Why the Anglican Covenant Sucks.

I am still willing to be convinced, but conviction is harder and harder to come by. There are a wide variety of reasons why I dislike the Covenant. Some of those grow from observations made in other venues, see HERE.  Some come from reading really fine commentary. But some come from experience, that integral part of "reason" in the three legged stool of Anglican information. I am informed by reason, and reason itself is informed by experience.

So, in my experience, I was held back from ordination to the Priesthood in Puerto Rico because, as the Bishop told me, members of the Standing Committee didn't know me (I was a missionary recently appointed) and I had long hair and a mustache. I knew too it was because I had been married, divorced, and with the permission of a diocese in the US permitted to remarry and be ordained.  I was, in other words, a gringo hippie of suspect background. 

As a result I had an ordination apart from my class of deacons, but my, what an ordination it was - Haitian choir, Spanish service, save for the ordination portion which was in English to make sure (the bishop said) that I understood what I was taking on.  But I remember I was not ordained with my fellow deacons.

In my experience people who were out of the ordinary (or peculiar as it was want to be said in the South) were routinely set on a more difficult track to ordination, advancement, preferment, etc, than others. It worked if you were black, a woman, gay, a person of color, a person of strange or suspect political views, a chaplain, and on and on. 

Given that, the level of paranoia about the collective wisdom of the Anglican Communion on various matters is understandable.  I am not actually willing to have the slowly and painfully gotten changes in Anglican practice in this Church revoked by wider Anglican disapproval. Remember, in a large part of the Communion women can not be bishops and remarriage for divorced people is not possible unless there is some form of annulment proposed. 

I was in Uganda in 1989 and was taken by a canon of the cathedral in Kampala to tour the ravages of the civil war north of Kampala. We saw stacks of skulls, ruins, buildings in disrepair. He took me to see destruction caused by Ugandans against Ugandans. But what he wanted to know was how it was possible for a divorced person in the US to be married again in the Church. The commentary on sin was not about fratricide, practiced at home, but divorce practiced in the US. I talked about my own case, about marriage that died, about forgiveness and moving on... to no avail. It simply made no sense to him at all. Perhaps he saw the killings there (the subject of the tour) and the ending of marriages here as about the same thing - sin.  But I was aware,  we lived in two worlds. No one made them better or worse. And they are not. But they are two worlds. In his. divorce and fratricide are on the face of it on the same level. In mine, they are not. 

No, experience suggests, as far as I can tell, that we ought to be careful about subjecting our decisions to a collective process of discernment, one involving finding the "mind of the Communion."  So far the "mind of the Communion" has been invoked in reference to Lambeth 1998, resolution 1.10, and that invocation has been backed by various meetings of instruments of the Communion.  But it has never been submitted to the Churches for confirmation, nor should it have been submitted. It was a resolution of a non-binding conference with no legislative powers whatsoever. But there it is - the so called "mind of the communion" one which will operate as a break on any movement that does not meet the approval of all.

I got to thinking about three clowns I have know. One was a clown before he became a priest, the second was a priest who went to clown school. Both these worthies did it the "easy" way. The third was a tragic clown figure in a quite different way. He played out the clown role as a priest and took on the sins of the world (or at least a small part of it). The cost for the first two was years of being on the margins as campus ministers, the payback for the third was the rapid end to his ministry in the Church and a new life in other venues.

What might it have been like for any one of them to have lived into priesthood and then thought of being bishop? (The Anglican Covenant, and for that matter the "instruments of communion" are mostly concerned with bishops.) How would the Anglican Covenant have affected their chances of election, preferment, appointment, etc? 

I took a lead from very clever people who used an online movie maker - "xtranormal.com" to produce clever and useful comments on the Anglican Covenant. You can see some of them here and here. Those are quite creative. Mine is a bit stumbling, but here it is: A video reason why clowns (and maybe many of us)  should see the Anglican Covenant as dangerous. Enjoy, or weep.


  1. Father mark,
    Better late than never. Now we can get on with the real work.

  2. You write clearly and eloquently, Mark, of Anglicans spread across different worlds and how difficult it is to find a common mind of the Communion. Your conclusion, essentially, is any attempt to find theological coherence (i.e. the Covenant) should not proceed.

    There are in fact other conclusions consistent with your survey of the large differences across Anglican worlds:

    (1) The Communion should dissolve forthwith because diversity is greater than the commonality using the term 'Communion' presupposes.

    (2) The Communion should be reformed into like-minded groups of member churches (one or more of which might then be unanimous in agreeing to the Covenant as a binding agreement on their group).

    (3) Anglicans should ask what we do have in common, ask whether we might be able to have more in common (as, for instance, the Roman Catholic church has, though spread more or less across the same worlds as Anglicans), and reshape the Covenant to correspond to an ambitious yet realistic Anglican commonality.

    The word "sucks" is not very kind. I ask again, are you friendly to the Anglican Communion?

  3. Peter...yes, the title is a bit over the top. I am more than friendly, I think. I have spent a considerable part of my life trying to build up relations around the Communion, some not between TEC and other churches, but between other churches. I believe the Anglican Communion is a vital and important way for Christian churches to relate as a worldwide community. On Executive Council I support our church's engagement with the whole Communion.

    The title reflects my dispare / anger with the easy way by which the Covenant slides into being exclusionary and non-supportive.

    As I say at the beginning, I am still open to being convinced. I will be going to General Convention ready to be convinced there as well. But right now it feels indeed as if the Anglican Covenant is about delay of vision or vocation, not support.

  4. Fred... I am getting on with the "real" work. But I am sorry to say I am still open. Not everyone or everything related to the Anglican Covenant comes from the same place. It is not finished.

  5. Mark, I find your "stumbling" cartoon presentation to be wonderful, actually. Would that the church would suffer more clowns, more gladly.

    I find it amusing that the word verification for this comment is "shille", as in "I will not be a shill[e] for any primates..."

  6. With all due respect, Peter, it seems to me that your third option might be facilitated by a common statement focusing on those things we have in common, but doesn't require it. On the other hand, the current Covenant text and the process that produced it, focused as they are not on what we have in common but on how we challenge (and perhaps suppress) our difference, are resulting in your second option, rather than the third.

    As I reflect on my own experience - another experience, if you will, of being out of sync (one of the moments of sadness common among health care chaplains is the question from a well meaning person, "When did you leave the ministry?" as if only the parish was "real" ministry) - we need a lot wider discussion, held at levels below that of the primates and of Lambeth, before we can really be sure that we're agreed on what we have in common.

  7. "Mine is a bit stumbling" -- actually, no, Mark, yours is brilliantly on target.

    I'm sure you've already seen, as have many of your readers, Jim Naughton's post this morning on the Episcopal Cafe/The Lead of a dispatch from Jesse Zink, writing from the diocese of Yola in Nigeria. That's what the Anglican Communion needs to be about.

  8. Many of us would agree that given TEC's new convictions and self-identity, it should not sign a covenant. One commentator recommended that the preamble language be removed ('constituent member'). This is all well and good and also honest.

    The question this poses, however, is what about those dioceses that prefer to stay the course re preamble and the sort of accountable communion life the covenant envisages -- that is, precisely those aspects of the covenant that 'suck' in the view of a member of Executive Council?

    Is the point that everyone will be forced to stay away from he covenant, regardless of their belief that it provides a way to remain Anglican as before, now in the light of manifest breakdown? The point is that people like Mark Harris are free to disagree with this account of communion, and do. What is not resolved is the character of mandating that view for all?

    I gathered that at a recent HOB meeting there was some concern (properly so, in my view) that not every dioceses be forced to include services for SSBs. As sad as it is for some conservatives to contemplate a TEC with 'loose-leaf binder' type BCPs in future, at least a spirit of tolerance of difference was apparently on display.

    Could this also be true for those who wish to covenant at the diocesan level? Or wll all be forced to stay away because TEC at General Convention votes to do so, says Maybe, or otherwise is unwilling to allow the covenant's concern for communion to b embraced, because it speaks of accountability, constraint, a genuine global communion etc -- features that for this Exec Council member 'suck.'


  9. It is a moot point Franklin, the ABC and Company have made it very clear that the Covenant is something that provinces sign up for, not dioceses.

  10. I am glad to hear of your openness to the Covenant, Mark, notwithstanding the use of "sucks" (but, hey, great headlines draw readers to blogs). That openness is an expression of friendliness to the Communion!

    Yes, Marshall, the third option could be pursued in a different way. But that would leave open the question of how the Communion as an organisation, like any organisation, dealt with difference which affected its commonality.

    I guess one way of putting my support of the Covenant across could be to ask at what point an organisation is so loosely organised and so unconcerned about diversity among its members that it ceases to be an organisation!

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  12. Ah, Peter: as the legal dramas often say, this presumes facts not in evidence. Is the Communion "an organization," or even organized?

    Jest aside, I am not convinced that the level of organization established (many of us would say for the first time) in Section 4 of the Covenant text is more than is helpful. The level of organization needs to be driven by mission, and I for one can find points when too much organization impedes mission. To take an example, we have more and more folks (at least in the United States; but I would think this might also obtain in New Zealand) diagnosed with celiac disease, an inability to metabolize wheat gluten. Rome nas made clear that the bread for the Eucharist must be made of wheat; while in most of the Episcopal parishes in which I supply make some provision for members who can't eat wheat. Yet, it seems unlikely that the bread at the Last Supper (whether you follow the Synoptics and see it as a Passover seder, or John, and see it as falling the night before) was made with any other grain. It seems to me that Rome's "organization" inhibits mission in this case. On the other hand, would someone more Biblically literal challenge the Episcopal Church's provisions for celiac disease?

    When does an "organization" cease to be an "organization?" That's a difficult question. At the same time, at least in the American context many of the most successful organizations - both for-profit and not-for-profit - are pursuing efforts to be less centralized, more disseminated in goal setting and decision making. The possibility of too little difference is well worth considering. The respect for diversity that the Covenant claims in the Preamble and in the early sections is seriously undermined in the fourth. Whether that does more harm than good seems a valid - indeed, a critical - question.

  13. Haven't we always said, "I am not a member of any organized religion; I am an Episcopalian"?

  14. "Moot point"? I fear that is wishful thinking. Dioceses in the US have indicated they wish to adopt the covenant. Others have said No way, etc. General Convention will make a determination. If TEC says No, we are not in anything like the same space as now. This would affect the SC and its composition, and ripple in all sorts of ways. The covenant is far more organic in reality and in substance. It bespeaks a way of considering anglicanism. TEC's rejection of it would be clarifying in the best sense of the word.

