Anglican 'Covenant' Would Shift More Power to Canterbury

Drawn up by a 12-member international team meeting in England, the covenant is the second draft to be proposed; the first draft was released last year and roundly criticized. This draft will be discussed and amended at the Lambeth Conference, a meeting of nearly 600 Anglican bishops, in July. Implementation is likely years away.

While asserting the autonomy of each province, the covenant nonetheless lays out a process through which threats to the “unity of the Communion and the effectiveness or credibility of its mission” may be challenged.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, who heads the Church of England and is recognized by Anglicans as the “first among equals,” would be given the power to make “requests” of national churches based on those challenges. The Most Rev. Rowan Williams is the current Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Anglican Consultative Council, an international body appointed by the 38 provinces, would be the last court of appeals on all disputes. It would have the power to determine if a province has “relinquished the force and meaning” of the covenant, the consequences of which are not specified.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant

18 comments on “Anglican 'Covenant' Would Shift More Power to Canterbury

  1. Br_er Rabbit says:

    “Anglican ‘Covenant’ Would Shift More Power to Canterbury”… while pulling the teeth of the Primates.

    Watch now, how more power becomes shifted from +Cantuar to Kenneth Kearon & Company Ltd. (otherwise known as the Anglican Communion Office). We have already seen signals of that, when +Schofield’s office was declared “vacant” on the ACO-controlled Anglican Communion website. And this in spite of his valid invitation to Lambeth ’08, and the ABC’s averral that nothing would be done about that invitation until the TEC HOB speaks.

    There are two more drafts to come. Watch how each one of them becomes more TEC-friendly and more ACO-centered.

  2. Charley says:

    Of course at present that would make the wolf in charge of the chicken coop, wouldn’t it?

  3. Br_er Rabbit says:

    Yes, Charley, and making the back door of the coop ever more attractive.
    [size=2][color=red][url=]The Rabbit[/url][/color][color=gray].[/color][/size]

  4. Jerod says:

    [blockquote] There are two more drafts to come. Watch how each one of them becomes more TEC-friendly and more ACO-centered. [/blockquote]
    If such is the case, methinks bishops who eschew Lambeth will be partly to blame. This is a crucial time in the life of the Communion, and Covenant is essential for its future. Lambeth is the time to review and respond. Not after the ink dries on the final draft.

  5. BigTex AC says:

    THey might as well get the local Imam involved in the covenant process since it’s just “unavoidable”.

    BigTex AC

  6. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “If such is the case, methinks bishops who eschew Lambeth will be partly to blame.”

    It’s really up to the ComCon bishops to defend their strategy and make it work.

    The FedCon bishops have another strategy entirely.

    It will be no more the FedCon bishops’ fault if the Covenant is a wash, then it was the four Common Cause bishops fault when the remaining 15 “Windsor bishops” failed to produce a minority report at the New Orleans House of Bishops meeting.

  7. robroy says:

    Rowan Williams totally subverted the DeS communique with: 1) his early invitations, 2) his statement that the Sept 30th deadline was no deadline, 3) his involvement of the JSC for the evaluation of the TEc “response.” (Defiance is more accurate.) 4) Clouding the evaluation process by not simply directly questioning the primates or calling a primates meeting.

    Thus, DeS is dead, felled by the hand of Rowan Williams. It was the last best hope to save the Communion. There will not be a repeat.

    Now, the Covenant Design Group rewards Rowan Williams with being the ultimate arbiter of wrongdoing. (And he will never rule the TEc out of bounds.) My question is why did Drexel Gomez allow this? My brother Rabbit is correct. The next versions of the Covenant will be even more toothless.

  8. jamesw says:

    Jerod: I would have to disagree with you. With the utmost of respect of Dr. Radner and Archbishop Gomez, the reality is that neither this Second Draft (2D) Covenant, nor anything similar will ever come into pass in the Anglican Communion unless and until something is first done about TEC. The big provinces of the GS would never accept such a Covenant under such conditions, and TEC would only sign on to a Covenant if forced to. It would be very unlikely that Rowan Williams would push the Covenant knowing that neither the GS nor TEC would sign on.

    Until the TEC situation is dealt with, the Covenant will always and ever only be an academic discussion (although an important discussion). In order for a Covenant to become a reality, a few things would need to happen. One critical thing is that it must be acceptable to at least a majority of the big GS provinces, and probably a significant majority. If a Covenant can’t garner that level of support, it won’t be proposed for adoption. TEC will not be an early signer of a Covenant, rather they will wait till everyone else has signed and then would only sign (if they would sign it at all) as a last resort.

    Well, what would it take for the Covenant to be acceptable to the large GS provinces? Why was the idea of a Covenant first proposed? To prevent a repeat of what happened in 2003. Naturally then, the test for any reasonable person will be to ask “will this covenant do that?” I think that if one examines the 2D Covenant’s provisions, the time line, and the actors involved, one sees that it is very unlikely that, had the 2D Covenant been in place in 2003, there would have been a significantly different outcome. Why not? Because the same fundamental weakness that currently exists and which is exacerbating the problem, remains in the 2D Covenant. That fundamental weakness is Rowan Williams (the Archbishop of Canterbury).

