of the Province of South East Asia has adopted the Anglican Communion Covenant saying that "In acceding to the Anglican Communion Covenant, we (Diocese or Province) are seeking with other Covenanting Provinces and Dioceses to express our communion with the Triune God and with one another, to guard the boundary-markers of the good deposit of the faith once for all delivered, and to be faithful witnesses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the fellowship we have with God and one another, and in common mission and ministry to the world."
There has been some thought that in acceding they did not do what was asked for, adopt. This note from the ACNS should put that to rest. They did adopt. (I presume the same will be said of Ireland and its subscribing.)
But here is the caveat from South East Asia:
"Churches that accede to the Anglican Communion Covenant need to subject their common life to the reforming and transforming work of the Holy Spirit, so that the Communion may be built up until all “reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4: 13).
The Anglican Communion should adopt more uniform processes in the election and appointment of bishops, to ensure that such processes are not held hostage to local politics and to parochial understandings of the episcopal office.
17. Given the theological – doctrinal – ecclesiological context that gave rise to the need for the Anglican Communion Covenant (documented above in paras 1-12 and 15-16), and given the present state of our impaired relation with particular office bearers and dioceses in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada (paras 13-14), it becomes clear that our accession to the Anglican Communion Covenant is based on the following understanding:
(a) that those who accede to the Anglican Communion Covenant will unequivocally abide by Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 in its spirit and intent;
(b) that those Provinces and Dioceses whose actions violate Lambeth Resolution 1.10 as well as subsequent Primates Communiqué statements that have placed a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops and the authorization and implementation of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions, are expected to rescind their actions, and bring their public doctrine and practice in line with Lambeth 1.10, before acceding to the Anglican Communion Covenant; and
(c) that Churches that accede to the Anglican Communion Covenant should bear authentic witness to the orthodox faith by an unequivocal commitment to the standards of moral and ethical holiness as set by Biblical norms in all aspects of their communal life. (Mt 19:4-6; Rom 1:21-32; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Gal 5:16-26; Eph 5:3-14; Col 3:5-14; 1 Thess 4:3-12; 2 Tim 3:1-5; Heb 13:1-5; 1 Pet 4:1-11; 2 Pet 2:13-22; Jude v18-21; Rev 18:1-8).
(d) that the Primates Meeting, being responsible for Faith and Order, should be the body to oversee the Anglican Communion Covenant in its implementation (Anglican Communion Covenant Section 3.1.4.IV and South-to-South Encounter, Fourth Trumpet, 21)."
|Why are these bishops so happy?|
Here then is the question, one I suppose has to be directed to the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion:
If the Letter from South East Asia is taken as a "yes" vote for the Covenant and that vote is predicated on the assumptions South East Asia has made, does the Anglican Communion office acceptance of that letter as "adaption" mean that the Anglican Communion Office, the Archbishop of Canterbury or any of the instruments of communion agree to or abide by South East Asias' interpretation of the limitations placed on member churches by the Covenant?
If so, the fat is in the fire.
I see no reading of the tea leaves that has The Episcopal Church recinding the consecrations of Bishops Robinson and Glasspool, the blessing of relationships. I presume the same is true for the Anglican Church of Canada.
South East Asia has produced a litmus test: either TEC rescinds and repents and brings its "public doctrine and practice in line with Lambeth 1.10" or its efforts to adopt the Covenant will be considered null and void.
We need a reading from the Head Office on this one, for if the acceptance of an affirmative vote by TEC or any other Province is contingent on our prior change in practice, then the Covenant is dead. If this is the case then even the best desire to live into what the Covenant might offer is a repudiation of all that we have struggled for in being open to greater inclusion.
If what South East Asia assumes is the way it will be, then the whole deal is off.
So tell us, those who speak for the Instruments of Communion, is South East Asia's letter of accession really a letter of adoption? And must TEC repent and rescind before its own signature can be put to paper in adoption of the Covenant?