    So rather than appeal to the ABC's (actually very different) comments on this matter--who is otherwise universally condemned by people like yourself--let the question remain as posed. Why should an autonomous TEC care a fig for what the ABC has (allegedly) said anyway?

    The context of the question was simple: if TEC decides the covenant 'sucks' and does not sign, it will remain the case that those who do sign recognize that within TEC are dioceses of like mind and spirit. Are these dioceses now to be mandated: no covenant life with the communion? Or, as with a bona fide liberalism will diversity obtain?

    The question mirrors one related to SSBs and tolerance.


  15. Marshall--your visions of the communion are fine, but that is all they are. They will not be adopted or rejected. On the table is the covenant and its vision of anglicanism. TEC is free to reject it and likely will (it can do so based on various alternative understandings and yours exists in a long queue). If that happens, the covenant will not grind to a halt. It will live in accordance with its own character and in the light of those who sign it.

    I think it is important to remember what we are talking about. We are not at a moment--as much as many in TEC and elsewhere might like it--of saying, here are twenty proposals, now let's get to work and refine them. The 'Marshall Plan' -- do you like it? Etc.

    Before the Communion is a single document. TEC rejects it, others sign it, and so begin to give it life.

    Of course if NO ONE signs or a very small number do, it will not live. But in its place will not be a coherent referendum on anglican identity but the happy fact of autonomous churches in some erstwhile relationship, as those have sought this fact.

    The covenant is going to be rejected or accepted. Not alternative views. These will emerge as a consequence of rejection, on the part of those who reject. Next summer one can predict that TEC will reject or say Maybe. That will have its ripple effect in terms of whether others adopt or reject.

    My hunch is that TEC will reject on the grounds that the covenant constrains TEC in ways that are canonically improper, but that, in reality, this is simply another way of saying: we have a different view of denominational identity than what has been Communion.


  16. When it gets down to it, you really cannot concede, or maybe even envisage, that the Communion should continue except on your terms, can you Fr Carrell? Presumably the "voluntary" cleansing or purge that you evidently envisage, would include a substantial portion of the NZ church to which you belong? If an excess of "diversity" offends you, and if a communion "reformed into like-minded groups" is what you want, then good luck to you, but quit forever insisting that it is the other fellow who must cave in and play your game or pick up his ball and play elsewhere - all this behind the facade that this is an entirely reasonable suggestion.

    wv, for francophones, singe.

  17. Au contraire, Lapinbizarre, I can conceive of the Communion continuing in a number of ways, some of which are being teased out in comments since I last commented.

    If the Communion were to continue as a Covenanted Communion it would scarcely be my singular vision that dominated: it would mean that a majority of member churches (in my view it requires a very large majority) had signed the Covenant.

    As for my own church: too much diversity here and I would be pleased to see it constrained by the Covenant. Or any other constraint, for that matter.

  18. Hi Marshall,

    Paul Krugman has a great post, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/not-a-does-not-imply-b/ , in which he reminds readers that intermediate positions between extremes are possible.

    Many Anglicans keen on the Covenant do not want a Communion that refuses to assist the gluten-intolerant. We could be a Covenanted Communion without being a mirror image of a Roman Communion.

    Is it possible that some opponents of the Covenant have worked up a state of fear about the Covenant to the point that what they oppose is a myth about the Covenant and its supposed effects, rather than the Covenant itself?

    Well, on this thread, I think I can work out the answer to that question!

  19. Is it possible that some opponents of the Covenant have worked up a state of fear about the Covenant to the point that what they oppose is a myth about the Covenant and its supposed effects, rather than the Covenant itself?

    I suppose it is possible, Peter, but what about the reverse? Is it equally possible that proponents of the Covenant are selling it based on a narrative about the Covenant rather than the Covenant itself?

    For the last six or eight months I have been engaged in a very careful analysis of the Covenant itself, and find little to commend it and much to be very concerned about. The task continues. You can see what I have so far over at my blog.

    On the other side, I have seen little evidence of any analysis of the Covenant that supports it. No argument about how this document, once adopted, will in any way accomplish its putative goals of bringing about unity or improved relations in the Communion. Have I missed something?

  20. Alan

    The answer to both your questions is "Yes".

    What you are missing is the effect on each member church and on the whole Communion of the effect of signing to the Covenant. The effect, that is, of resolving, in writing, to move forward from this day with intention to become more unified and to hold one another accountable for actions which affect negatively the unity of member churches.

    That effect is lost, indeed will never take place if (a) some member churches sign without a corresponding intention of the heart; (b) there is not a significant majority of churches signing-with-matching-good-intention (personally I think we need around 80% or higher take up among the 38 member churches).

    It is reasonable to argue that the Covenant is not needed for the Communion to move forward in its life; also to argue that the present state of the Communion can improve without the Covenant. Whether such arguments are convincing is a question to ask. I am not convinced myself: I think the Communion is deteriorating in its common life, and nothing I have seen from the "no Covenant" side of the argument offers any counter to that deterioration.

  21. Well, Peter, I would ask whether implementing a Covenant which is so vague that we can't know in advance what we are agreeing to, and which contains in it a dispute-settling mechanism that is demonstrably unfair and unjust really constitutes moving forward. It is not just a meaningless piece of paper whose value is in the signing alone.

    As to alternatives, it is fair comment to say that the No Covenant crowd aren't offering any, but that is because they are focused on what is on the table. But part of the pro-covenant narrative is that there are no alternatives. There are alternatives, such as the continuing indaba and the sort of meeting held earlier this year in Tanzania organized by the Canadian Church.

    As to the number of churches needed to sign up to make the Covenant effective, I agree with you. Sadly, the drafters didn't seem to consider that question.

  22. I still await any argument whatsoever from the pro-Covenant side as to why any Covenant is desirable and why this Covenant is a Good Thing based on the text itself. In what ways will it actually address the serious issues facing the Anglican Communion? Can we be reasonably sure that it will have a positive effect? Can we be equally reasonably sure that it won't cause further harm?

    Without such an argument all we are left with are vague and unsupported assertions and the emotional blackmail of equating support for the Covenant with support for the Communion.

  23. Fr. Carroll,

    By your words, the purpose of the proposed Covenant is to “move forward…with the intention to become more unified and to hold one another accountable for actions which affect negatively the unity of member churches.”

    I see nothing in that statement (perhaps omitted?) concerning the life of the communion other than unity. I hope I haven’t misunderstood you when you suggested that too much diversity makes achieving unity too hard a goal to reach.

    I find no requirement for tolerance of any kind in this document, not even to allow legitimate local expression of faith. The proposed Covenant speaks only of unity with “relational consequences” for those who seek the Truth rather than unity. There are limits to tolerance, but not to the love of Christ.

    Perhaps the common life you speak of is found in uniformity. The common life I seek is in the breaking of the bread. All other forms of unity are unreal, or simply unimportant.

    Because you find deterioration, you see only one cure; stop the deterioration. If you are as firmly fixed in this view as your statement suggests, perhaps the proposed Covenant, with its insistence on unity is the only salve that can heal the Anglican Communion. But it is equally possible, that such unity will make us deaf and blind to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

  24. I do not understand why Peter Carrell appears to be trying to convince those who do not want to covenant that they ought to. Perhaps that is not his intention.

    If his intention is to say that covenanting bespeaks a form of Communion that is desirable and deeply biblical, I agree. But that is irrelevant to the question of whether TEC believes that or wants it. I think they don't in both cases.

    Here I think the covenant is serving its purpose. It is helping determine who wishes to embrace this understanding. I don't think TEC will or should. The covenant has no worrying 'cloaking device' that TEC ought to be seeking to identify. It says what it says. TEC does not like it. End of story.

    I agree with him that the covenant's real life will have to do with whether a substantial bloc of anglicans adopt it. Let's face it, TEC is not a 'substantial' bloc of the communion and if does not adopt, the remaining percentage is enormously larger anyway.

    TEC can also then say, well, you can't have any more of our money or influence, and we did not like this idea of communion in Christ anyway. I suspect that is where they will end up and *ought* to end up, given the new understanding (preamble free) they believe bespeaks a new anglicanism.

    My question all along is what kind of liberalism will seek to deny those (in NZ or in NA) who wish to covenant a means to do that? No one is suggesting that anyone is leaving or forming new provinces, only that the covenant is a means of signalling a form of accountability that is genuinely desired, for mission, prayer, and so forth.

    Of course people can say this is not necessary or that those who wish this are wrong. But what about respecting the convictions and prayers of others who do wish this form of Communion?


    I share his

  25. No to the blasted Covenant. From my position in the pew (perhaps a lesser position, according to the Covenant folk?) this is what the Covenant is: a document that enforces the least developed points of view onto the folks with the most developed points of view. This is not a compromise, not an instrument of communion, not an engine of forward movement. It's like what Rome did to Teilhard de Chardin, to those priests who wanted to study Latin, and to Liberation Theology over the past half century--all stupid, damaging, and reprehensible bits of institution-think. It is always terribly dangerous when groups place the identity of the institution above the considerations of human growth, and here I speak both as someone who crossed the Thames and as a Holocaust Scholar (no, I am NOT equating the Covenant with the Nuremburg Laws...just saying that it scares the heck out of me any time I hear any version of "Love It or Leave It"). One of the profound attractions of Canterbury is precisely the fact that the ABC cannot tell me what to think any more than Peter Carrell (however much I might respect his heart and mind for Christ) or Bob Duncan or Henry Orombi can. So, no to the Covenant. No, no, no.

  26. “I am informed by reason, and reason itself is informed by experience.” I take it that your argument rests here. Your argument rests on sand, as does that of many other progressives. Why? It rests on sand because you, and many, many others with you take “experience” as a self-interpreting and firm source of knowledge. The problem is that experience is not self-interpreting. Experience takes its meaning from within language usage and within the forms of life we inhabit. Thus, for example, romantic love is taken by us to be a highly sought after and ennobling experience that points the way to one of life’s greatest goods. In other cultures it is taken as a temporary form of insanity. The experience you have had is the product of a way of understanding the course of life. It’s meaning was programmed into you before you had it. This is true of us all.

    Not that any of this matters! Argument has become not a function of critical reason but of power. Rhetoric long ago triumphed over logic. Hence, your opening salvo that the most significant move in the recent history of Anglicanism can be disadvantaged from the outset by simply saying, “It sucks!


  27. Well, it seems to me that if Archbishop Alka-seltzer and the other Gafconeers hate the Covenant as written, it can't be ALL bad...

    And if we're convinced that our actions are just, and Christian, then we should be willing to accept the consequences of our actions. I say sign the thing (AFTER the C of E does, might never happen, +++Rowan seems to have little influence with the current Government and Parliament will have to sign on after all.)and if they want to toss us out so be it.

    Conservatives are generally willing to stand by their convictions and accept the consequences, why should we do less? (Not that all the schismatics are really conservative).

    I also suspect that by the time all of this is in place, and particularly if the Global South continues to refuse to sign on, a less literalist view will be ascendant. At which time Peter might change his mind about the Covenant.

    To me the important thing is that we not allow this Covenenant to tear the communion apart. There are people counting on TEC to stay active and it seems to me that we should not abandon them just because the current occupant of Lambeth Palace is so distasteful.

  28. Devon--I agree that this is your position and that in consequence adoption would be wrong. Remove the preamble. Declare independence. The covenant will then have done its work.

    What however about dioceses in TEC which believe in, desire, and wish to adopt it, as embodying the very vision of anglicanism assumed by the preamble to the constitution?

    That is, a genuine liberal spirit.


  29. While I find the document depressing and fear that what it may be encouraging is a culture of complaint, relational consequences are already a reality as TEC is de facto out of communion with some other members of the Communion. If, as may well happen, what is de facto becomes de jure, we will be left with the challenge, an exciting one in my view, of building new missional relationships wherever we can.

  30. It could get a bit nit-picking if I reply to each well-mdae point made above in response to some comments here. There are concerns about the Covenant. I get that! The Communion might survive without it; it may stop deteriorating with it: if we all sign up we will never know what would have happened without it; if we do not sign up in a strong majority, we will not know what would have happened if we did.

    But I do wonder if we (here) are reading the same Covenant. Words such as 'autonomy' and 'interdependence' mean the Covenant is offering a delicate balancing act in the life of the Communion between each getting on with its local life and all being willing to be accountable to one another. That is entirely in keeping with the general thrust of Christian unity-in-diversity; it mirrors what happens in many Anglican churches in respect of tension between 'diocesan' and 'provincial or national' dimensions of member churches. (Why is what is good for the one not good for the other?).

    As to being told what to do or think or say. The provisions to hold another church to account only kick in when another church or churches notice something about 'local' life which they believe impinges on 'global' life - the common values and beliefs we espouse as Anglicans. We are not setting up a new Rome via the Covenant; we are attempting to reset the Anglican Communion as a thing in which 'Communion' means we have a common life.

    If we do not reset our life together; if we continue to deteriorate in our relationships together, there is another cure. Just continue. See what happens.

  31. The Central African Provinces are not attempting to impose "local life" on the Communion, Fr Carrell?

  32. I should also add: dioceses that wish to adopt the covenant also want to signal that accountability is a watchword all the way down. Including within TEC.

    The present PB was the Bishop of Nevada who accepted into the priesthood a pedophile. This is not in doubt. The pyschiatric report was sent to the Diocese and it spoke of proclivity to abuse minors.

    Liberal Bishops and parishioners throughout the church are properly outraged and are calling for the PB to account for the decision to accept Bede Parry into the episcopal clergy.

    People can say that accountability at the global level is wrong for all sorts of reasons, but the general notion is hard to avoid when one sees a Bishop of the church allowing this to transpire. Will it take more recent victims to step forward or will accountability take form after all? Will the PB explain her actions in this case or say the matter is referred to lawyers?


  33. As horrible a picture as some have painted, I have no means of verifying the facts, as such I shall go out on a limb and say that until the facts can be verified, it is premature to jump to conclusions Franklin. Since the USA is such a litigious culture, I would not speak publicly about the matter if I were her.

  34. dr.primrose29/6/11 8:39 PM

    It seems to me that, reduced to its essentials, those supporting the covenant do so because they want a hammer to beat others over the head. Those opposing the covenant oppose it either because (a) they don't want their head hammered or (b) they think the covenant doesn't give them a sufficiently big hammer to beat others over the head.

  35. So accountability as a general principle is a good idea. We just don't want it to reach outside the TEC borders to include others, or regarding issues we ourselves do not feel should be scrutinized.

    This is why the Bede Parry case is so instructive (apart from its potential for harm, of course).

    My hunch is that a TEC bishop decided that a RC priest was actually oppressed in a climate of anti-Gay oppression, and that she would 'liberate' him. Give him a second chance.

    The problem is, does accountability have special free zones, where 'progressive thinking' asks for a special way of dealing with things?

    The covenant is an agreement not to carve out special zones, on any issue.

    What we are seeing in this Bede Parry case is the natural extension of a certain way of thinking about the virtues of 'autonomy.' TEC is 'autonomous.' Bede Parry also wanted to be 'autonomous' in respect of the Roman Catholic Church and it sounds like TEC accepted him for precisely this reason.

    Yes indeed we will wait for answers. Why are they not forthcoming already?


  36. "Since the USA is such a litigious culture, I would not speak publicly about the matter if I were her."

    Nonsense. This is the sort of counsel one gives to a guilty person.

    A Bishop of the church who made a decision in respect of a pedophile -- surely she has an answer to give commensurate with the good deployment of the authority given to her by the people of God.

    If lawyers are telling her to stay silent, they have reason to worry about her decision.

    I would not shift the burden onto a vaporous appeal to 'litigiousness.'

    Remember, it is liberals who are calling for an account. Conservatives are for the most part silent; they simply do not trust the system or the leaders in it.


  37. As far as I know, there have been no cases of abuse that occurred after Parry was received into TEC. I had not heard of a psychological opinion, but only that he was honest about at least some of the abuse. The decision to receive him was naive at best, stupid at worst, in my opinion. After the dust settles and all the court decisions have been made regarding his admitted abuse, we may discover that Parry is the rare abuser who stopped. As to the Bp's reasons for receiving him, we might add the recommendation of the congregation he had served as a lay person. Not to defend the decision, but there seems to be a fair amount of animus towards the PB in some of the criticism of the decision.

  38. My problem with the covenant is that it was envisioned by people who are opposed to the acceptance of women and our GLBT brothers and sisters in Christ as full members of the communion. And, for that reason I believe that we should view it as a document that was crafted with an intent to be punitive.

    I honestly do not see that we can sign off on this and maintain our own integrity, which IMHO, is very much worth preserving.

    As a woman, I can not and will not remain a member of a church that believes it's OK to sign on to this. I think we already instinctively know it's wrong otherwise we wouldn't be spending all of this time trying to sort it out.

    And also just MHO. While the Global South may be saying "no" right now, I think they will say "yes" the minute we sign on.

  39. Franklin's attitude here is exemplary of why I find it near to impossible to engage with conservatives at all, may God forgive me my hardened heart.

    Katharine must speak out, no doubt. The glee with which this incident is anticipated as a possible beginning to her downfall and as a anti-"liberal" brickbat is about as unChristian as I've seen things go here.

    I trust Mark. I remember how forgiving Jesus was, is, and wil be. Katharine, TEC, the ACoC, and numerous others are being castigated for walking in His footsteps in the name of orthodox unity.

    May God truly have mercy on our petty little political and unChristlike squabbles here. He must be saddened indeed by what passes as church sometimes.

    In other news 19 children died in Uganda today after being struck by lightening at a school. Many more are hospitalized. Franklin, Peter, and all would you let down the partisan rancor long enough to join me in prayer for all those affected, even though I am an unrepentant gay Episcopal liberal?

  40. Hi Brian,
    I am very happy to join you in prayer and very unhappy to be associated with 'partisan rancour'. Is this what "reason" in Anglican life has come to, that we cannot debate a reasonable proposal such as the Covenant without descriptions such as "partisan rancour" being attached to the debate? (Even worse, a correspondent above talking about people wanting to hammer people on the head).

    You might have noticed that I have said nothing about a matter introduced here in recent comments re a past issue with present day talk. Not every conservative feels the need to join in every issue.

    Might we be civil to one another? I hope so!

  41. I'm afraid, Mr. Carrell, you suffer from guilt by association, and we have also learned how easily civility masks contempt and manipulation and how often the smile hides the poison. It is time liberals and progressives and moderates went our way, and conservatives theirs. That is the only answer.

    I have neither the desire, nor the intention, to belong to a communion in which the authority to decide what is or is not holy and right for us is decided by people who think that homosexuality is a crime punishable by prison or death. It is unthinkable that we have learned so little we would hand power to a small group of bishops and cronies. I suspect I am far from alone in that.

    We are too different in our worldviews to any longer be compatible, so debate is pointless. We will not bow to the vision of the covenant, and you will not tolerate our being part of "your" communion as we are. That's fine. Part amicably and stop wringing hands over who "wins."

    As for those like Franklin, as I've said, if you want a church answerable to some foreign prelate, fine, you're welcome to it, but, you're simply not an Episcopalian.

  42. If The Episcopal Church signs on to the Covenant, I'm out.
    I did not join in 1982 to be part of another Rome, yet another Christian imperium ruled by a curia of bishops, and especially a Calvinist one.
    As a gay man, I refuse to be a part of any organization where I am not a full and equal member, where I must accommodate and submit to those who refuse to recognize my full humanity for reasons that are arbitrary and discredited.
    I refuse to be part of any organization, especially a religious one, that declares that membership in The Family of Humankind comes with qualifications.
    I refuse to be part of any "Christian" organization whose fundamental guiding principle is "God loves those who deserve it."

  43. If Anglicanism becomes a "Rome Lite," then why not just save the subway fare and head down the street to St. Cecilia's? Why not? There wouldn't be any difference, or any that would mean anything to me anymore. Or even better, why not have brunch more often with my husband (soon to be legal here in New York)?

    And besides, here in Williamsburg Brooklyn, within a few blocks from me is The Revolution Church for when I really need that Christian fellowship as well as any number of house churches where I would be fully welcome.

    Until the unlikely event that the Episcopal Church self destructs so our bishops can continue to have tea with the Queen and Archbishop every ten years, I will continue to think of myself as Episcopalian, perhaps the only church in Christendom that says bluntly, "No, we don't have all the answers. No one does. We're trying to find our way through this life in the dark with the sputtering lamp of imperfect faith just like everyone else (whether they admit it or not). Let's travel together."

  44. @Dr Primrose:

    It seems to me that, reduced to its essentials, those supporting the covenant do so because they want a hammer to beat others over the head.

    Actually, much of the support for the Covenant is coming from people who don't think it will accomplish very much at all. I have discussed this elsewhere.

    It seems to me that we have two very different understandings of the Covenant in play. Supporters of the Covenant are doing so on the understanding that it will change little, and that adoption is therefore a safe way of sending a symbolic message of commitment to the Communion. (And they add the bit of emotional blackmail that faliure to adopt the Covenant is tantamount to withdrawing from the Communion.)

    Opponents are concerned about the danger of making commitments to a poorly written, vague document that will be used in an arbitrary and fundamentally unjust process to apply your hammer.

    Simply put, the Covenent that the supporters are supporting is not the Covenant that the opponents are opposing.

  45. Just to be clear, I LOVE the Episcopal Church, and have since I joined it in 1982. Since 2003 with the consecration of Bishop Robinson, and since with the consecration of Bishop Glasspool, and all the grief that the church has taken for both of those actions, that love has only intensified. The whole church has not only taken up my cause, but actually come over to where I live and joined me in the exile and suffering that have always been facts of life for me and people like me. My church shares in the scorn I bear. How could I not love it for that? I hope and pray that this experience will inspire me to go and do likewise for others unjustly scorned and dwelling in exile.

    The whole point of the Covenant is to punish the Episcopal Church for acting on its collective conscience, for doing what it saw was so clearly right and urgent. I can't imagine this church would willingly acquiesce to so transparently punitive a document which would fundamentally alter its nature, and end its uniquely democratic polity based on the conviction that the Holy Spirit dwells in and speaks through ALL of the Church and not just in its designated officers. After suffering so much grief, and prevailing by simply surviving and continuing to grow and evolve, why should this church sign a document which essentially demands its capitulation?

  46. Daniel

    Newspaper reports have stated that the psychiatric report re: Fr Parry was sent to the Diocese of Nevada. We know what the report concluded as it has been quoted widely. It cited 'proclivity to abuse minors.'

    As for glee. Nonsense. At issue is not glee but accountability. Ask any abuse victim. If the then Bp of Nevada is unable to speak publically I agree with those liberals who find this unacceptable.

    The accountability factor is what the covenant agrees is an important feature of our Christian life.


  47. Golly. So many comments. My only contribution to this is not mine at all, but one I espouse. I refer you all to this week's Anglicans Online front page, a story about the periodical "The Church Eclectic".

  48. For starters, Fr Carrell, "we cannot debate a reasonable proposal such as the Covenant without descriptions such as "partisan rancour" being attached to the debate" because pretty well only those - yourself included - who hope that it will function as an exclusionary device, or those who are as yet unaware of its origins and intended purpose, would think of describing it as as "reasonable".

    More than one way of killing a cat, Fr Carrell - your choice appears to be a surfeit of honeyed words.

  49. Franklin,

    Generally, people are judged by what they do. When they are judged by what they are, it’s called prejudice. Would that be something to be held accountable for?

  50. Perhaps Fr. Carrell the rancor that you find so unpleasant is actually passion. So much is at stake for so many of us.

    "Niceness is the enemy of fairness."

  51. Point--you've got me confused with someone else. I don't think TEC should sign the covenant.

    My question is to do with the fate of those in TEC who DO wish to covenant. Are they -- to use your language -- to be judged for who they are?


  52. Newspaper reports have stated that the psychiatric report re: Fr Parry was sent to the Diocese of Nevada.

    Newspapers have printed falsehoods in the past. Beyond this article there is at the moment no other verification that this is true. So I withhold judgement.

    This is the sort of counsel one gives to a guilty person.

    It is actually the counsel that all lawyers give to all of their clients. Your logic is that of one who does not abide by the concept that one is innocent until proven guilty. Franklin, you seem to jump to the conclusion that all that you have read in the press is the true facts of the matter. I hope that should you ever find yourself in a bad predicament that folks hold off on jumping to conclusions based on news reports.

  53. They will ever remain those who wanted to sign the Covenant, Franklin. No more, no less.

    Just as in my province, those of us who did not wish to sign the Covenant remain ever those who did not wish to sign the Covenant, even though my province did sign the Covenant.

  54. Dear Brother David

    The contents of the psychiatric report of 2000 are not in doubt, unless you want to say that lawyers fabricated them (a serious offense) for the purpose of misrepresentation.

    Title IV changes kick in tomorrow.

    See http://accurmudgeon.blogspot.com/


  55. Dear Brother David

    No, I suspect if TEC does not sign the covenant, we will be in new territory. So, e.g., if TEC does not adopt (I suspect the HOD will never allow this) the fact will ripple into the wider Communion and affect the way the provinces think about the covenant. If a preponderance were to adopt, it would be very clear to them who inside TEC wished to be associated with them. Dioceses in TEC like SC, CFL, Dallas, etc already pay very little to support TEC. So we would be getting something like de facto differentiation anyway.

    My question simply had to do with the character of a liberalism that wanted to limit the freedom of its members from doing something they viewed a matter of Christian conviction. TEC does not have to adopt and probably won't. Why would it seek to retrain others who wished to? Especially when these 'others' view TEC according to the preamble and so believe covenanting is preserving the status quo ante.


  56. "Why does the Anglican Covenant suck?"

    It irks because it exposes a false liberalism and makes people make choices.

    TEC does not want to sign/adopt the covenant. It 'sucks' to have to deal with this, especially because it is hard that TEC made a decision to go one route and the vast majority in the communion do not want to join them. And the covenant is a means to make that clear.

    That is what I take away from this long thread.

    Title IV changes kick in tomorrow. This is what got rushed through Gen Conv and is likely to be ignored in several dioceses as unconstitutional.

    But what if the person most caught in its net is the PB herself? The changes require Bishops to self-report instances of canonical negligence, going back ten years.

    How is all this now going to play out?

    Lord have mercy.


  57. Christopher (P.)30/6/11 8:01 PM


    I continue to be bemused by your idea that "liberalism" means "individual choice" or even "anything goes." Never has, never will. To hold up the possibility that individual sub-provincial entities (dioceses, parishes, persons) can sign on to the Covenant is a great piece of political theater; to castigate the wider TEC for a "failure" to offer this choice to elements of its polity for reasons of "justice," is flatly disingenuous. It's not one of the options available, and given what the Anglican Communion is,and who is driving this particular campaign, I very much doubt that it would ever be. It's a red herring, and should be so treated.

  58. Franklin, none of my comments should be construed to be about the accused priest. None of my comments relate directly to him. My comments are about the Presiding Bishop and only about the PB.

  59. This comment has been removed by the author.

  60. What does the Nevada situation have to do with the discussion at hand?

    Perhaps you can ask Fr. Mark to start such a thread, or go to one of the myriad threads discussing that.

    I suspect that it is being used to vent spleen and derail from valid points being made, and would encourage no further engagement - in this place - with what I think we can all agree an atrocious and abhorrent - and entirely un-covenant-related - situation.

  61. Mr. Carrell,

    I suppose my point in all this is about trust.

    We keep being told that the more liberal provinces didn't listen and broke trust, so this covenant is vital. What is overlooked is that those complaining from the conservative side - indeed the Communion itself! - has completely lost our trust. The attempts to estrange property, to separate our dioceses from our national church; the attempts to impede and derail our self-governance; the manipulations, both subtle and overt, of the "instruments" of our leadership and their attempts to subvert our polity; the crude lies that we have attempted to "force" our understanding and decisions on the rest of the communion; the breaking of table fellowship and clumsy subterfuge; the simple fact that the very history, nature and purpose of the AC has been rewritten, then the rewriting denied, has lost our trust - perhaps irrevocably. The covenant may restore your trust, but it completely ignores our concerns, our polity, and our well-being - it ignores everything we've been voicing our concerns about.

    How can we possibly trust such an arrangement, when your conservative groups keep reminding us how "outvoted" we are in the larger communion - how could we possibly submit our spiritual well-being to being voted down by those who neither understand nor care in the slightest about us?

    I seriously doubt you will even understand what I've written here, or even begin to allow that our perceptions might have some validity!

    We simply cannot trust your side. It's as simple as that. Merely making claims that we can are about as convincing as ours have been to your side. You've already told us you don't need us, so why hang on? The only possible reason for clinging to this "togetherness" is to force their view on the other.

    We need not a covenant - but a peaceful, amicable, brotherly parting of the ways. You to the circumcised, us to the Gentile.

  62. There is mistrust, Mark Brunson. I understand it to exist on all sides. It may yet do the Covenant in. If there is no Covenant the Communion may divide. Or we all may decide to carry on, accepting that when we disagree with each other, it does not matter, because each church has the right to decide what it sees fit.

  63. Of course it is related to the covenant. Your comments imply the notion of accountability. That is, you believe that a wider account of the PB's behavior is subject to some kind of review. And this isn't merely a matter of 'I, a blogger, state the self-evident, this is loathsome, etc.'

    No, there are canons, agreed 'rules' in Title IV.

    So too, the covenant is a way to think through what we mean by accountability in a communion os churches. It prevents specious and/or personal reactions of 'ugh, how loathsome' knowing that such reactions are prone to prejudice and such like. Myopia. Hostage to geographical or temporal fortune.

    So a wider purview and review is sought, under God. If Title IV is right in concept, a covenant equally so.

    Then, if the covenant does not appear to be substantively reliable, TEC can refuse it. As it likely will.

    But the notion of accountability cannot be held hostage to whim or individual moral outrage. It must be brought under a wider tent of reflection.


  64. Christopher (P.)1/7/11 10:53 AM


    Yes to accountability. But your analogy breaks down, in that Title IV (or something of its sort) is appropriate within a church, but the Anglican Communion is not a church. The appropriate yardstick is not, in my opinion, a legalistic and potentially punitive one (as seems to be proposed, and which you endorse here), but one which the ABC calls "recognition": do we see this other church as sufficiently expressive of the Christian witness that we accord recognition/validity to its sacraments, predominantly ordination and eucharist? The ABC is right on this. Recognition clearly needs a legal expression, but the Convenant ought not to be an instrument of accountability (the role appropriately found in the churches themselves), but rather of mutual recognition, which is the basis of communion this side of the Second Coming.

  65. CP-- and this is why TEC will decide that the covenant is a rule book instead of a conciliar statement intended to foster review and accountability. It will not sign this.

    In post-modern land, the irony is that Title IV IS a rule book and will likely be ignored, and the covenant is NOT a rule book and will not be adopted by TEC notwithstanding.

    Sadly and tragically, the one thing that would alter the first is a victim coming forward and the PB attached to a suit already in place in criminal court.

    TEC would not use the rule book it has hatched except against certain causes, but secular courts know that law is more like Luther understand it. Hard edged all the way down.

    That said, if the 'rule book' of Title IV is to be effectively prosecuted by the PB and her committees (now named) it may be opening oneself to scrutiny and make for sluggish going.

    The Lead clearly shows that liberals of a certain stripe are not happy about the silence of the PB.

    In sum, the analogy between covenant and Title IV does indeed break down, but I believe for reasons other than pincipled ones alone.


  66. CP--recognisibility is indeed a key logic in covenanting. I agree.

    But it cannot exist without accountability.

    If covenant adopted provinces A-Y say they cannot recognise the christian practice of Z, then the wider recognisibility is forfeit.

    My previous point is only that TEC will not accept a covenant on either terms (accountable or recognisible). It has declared the covenant a 'rule book' and will then likely use Title IV in a rule book sense only spasmodically.

    Hence the question about how the new Title IV will or will not apply in cases like the Bede Parry one. Recall that the changes require Bishops to self-report acts of negligence going back ten years.


  67. Christopher (P.)1/7/11 12:36 PM

    Thanks, Franklin, for the comments. Leaving aside the PB's travails for now, and focusing on the Covenant, two comments come to mind.

    1. Accountability for what? See, it doesn't bother me overly much that A-Y might agree, and Z, not, and so the broader recogizability is impaired. That's the case now, and I don't see the Covenant as changing that. The Christian witness goes on regardless. That is, your basic assumption seems to be that our mission is dependent entirely on the Covenant. I'm a bit more of a pragmatist on these matters! Mutual recognition is not limited to the AC.

    2. It bears repeating that an ex post facto argument is being put forward here. That is, TEC has done something fully within its competence, so now a structure is being proposed to make it "wrong." TEC's accountability (within TEC, that is) on "the gay issue" is fully in place. Lacking the structures of an international church, there is no transgression. I don't see this issue hampering our witness within the U.S.--indeed I see it as enhancing it. So let's focus on what best serves to spread the gospel!

  68. CP--thanks for your note.

    I genuinely agree that TEC ought not to covenant. They acted in what they believed was an advance, a progressive prophetic act.

    Having done this, those who call for eliminating the preamble are quite right. TEC does not want to be a constituent member of a Communion that will not approve of their actions. The covenant is an agreement to demur without broad consent, and that would not be forthcoming.

    I wonder what your view is on refusing dioceses to associate in formal or informal ways with the broad consensus in Communion, esp should the majority of provinces covenant (and TEC does not)?

    What difference would it make? These dioceses give little if nothing to the non-hierarchical TEC system as it is. This would allow the Bishops in said dioceses to tell their people that there is no need to 'break away.' They are discrete bodies and have all the connection to covenanted, or recognisably anglican, bodies as it stands.

    It do wonder if the Title IV system, if it catches up the PB, will also raise specific questions about what autonomy really means. We might have 'every one doing what is right in their own eyes' within TEC itself.


  69. Sir, re the Covenant..... let those who want to sign and are willing to be constrained by the others who sign, go ahead and sign..... and let those who do not accept the right of others in the AC to constrain their actions decline the invitation to sign..... nobody is forcing signature. And, let those who do not sign work together if they want, just as those who sign will, no doubt, work together. Don't see what there is for anyone to be annoyed about.... don't sign if you don't want to.... nobody is forcing anyone to join....and I agre with those who do not want to see TEC bishops sacrifice principles....BO33 and Gene Robinson not being invited to Lambeth 08 but his colleagues going anyway were most unedifying sights.....

  70. Anyone who wants to sign, can, but not as Episcopalians, unless GC approves us to sign on to it, in which case I suspect you'll have a great many fewer Episcopalians to worry about. Most of us came here from another church because we were tired of being held hostage to the mass of bigotry.

    The Covenant is not trustworthy.

    The topic of this thread is NOT why the lack of accountability in Nevada sucks.

    That's what I've got to say. You're accountable to us, too, you know - or do we not count?

  71. I'll end my comments with this:

    I keep hearing from conservatives how we will "run them out of the TEC" if we don't sign this damnable covenant and decide to lockstep with the British closet.

    Ever stop to think that doing those things will drive a lot of other people out, not just from TEC, but from the Church itself? I see sneering condescension about the secularization of the world, but never any accountability for driving people away from God.

    The same people who are outrage when I suggest the RCC or the Orthodox or Baptist or whatever churches, don't mind snarling at us to go and join the MCC - or, as I was once memorably jeered, the "International Church of Queers." (Nice, huh? And that's the ones you stand with).

    Theres a lot more conservative churches than MCC's out there - one might almost think it was the prevailing culture! - but you don't mind driving others as far away as possible, to the edges of the Great Dark itself, as long as you don't have to move down the road a few doors and give up your pew.

    So much for concern about our souls, and your accountability for their nurture.

  72. Mr Brunson..... the AC position has never changed, it was TEC which took unilateral actions despite the ABC begging for patience..... if you want to be part of the AC, then it is not unreasonable that you accept its positions (even if you want to change it....even if you work to change it.... respect is part of being part of an organisation)..... TEC expects the same from minority voices in TEC.... and TEC has seen people leave because they could no longer go with the GC trajectory......... all organisations tend not to have being a 'house divided' as a strategy....for good reasons. You write as if the goalposts are being moved for TEC .... but the AC position has not changed on presenting issues at all.... and the Covenant is coming about largely because of unilateral actions by TEC which went against that position (despite Rowan flying over to beg TEC leaders to play the long game with him.....) - sorry, re-writing history to make yourself the victim doesn't work..... but there is integrity in saying, 'Sorry Rowan, we stand by our actions in 2003 and 2010 and will not be constrained by other Anglicans, so we will not sign and if that has relational consequences, so be it.'

  73. What. Ever.

    No one believes you anymore, and it's why you can NEVER be trusted.

  74. Observer... you have one message, over and over and over... which is for TEC to simply leave the AC behind, etc. and you claim the reason is that by doing so we will be true to our best selves.

    Your fondest hopes are precisely the reason why many of us will not simply go our way. Some of us believe the Anglican Communion is a wonderful expression of Catholic and Reformed traditions in a world-wide community of churches.

    We have no intention of leaving, or of having the criticisms of others simply lead to our moving on. On the other hand we see no reason for the Anglican Communion to be taken over by forces and attitudes that we do not believe are true to the spirit of Anglicanism. So we are here.

    Take your constant repeat to your own blog, please. Give us the URL and if we are interested we will go there.

  75. How odd:

    "I keep hearing from conservatives how we will "run them out of the TEC" if we don't sign this damnable covenant and decide to lockstep with the British closet."

    No, simply leave the deplorable covenant alone and don't adopt it.

    But allow those who wish to do so, to do so.

    That cannot be so hard to understand, though it has now been repeated many times above.

    You are not running anyone out. You don't want to covenant, and so will not adopt it. That is a simple and clear idea.

    Also simple and clear is the idea that others do want to covenant and ought to be allowed to do so.


  76. Fr Harris--of course TEC will not leave the communion behind. It will continue to relate especialy to those of like mind wherever they may be.

    TEC does not want to covenant. The covenant sucks. It is damnable.

    Fine, let those who wish to covenant do so. TEC's deciding not to may actually prove clarifying for the fate of the covenant.


  77. Sir, not sure why you seem to take offence.... is it not being true to yourselves not to covenant if you want to retain the ability to take unilateral actions? I've always said that I respect principled positions (just as I didn't respect BO33 or the ABC scapegoating Gene Robinson but other TEC bishops going along for the jolly anyway). Anyway, I did not intend to offend....on a thread re the covenant, I made a point that nobody has to sign and not signing for principled reasons has integrity....if that is bad behavior, I am sorry!

  78. Peter Carrell:

    [Mistrust] may yet do the Covenant in. If there is no Covenant the Communion may divide. Or we all may decide to carry on, accepting that when we disagree with each other, it does not matter, because each church has the right to decide what it sees fit.

    The Communion will divide because some choose to leave it. Or it will remain together because we all choose to carry on, as you put it. But the demise of teh Covenant will not in and of itself lead to the division of the Communion.

    I would like to see the Covenant put out of our misery, not because of mistrust, but because of the contents of the document. It is a flawed document produced by a flawed process and being sold by a flawed campaign. Let's admit that and kill it off, and then all gather at the next ACC meeting to rejoice together.

  79. ATP--how can TEC not adopting the covenant 'kill it off'?

    Is this another case of TEC xenophobia/autonomania?

    If TEC does not adopt, that says nothing at all about the covenant's viability. Indeed, the majority of the provinces are unwilling to go where TEC has gone. TEC's not adopting might be good news for the covenant's life.

    Sometimes I wonder if people in TEC have any idea how small an entity it is, measured against the length and breadth of the Communion itself.


  80. Franklin,

    First, as a Canadian, I am not a member of TEC. Second, my suggestion is not just that TEC reject the Covenant, but that every Church do so. (It's too late for Mexico and the West Indies, I know.) You are correct to suggest that if only TEC rejects it, that will not kill it off if the rest adopt it, but that's not what I suggested.

    The Covenant should be rejected because it is a flawed and dangerous document, which will (1) do nothing to address the very real divisions in the Communion; (2) potentially harm the Communion by increasing conflict; and (3) continue to distract us all from finding real ways of strengthening relations in the Communion.

  81. But what evidence do you have that provinces are going to follow the lead of TEC? Indeed, if TEC rejects it could accelerate the concern to covenant by others.

    Your comment sounded like all that has to happen is for TEC (and ACoC) to say, let's call this off, and everyone will follow.

    SE Asia has adopted the covenant and stipulated how it functions so far as they are concerned. They have far more friends and allies in the province total than does TEC of ACoC.

    Hence my comment.


  82. Hi Alan,
    The Covenant is a fine document, on which all sorts of good Anglicans have worked to do their best, through successive drafts, to bring a proposal to the table of synods and conventions for acceptance or not. It is quite reasonable in the way it states Anglican doctrine, and, given that we are a Communion with a mixture of structures (ABC, Lambeth, ACC, Standing Committee, Primates), makes a choice about the body which will handle disputes.

    It does ask that we embrace the possibility that we are interdependent as well as autonomous. I have not heard any great objection from those embracing the possibility of greater interdependence.

    You criticise the Covenant harshly. That is you choice to do so. It doesn't cut any particular ice with me.

    If we fail to agree to the Covenant, might the Communion divide? I think the signs are there that it is dividing. We cannot get the Primates or the bishops to all meet together. We have an alternative global conference, GAFCON, planning to meet again. ACNA will be most welcome there, in the embrace of Anglican fellowship, despite TEC's opposition to such recognition of ACNA as a true Anglican church.

    For the Communion to fail to sign the Covenant would be, I suggest, a penultimate non-action in the series of actions and non-actions leading to a formal division.

  83. @Franklin: But I am not suggesting that all the other Provinces follow TEC's lead. I am suggesting thet eevery Church engage in a serious and complete study of the proposed Covenant and the conclude whether it really is a helpful way forward, and whether there is any attendant harm. The Canadian legal analysis is the sort of thing I have in mind.

    If other Churches want to adopt (or reject) the Covenant without actually studying it, then that is there (autonomous) business. I would simply hope that this is not the normal way of doing things. Sadly, it does appear to be widespread.

    @Peter Carrell: I have no doubt the Covenant has been drafted by some very fine people who have truly done their best. As to the results, obviously you and I disagree. I know just enough about the drafting process that I suggest that those very fine people recruited to draft it were put in an impossible position with unrealistic time pressures and inadequate opportunity for serious study and consultation. That they soldiered on speaks highly of their loyalty and dedication.

    The key problem is that this is a document that has been drafted by theologians as though they were drafting a theological consensus document. And many (perhaps you?) are reading it with that assumption. But it is not atheological consensus document. It is a legal document which commits the signatories to a series of commitments which are not clearly defined. And any Church can be subjected to a process to determine whether it has fulfilled its commmitments. And that process, even were it not based as it is on vague criteria, violates the principles of Natural Justice. That is simply the case. It may sound like a harsh criticism, but it is a simple statement of fact. And if that fact does not cause grave concern (as it does apparently for the New Zealand General Synod) then I am worried.

    I have done extensive analysis of the Covenant as a canonist on my blog. If you haven't read it, please do. If you have, and if you have some criticism of my work, I invite it. (Though, in fairness to Mark, probably better over there.)

  84. Obviously no one is assuming that people will adopt a covenant they have not studied. That is a bit patronising, frankly.

    Indeed, some 'study' of the covenant has concluded it is not strong enough...hence the slower urge to adopt by some conservative provinces. TEC not adopting might actually help clarify things for them. Their concern--properly so--is not the covenant as such, but about the latterly devised 'Standing Committee.' Hence the preamble provided by SE Asia.

    Maybe Canada and TEC could lead the way in describing their view of federal, autonomous, anglicanism, and how they would propose to relate to provinces of the Communion which choose to covenant. That is, instead of saying what is wrong with a covenant others will conclude is adoptable, perhaps they could anticipate a wide covenant adoption and then say how they would relate to that reality, outside of the covenant.

    All this talk about rejecting the covenant is fine, and indeed I think that is a honourable way ahead. But to project ones own rejection onto the communion at large is preemptive and a touch arrogant. Let Burundi, Congo, Tanzania, W Africa, Indian Ocean, et al assess the covenant and make their own decisions. TEC has a convention it says is determinative and it meets next summer. Fine. Perhaps by then we will have a clearer picture of where the covenant stands with the wide majority of the Communion.


  85. Hi Alan,
    I will look at your blog.

    It escapes me how 'natural justice' is an issue for a process to which people freely sign up having made a considered decision whether to do so or not. (If I don't want to live under the law system of (say) the USA or North Korea or France, then I should not choose to emigrate there).

    That there is an open-endedness and vagueness to the Covenant is a necessary part of not knowing the future while being an organisation which refuses to institute a law-making parliament.

    But, no member church has to sign. If none sign, we are still left with a situation in which we have no agreed process for resolving disputes, and the likelihood that they will be resolved by churches peeling away from the Communion so we are left with two or more groups of like-minded Anglicans crossing their fingers and hoping they will not find something within their new groups to dispute about!

  86. @Franklin:

    Obviously no one is assuming that people will adopt a covenant they have not studied. That is a bit patronising, frankly.

    Actually, my English friends tell me that this is exactly what is happening in the C of E. Anything like a balanced discussion which includes information on concerns about the Covenant is being generally suppressed or at least discouraged in official spheres. And, yes, that is partonising.

    Consent must be informed.

    @Peter: I welcome your comments.

    My concern with Natural Justice is both the question of intrinsic fairness (or unfairness) of a decision, and the credibility that the decision will have. When the Standing Committee comes to a decision on a matter of concern, whether it is compatible with the Covenant or otherwise, there will be winners and losers - people who agree with the decision and those who disagree. Acceptance of the decision by the latter will depend to a great extent on credibility. If the decision looks arbitrary, it will be les easily accepted. Natural Justice (or the Duty to be Fair, ro Due Process) is essential for any judicial or quasi-judicial process, such as that in the Covenant.

    The opposite of the Rule of Law is the Rule of Men.

    Fairness is a Gospel value, and "transforming unjust structures" is a Mark of Mission. How can we "transofrm unjust structures" by impleneting an unjust structure ourselves? What credibility do we have in that Mark of Mission when we so cavalierly set aside Natural Justice in our own processes?

  87. Please lord let someone find this link. http://myfamilyisalways1st.blogspot.com/ Thank you Jesus

  88. Oh, I am sure they are saying that.
    They are opposed to the covenant.

    Or, is your point to hold up the ACoC as some kind of gold standard of 'studying'?

    Every province will decide their mind as they see fit. That is the beauty of autonomy!

    I worry not one iota about the ability of provinces to make judgements each in their own way. Canada will decide out of its autonomy and other provinces out of theirs.


  89. Hi Alan

    With or without the Covenant there are winners and losers in the Communion as certain decisions are being made.

    I do not see what in the Covenant amounts to an unjust structure. I appreciate that you read it differently.

  90. Franklin,
    "Oh, I am sure they are saying that.
    They are opposed to the covenant."

    You don't need to be opposed to the Covenant to believe that this process acted out in several Diocesan Synods is not fair:

    The Covenant proposal is an agenda item. No supplementary information has been given to the members of Synod.
    The Covenant is introduced by a supporter who speaks for 45 minutes.
    An opponent of the Covenant is then given 10 minute to speak.

    In another Synod, there was no speaker against the Covenant, instead, the pro-Covenant speaker presented the arguments of the anti-Covenant group for 5 minutes before speaking in favour of it for 50.

    I must say, as a member of the CoE I despair that our Synods allow themselves to be manipulated like this.

    Whether you're for or against the Covenant, this is a hugely disrespectul way of treating the process of its adoption.

  91. Erika -- the CofE is not the provinces of the communion, which was the premise of the comment (a covenant will be adopted abroad because people have not studied it, as has the tiny ACoC).

    And with allowance even for that, the emphasis from liberals is on autonomy of provinces. The province in which you live is autonomous and makes its rules accordingly. If they need attention, then attend to them.

    It looks like a relatively thorough process to me.

    As for TEC, it is hard to know what a 'study' might look like. One was commissioned and then The Lead complained and so its report was at last released. Liberals were not of one mind here (Mark Harris and Jim Naughton).

    It appears that 'study' of the covenant in contexts like this have produced sober and helpful conclusions like, 'it sucks.'

    (The polity of the church most likely excellent at 'study' is presbyterian -- which is why it is a church of endless meetings...).


  92. Franklin,
    the Covenant has to be approved by the polity of the CoE just as it has to be approved in any other province.
    Just because the Archbishop of Canterbury comes from the CoE does not give this church any special status regarding the approval process for Anglican Community issues.

    And so we're back to this exchange between you and Alan:

    "Obviously no one is assuming that people will adopt a covenant they have not studied. That is a bit patronising, frankly. "

    "Actually, my English friends tell me that this is exactly what is happening in the C of E. Anything like a balanced discussion which includes information on concerns about the Covenant is being generally suppressed or at least discouraged in official spheres. And, yes, that is partonising."

    All I'm saying is that Alan is right.

  93. Erika -- not sure what this sentence follws from/is meant to clear up:

    "the Covenant has to be approved by the polity of the CoE just as it has to be approved in any other province.
    Just because the Archbishop of Canterbury comes from the CoE does not give this church any special status regarding the approval process for Anglican Community issues."

    1. yes, it must be approved by the polity of the CofE -- which I and others regard as sufficiently competent to study and determine;
    2. who ever said the presence of the ABC conferred a special status? -- my point was exactly that each province has its own autonomous means of study and approval (and so the presence of an ABC is a nebensache and nothing grand).

    You do not judge the process sufficiently 'studious' but others within your own polity think otherwise.

    grace and peace


  94. Franklin,
    "You do not judge the process sufficiently 'studious' but others within your own polity think otherwise."

    That, precisely, was my point.
    I have described how the process happened in some of the Dioceses.
    It is documented fact that the debate happened like that.

    You may judge that process sufficient but in that case, I would very much like you to explain why you believe that.

    To say that those who support the Covenant find the process sufficient says a lot about people being pleased that they're getting their own way.
    It says nothing about the intrinsic fairness of the process itself.

  95. Erika

    The simple fact is this. Someone like Peter Carrell will be inclined to say, 'study the covenant more carefully, and you'll see it isn't what is being made out.'

    Others like yourself will say, 'study the covenant more carefully, and you will see it isn't what is being made out.'

    More study of itself cannot assure anything. The GS has studied the covenant and has concluded that it isn't strong enough.

    You are in an autonomous province. If the process is not fair, see to making it so. That is what it means to accept autonomy at the provincial level: you govern your own affairs. The covenant upholds that and speaks as well then of interdependence.

    The covenant is the document that sets out the autonomy character of the province, which is now being autonomously studied by autonomous provinces...if your process is poorly adminstered, the covenant gives the understanding of why that ought to be rectified by members of your province.

    BTW, I believe it would be nearly impossible to determine how widely your view on insufficiency is shared -- to get an accurate perception would require the same very high levels of concern and attention you likely feel are missing already.

    So we are left with the strongly held view of an individual blogger and those she can rally to her side.


  96. PS--and while we are on the topic of 'insufficiency' in respect of orderly review, the province of TEC has its own serious insufficiences, decried by conservatives and liberals both.

    It is up to our own autonomous province to get its house in order, on this and other troubling developments.

    Every province will have its own story to tell on this matter.


  97. “If there is no Covenant the Communion may divide.”—Fr. Carrell

    Actually, the Communion has already divided.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

  98. You had me at the headline.

  99. It just seems to us, Mr. Carrell, that "some animals are more interdependent than others" (with apologies to Orwell). This covenant has/is being driven by a sort of coalition of those seeking a sort of mini-Roman curia and right-wing interests.

    We cannot allow ourselves to be held hostage to either agenda.

  100. As far as I'm concerned, the Anglican Communion ended when some bishops decided not to share communion with other bishops. Nothing says "you're out of the family!" like leaving the Table and refusing fellowship. You can't have a Communion when no one shares Communion.

    The Communion is over and done. The Anglican Communion ended at Dromantine and Dar Es Salaam.

    I don't think a legal contract is going to bring back a collegiality that doesn't exist anymore.

  101. I can hardly wait to hear what you have to say about the AMiE invasion of England, Mark. Covenant? I think not.

  102. "I don't think a legal contract is going to bring back a collegiality that doesn't exist anymore."

    Oh, there is plenty of ongoing collegiality in the Communion and the covenant could well be the means of seeing to its furtherance.

    Let those who think it 'sucks' simply stay away. No one must adopt, all may.


  103. "Oh, there is plenty of ongoing collegiality in the Communion and the covenant could well be the means of seeing to its furtherance."

    Sure, in GAFCON as they plan a bishops' coup. Giving away the store to the right is not my idea of collegiality. It looks more like capitulation. Conquest is not fellowship.

  104. I'm wondering how many of you reverend sirs demand that members of your own families sign agreements on family governance and on limits to upsetting other relatives before you consider certain cousins, uncles, aunts, and siblings members of the family? How many of you require a certain conformity in matters of belief, opinion, and practice before you consider certain biological relatives to be full members of your families?

  105. The character of collegiality that exists in the Communion when one extracts the unilaterlism of TEC cannot be called 'right wing' except in an echo chamber. What percentage of the Communion collegially agress that how TEC has operated is wrong and anti-Communion? I'd put it at 80%.

    TEC has gotten what it wanted and needs not adopt a covenant to continue to pursue its path.

    What it cannot do is demand that others not covenant or otherwise constrain a collegiality that exists in fact.

    No one must, all may. Perhaps most will.


  106. Smart money should be on the unfolding AMiE incursion wrecking any chance of the Church of England's approving Rowan's Covenant. Thinking Anglicans reports today that the recently retired bishops of Lincoln and Worcester are now patrons of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition.

  107. Since Wise and Holy Men have used the metaphor of "family" to describe the Anglican Communion for decades, I again ask my question.

    How many of you Reverend Sirs demand that members of your own families sign agreements on family governance and on limits to upsetting other relatives before you consider certain cousins, uncles, aunts, and siblings members of the family? How many of you require a certain conformity in matters of belief, opinion, and practice before you consider certain biological relatives to be full members of your families?

    Do you complain that the black sheep in your family are acting unilaterally? And if so, do you punish them or expel them?

    I should point out that I am but a mere pewsitter.

  108. I suspect AMiE will be handled with a great deal more finesse than was exhibited in TECdom. Not least because AMiE has not started off as a rival, detached body (like AMiA or eventually ACNA). The evangelical wing of the CofE is a far more variegated and entrenched reality than any counterpart in TECdom. Hence its inclination to say it is not going anywhere and its belief it can find a way forward within Cof structures -- something not to be tolerated within TECdom.


  109. Franklin,

    Respectfully, the ABC as already opined on "misunderstandings of the precise requirements of English Canon Law."


  110. Suspect or hope, Franklin?

  111. Hi Counterlight, If I were bequeathing my theological library to my extended family I might well ask them to sign a commitment to read and use it, and not to sell it for money to buy pulp novels!

    Your question begs another question: when your Presbyterian cousins, Lutheran uncles, Baptist aunts, etc join your Anglican church, do you expect them to conform to the doctrine and practice of your church, or to maintain the practices and teaching of their upbringing? The question becomes even sharper if those relatives want to be priests in your church, because an additional requirement on them could be to live their ministry according to the canons and constitution of your church.

    For my part, yes, I do expect people belonging to my church to act and teach according to what it professes. By extension I expect the Anglican church to which I belong to act and teach coherently with other Anglican churches around the world.

    Contrary to many commenters here on this thread, I think the Covenant is an excellent means towards that coherency. The arguments for it are good; some arguments against it are quite weak (because used within a member church itself they would be arguments against having canons and constitution ... and very, very few Anglicans in my experience want to mount such arguments); but the best argument against the Covenant is that it turns out no one wants it.

    I for one do not want to predict whether it will secure a majority or not, let alone an overwhelming majority.

  112. POO -- yes, and his handling of this will likely be far more careful than what obtained in TEC. That was my only point.

    The reasons for this are complicated and are also tied up with the personality differences of RDW and the PB in TEC, as well as the difficulty for the latter of operating in a democratic polity (which is now under negotiation).

    See the recent essay by C Podmore ('Two Streams') in Journal for Anglican Studies.


  113. I think the majority of anglicans worldwide approve of the idea of accountability and recognisibility in Communion.

    TEC does not believe this in the same way and/or rejects the covenant's presentation of it.

    Reluctance to adopt elsewhere turns on two issues:
    1) the present SC as a power-move, the creation of an unrepresentive 'fifth instrument'
    2) the covenant is viewed as too conciliar and not sufficiently confessional (Gafcon)

    SE Asia has presented one way of making clear how its adoption is predicated.

    Again, my prediction is that TEC will not adopt. Only at issue is how that is done (canonical technicality; 'the covenant sucks' rejection; we need more time for study, etc).


  114. I've never valued much the idea of Salvation Through Doctrinal Soundness. It is God who saves, and last I checked, He does not expect us to pass a catechism exam as a prerequisite. People will believe what they will believe, even in the most thoroughly policed of churches. No two people will ever believe identically, whether in Rome or Geneva.
    Certainly there are things we profess to believe together. That is what The Creeds are for. I do not see any urgent need to supplement them with a confessional statement or a magisterium, and certainly not one enforced by a curia.

    And then there is that problem of what if something that the Church has taught for generations turns out to be wrong, and manifestly wrong in the light of all evidence, experience, and reason. And not only wrong, but unjust causing real harm both to individual people, and to the Church's own moral authority and credibility.
    I'm not willing to wait 5 centuries for the Church to pardon Galileo. Under the proposed Covenant, we would still be thinking of celestial mechanics in terms of cycles and epicycles just because one province is still listening for the music of Ptolemy's spheres despite using GPS monitors in their cars.

    I commend the Episcopal Church for losing its patience and leading on women's issues and the gay issue (which are just such issues as I have described). If other churches want to follow, or not, it is their business. I don't see these as church-breaking issues. I'm amazed that concern over what two boys or two girls like to do on a Saturday now stands up there with the Doctrine of the Trinity as a core belief of the Christian Faith. The reaction is disproportionate, and makes us all look foolish and hypocritical. We may not care to notice that defenders of traditional sex roles and prohibitions are looking more and more unhinged, but others certainly do.

  115. Counterlight,

    It is entirely within the freedom of any Anglican or Anglican church to argue that all that matters is a minimum of belief, such as represented in the creeds. But to persuade all Anglicans to agree would, I suggest, require some further argument as to why Anglican distinctives were not part of what matters. For some reason, perhaps because we are a bit unhinged, Anglicans around the globe have also required subscription to things not in the creeds, things which distinguish us (say) from Presbyterians, Baptists, and Roman Catholics.

    As for caring or not caring about what people get up to on a Saturday: many Anglicans would choose to take a cue from the teaching of Jesus (if not St Paul also) which does seem to care what people get up to on Saturday or any day of the week. Whether or not sexual ethics is up there with the doctrine of the Trinity, it is and has been important to Christians, even, dare I say it, to Anglicans.

    That means you may have to work harder to convince Anglicans who disagree with you that your view of the comparative unimportance of sexual ethics is true.

  116. Rev. Carrell, we do have one thing in common.
    Both of us in our opposite ways are committed to somehow saving the Anglican faith. You want to save it from encroaching modernity.
    I want to rescue it from walling itself off and becoming another ghettoized cult with nothing credible to say to anyone outside.

    Conservatives see people spoiled by licentiousness.
    Progressives, like me, see a world ruined by greed and aggression. Those two things cause far more misery than the carryings-on of any two people in any bedroom anywhere.

    As a friend of mine who is now a Lutheran pastor always said, the adultery commandment is the most over-legislated of all of the commandments, while those forbidding killing and stealing are the most under-enforced (perhaps because churches historically have done a lot of killing and stealing).

  117. Covenant or no, now that the ABoC has given the green light to border crossing (at least to evangelicals from GAFCON) I see many, many possibilities for evangelism opening up around the globe.

    I can foresee a future where TEC, ACoC, and like-minded, progressive churches plant open churches in oppressive places in Africa, Asia, and the Southern Cone in general.

    What a blessing that will be when people hear that God loves them as they are, that they are welcome to worship together, that love is more powerful than hate, that God is still speaking and our understanding of God grows every day!

    To show that truly in Christ there is no woman nor man, slave nor free, anymore but one great fellowship of humankind that can come together in mutual love and respect to worship God in spirit and in truth!

    I imagine many would be startled to find out that bibliolatry is not the only approach to God and pharisaical law-following was not what Jesus was about.

    Giving people this free choice I wonder how many would gladly join these newly-planted churches? As they have no choice now, are not allowed to listen to nor hear anything outside of the current ultra-rightwing orthodoxy I imagine they will come to life and respond as starving people invited to a feast! That seems to be the greatest fear of those in charge of GAFCON and why they want so badly to suppress the Good News of TEC and ACoC. They know that when people hear they are changed forever.

    AMiE has done a great thing here, showing the way to a new, and better, communion of the people of God. The whitewashed tombs and propounders of the law who stand in the way, not going through the door to salvation nor allowing others to pass will do as they did to Jesus.

    God bless!

    PS Peter, I just heard of another earthquake in NZ. I hope you are safe and unharmed and I will pray for the people of NZ.

  118. Franklin, I would respectfully recall that before ACNA was formed, most of its leaders were members of the Anglican Communion Network, which did initially claim to remain within the Episcopal Church - until it didn't. And, while I will grant that Bishop Jefferts Schori and Bishop Griswold have different personalities, some of these issues (including issues with South Carolina parishes) predate her election; while others didn't arise until after her election, and so leave the question as to how the Episcopal Church would have responded under Bishop Griswold.

    At the same time, it remains to be seen whether the "signing statements" that were part of both Southeast Asia's "accession" to the Covenant, and to Ireland's "subscription" to it, constitute "adoption" as understood in the text of the Covenant.

    Peter, you and I disagree (pretty respectfully, actually) about whether there is benefit in this Covenant. Yes, a certain consistency is needed to maintain some sense of shared identity as Anglican, much less as members of the Anglican Communion. However, we disagree about how much, and on what topics. And, then, just how much defending does that consistency require, and of what form? Does it require formal structures beyond those in place? After all, on recommendation of the Primates, the ACC can already change its membership (and so have "relational consequences"). Do we need a new document for that?

    I would also call your attention to those provincial "signing statements." If each province expresses some sense of participation, but with widely different understandings of the parameters of that participation, just how consistent are we, really? Functionally, there seems to be a wide difference between Southeast Asia "accession" and Ireland's "subscription," particularly with regard to provincial autonomy. If many provinces make such "signing statements," does the draft Covenant accomplish the consistency you would advocate?

  119. Marshall--correction.

    Something like twelve dioceses which once were part of a larger group (Network) chose NOT to move in the ACNA direction. Instead they sought something like what AMiE apparently is seeking: the ability to give oversight to parishes seeking it, with the approval of the Diocesan, outside their own dioceses.

    It looks like AMiE is avoiding the mess that arguably was created by what became ACNA (or AMiA), though in fairness they may feel they have a better chance of getting it then anyone in the latter did in TEC.

    If some measure of differentiation is allowed (TEC says No to covenant but allows dioceses which choose to say Yes), then dioceses will feel they are able to maintain the teaching and practice they believe is Christian and Anglican Communion both. AMiE apparently is seeking the same kind of recognisibility within the CofE.

    It is unclear from what has been said publically whether the ABC may allow or consider seriously what has not been allowed in a TEC bent on Title IV type hierarchical transformation -- a transformation that may also have unintended consequences for those promoting it.


  120. BTW--what does it mean to 'respectfully recall' something? Is there disrespectful recalling?


  121. 'Signing statements' -- are efforts to clarify the character of what is being adopted, as held to be consistent with the covenant's intent.

    My hunch is these will go into the hopper for the adopters to thrash out in the conciliar framework the covenant assumes.

    Some wise head on the liberal side argued that LP ought to respond to them. Not a bad idea. Better than the 'it sucks' approach.


  122. "Instead they sought something like what AMiE apparently is seeking." If you believe for one second, Franklin, that AMiE is seeking in reality that which it pretends to be seeking "apparently", then I have a bridge across the Golden Gate you may be interested on buying.

    At some point Rowan may remember Lear's limerick about "The Young Lady of Riga", but I doubt he'll remember it in time.

  123. Christopher (P.)6/7/11 9:11 PM

    Peter said: "For some reason, perhaps because we are a bit unhinged, Anglicans around the globe have also required subscription to things not in the creeds, things which distinguish us (say) from Presbyterians, Baptists, and Roman Catholics."

    But not TEC. Our Baptismal liturgy requires adherence to one statement of belief, the Apostles' creed, and subscription to a series of promises to live a transformed life, not so contentious in themselves. If you refer to subscription to the 39 Articles, it's not part of being an Anglican in TEC.

  124. Did I say "unhinged?" I meant "repulsive."

  125. Hello

    Counterlight: I am glad we have something in common.

    Brian: That earthquake was miles away from the main islands of NZ, so all well, thank you.

    Marshall: I think we need a new document (like a new wineskin!) BUT if we are going to sign/agree/accede/adopt/whatever inconsistently, I will be the first to agree that the signed/agreed/accedd/adopted/whatevered Covenant will not be the new document we need.

    Christopher (P.): But that Baptised-just-say-the-apostles-creed member will get short shrift from his/her priest when they ask why the local Presbyterian minister cannot fill in when the next vacation occurs, or move a motion that the parish ceases to baptise infants henceforth, or seeks to raise funds to support the papacy. Every organisation has its unwritten rules ... and if the person wished to be ordained some of those unwritten rules would turn out to be written restrictions.

    Being Anglican NEVER means anything goes!

  126. "Being Anglican NEVER means anything goes!"

    Who said that it did? Usury is still sin even though everyone does it.

  127. Again, it seems very selective as to what anything NEVER goes and what anything ALWAYS goes, no matter how completely cut off from reality, decency, compassion or basic sense.


    I'm with Brian - I hope to see a new communion in which we and the ACoC and those who wish to see Christianity embrace Christ, rather than hide in a closet and play little mental gymnastics masquerading as faith, start establishing missions elsewhere.

    The fellowship here has been broken. We cannot trust the conservatives nor the bullying ABC. We have no reason to believe that we can serve Christ and your vision of doctrinal purity.

    You've simply lost our trust, and that's a much bigger issue than you seem to think.

  128. Christopher (P.)7/7/11 7:38 AM


    Thanks for your comments--beginning to see what you mean now.

    And to be just a bit argumentative--actually, if it were the local Lutheran pastor (ELCA), no trouble filling in on a vacation Sunday, as TEC and ELCA are in communion (We've even had a Methodist minister, irregularly, I suppose, lead Eucharist on a vacation Sunday)--the parish's rector has absolute discretion on the administration of the sacraments (although likely the Bishop would be called if he chose no longer to practice infant baptism)--and our parish prays each Sunday for the Pope as well as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, along with the ABC and the Presiding Bishop, precisely because we consider ourselves all part of the same "thing"--not really a church, but certainly "Christianity." (Haven't cracked the non-Chalcedonian nut yet, though!) Some would have no trouble having the parish contribute to Catholic Charities, for example, although I grant you that we would likely not send funds directly to Rome.

    But I see your point, in that churches are embodied in particular forms with necessary rules and regulations. I guess I consider many of those of local and pragmatic importance only, with denominational differences here being increasingly eased through expanding ecumenical agreements that allow for mutual recognition of ministries and sacraments. But that indeed is the nub of the problem within the Communion, is it not? That is, the mutual recognition of ministries and sacraments.

  129. “If you refer to subscription to the 39 Articles, it's not part of being an Anglican in TEC.”—Christopher (P)

    Right on target, Christopher! I’ve explained to Fr. Carrell and other Anglicans down under that the Articles of Religion have never been very popular in the American Church. In the Proposed Prayer Book of 1785, the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England were dismembered and cut down to twenty in number. In the first authorized Prayer Book of 1789 they were left out altogether. The question of their reinstatement proved to be a subject of considerable debate within the American Church.

    Eventually, after much consideration and debate, a modified set of 39 Articles was included in the Prayer Book of 1801. However, as you point out, no one in the American Church—neither clergy nor lay—has even been required to subscribe to the Articles. Today, the Articles have been removed to the “historical documents” section at the end of the Prayer Book of 1979.

    The 39 Articles, whether of 1563 or 1801, are of purely historic interest—as are the 10 Articles of 1536, and the 6 Articles of 1539, the 42 Articles of 1552, the 20 Articles of 1785, etc.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

  130. Well, I am not arguing for the 39A to be 'the' rules and regulations that primarily guide us today. Just trying to make the point that likely in any given Anglican church there are more rules than meet the eye, let alone are announced in a headline statement about how free and flexible we are.

    Yes, of course, there are agreements here and there about recognised ministries of other denominations being translateable into the context of our own member church. But some are definitely not recognised: in how many TEC dioceses would an ACNA priest be welcomed to preside in place of a vacationing rector? I daresay a lay president is not an alternative either.

    We Anglicans are odd ecclesial creatures: there are seasons in our history when we have demonstrated amazing theological breadth and intriguing canonical narrowness simultaneously. I was once present at an ordination conducted by Bishop David Jenkins of Durham (he of questioning if not denying the resurrection fame), every candidate of whom was dressed in exactly the same way (a very low church cassock and surplice, incidentally), no diversity of robing expression permitted by the bishop who permitted himself considerable theological diversity :)

  131. Franklin
    "So we are left with the strongly held view of an individual blogger and those she can rally to her side."

    Actually, we're still left with a demonstrably unfair process that every person, regardless of their politics, should stronly object to.

    Our whole Western sense of politics and of accepting when we find ourselves on the losing side is based on our recognition that the underlying process is fair and that we simply failed to convince people of our view.

    Destroy that basis and you end up with far more problems than a Covenant.

  132. Franklin,

    From where I sit in the pews, the revised Canon IV is long overdue and will allow removal of an offending (as in conduct unbecoming) rector before the parish falls apart as could happen under the "old" Canon IV.

    I understand your well placed concern regarding the authority of bishops and the PB in particular. Until the new Canon IV has caused as much harm as the old Canon IV, I'm prepared to give it a go. After all, they can be changed if abuse should be found.

    A lot of work went into the revised canon and its revision was begun in response to the needs of parishes.

  133. This comment has been removed by the author.

  134. Cassock and surplice is the normal - I believe canonical - dress for the ordination of deacons and priests in the Church of England, Fr Carrell.

    Scans of ordinations in the dioceses of Bristol, Oxford and the traditionally Anglo-Catholic diocese of Blackburn will confirm this.

    ".....no diversity of robing expression permitted by the bishop who permitted himself considerable theological diversity" is a gratuitous slur on Bishop Jenkins.

  135. If not bound by the creeds, why be bound by custom or canons on clerical dress?

  136. Did you actually read what I just posted, Mr Carrell? The knee-jerk response suggests not.

  137. I have never understood why David Jenkins could be so nimble and flexible in his theology and so bound to the letter of the law of the canons, if not to the exactness of custom in the Church of England; nor why that church tolerated his and others (e.g. Cupitt) manner of theological liberality while being so rigid in its laws and their applications.

    Do you understand these things, Lapinbizarre?

  138. I understand that your intention is to slag-off Bishop Jenkins, regardless of the facts, which indicates pretty-clearly where you stand where honest and open discourse is concerned. Do you understand this things, Mr Carrell?

  139. I had no intention of slagging anyone off, let alone the late David Jenkins. You are entitled to come to any judgement you wish about me, Lapinbizarre. I am entitled to disagree with it!

  140. Christopher (P.)8/7/11 1:10 PM

    I had the same inital response as you, Lapin, and then re-read, and saw what Peter was driving at--the apparant discrepancy of upholding the possibility of a diversity of views in one area and being ultra-strict, perhaps, in another. To me it shows that the experience of church is as important as the doctrine of church. In my ultra-conservative parish, for example, where there are only a handful of us liberals, we all of us enjoy, support, and have no controversies to speak of about how we do our very highly structured high-church liturgy.

  141. Except, Peter, that Bishop Jenkins was not being "ultra-strict". Cassock & surplice - as I have demonstrated, with examples, above - are the robes in which deacons and priests are ordained in the Church of England. "Diversity of robing expression" is a red herring - a non-issue.

    My returning to the subject - a subject utterly irrelevant to the topic of this thread - was motivated by Fr Carrell himself. Fr C had no need even to acknowledge that he had been mistaken in blaming Jenkins for the fact that all candidates at the ordination he attended were dressed in what he deems "low church" attire, though it would have been polite of him to do so. Instead, he devoted two short posts to condemning the bishop for being "so bound to the letter of the law of the canons" as to have imposed a uniform low church Protestant dress on the ordinands. This is simply not what happened. It was to this flogging a dead horse so as to flog a dead bishop, rather than his unwillingness to admit to an error of fact, that I objected.

    Be nice if we could just drop the topic. Neither ir nor Bishop Jenkins has anything whatever to do with this thread.

  142. "Be nice if we could just drop the topic"

    My God let's hope so. Whew.


  143. Ms A Solemnis9/7/11 6:56 AM

    Go, and do thou likewise, Franklin.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.