    The Covenant Design Group (CDG) has its hands tied by the Great Ditherer. I don’t think it fair to expect nor is it possible for the CDG to create a Fifth Instrument of Unity in a proposed Covenant. Rather, what needs to happen is for Rowan Williams to demonstrate that the ABC can be effective. Because if Rowan actually DID something about TEC, he would begin to rebuild the credibility of his office. Only with that credibility would the GS provinces agree to a Covenant which establishes the ABC as central to a dispute resolution mechanism. Because under the 2D Covenant, only a strong and credible ABC could have prevented the current crisis from ever happening.

    So it is a much more important strategic objective – if one wants a Covenant to ACTUALLY come to pass and be adopted – to bring pressure to bear on the only person now capable to resolving the crisis of North American Anglicanism (Rowan Williams). Rowan Williams needs to take action to discpline TEC and the ACCanada. That is a necessary precondition to any success with a real Covenant.

    Looking to the Lambeth question then, the primary question should not be “let’s revise the Covenant”, but rather “what action can be taken to make it clear to Rowan Williams that without action on HIS PART, the Communion is irretrievably broken”? Until very recently, I was a proponent of Lambeth attendance by all, but the release of this latest Covenant Draft has led me to change my mind. Boycotting Lambeth will have no serious impact on the third draft of the Covenant, but it will be a major public embarrassment to Rowan Williams. At this point, I am not sure what will get through to Rowan Williams, but since he is English, perhaps a major public embarrassment might be just the ticket.

  9. robroy says:

    JamesW calling for boycott of Lambeth!

    I might suggest another motivator. The Covenant Design Group should refuse further “development” on the Covenant. The players there were hand picked by the great ditherer. This second draft is a move in the completely wrong direction. I am disappointed that certain players signed on to this significant weakening and increased deference given to the one person who holds the most responsibility for the crisis of paralysis of the Communion. No second draft would have been better than this. Ephraim Radner agrees with your assessment that the Covenant will not solve the current crisis but rather deal with crises of the future. So continuation with the Covenant Development (or degeneration) is an idle exercise. So don’t do it.

  10. dwstroudmd+ says:

    The ACO has undercut the ABC and adroitly managed him to ECUSA/TEC’s benefit and the degradation of the Anglican Communion. The behaviours have been consistent over time and in direction. But this draft centralization of the ABC’s power would in fact end in the ACO office rather similarly to PB’s in Beers. And the liberals complain of the desire for centralization. It is a false complaint. The ABC, who has demonstrated quite apart from his handlers his ineptitude in British matters of law, has been throughly aligned with the reappraiser camp and they see their opportunity to continue and institutionalize their curial ACO under the heading of the ABC. Brilliant, actually. Love how they decry centralization and push for it full ahead steam. Rather oligarchically, elistist Marxist-Stalinist of them, but beautifully executed (as will be their opponents in due time, my pretties).

  11. dpeirce says:

    robroy (#9): So, freeze development of the Covenant… then what?

    All (in support of Dr Stroud), notice some things: First, Ms Schori denies Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father; next, abc Williams destroys DeS and the deadline; third, bishop Jones flips from conservative to apologetic; finally, archbishop Gomez flips from a Covenant with teeth to one written in disappearing ink.

    What do you suppose is going on :^>?

    In faith, Dave
    Viva Texas

  12. jamesw says:

    robroy: Heh, I gotta call ’em as I sees ’em. The big rationale given to date by ComCons for Lambeth attendance is to ensure that the orthodox voices are heard in the Covenant drafting derby. It is argued that if the orthodox don’t show up, then there will be a liberal leaning Covenant that will be adopted. Well, what I have come to realize is that there will be no Anglican Covenant accepted which doesn’t pass muster with the big GS Provinces. So, that pretty much addresses the big argument for Lambeth attendance.

    I fear that the ComCons (N.T. Wright, ACI, etc.) are probably attacking the wrong folks (GAFCON) for the apparent failure of Lambeth and the probable breakdown of the Covenant process. I don’t completely agree with the GAFCON folks (and I also believe that there is a lot of TEC’s old sins of American pride, American arrogance, and American individualism and schismaticism that attach to the American FedCon leadership), but I will say that the root cause for the breakdown of Communion discipline is Rowan Williams and his non-action.

    Rowan Williams is undermining the work of N.T. Wright, Dr. Radner, Archbishop Gomez, the ACI, etc., etc. It is Rowan Williams who is constantly pulling the rug out from under them. Yet they continue to defend him.

    Now I am not saying that I agree with Matt Kennedy’s and similar analysis that Rowan Williams has a secret plan to broker in TEC behavior. But I do believe that he is fundamentally incapable of providing the leadership we need at a critical time. I am not saying that Williams is a bad guy, or not smart or any such thing. I am saying that some people are leaders and others seek to avoid conflict at all costs. I believe that Williams falls into the latter category. He won’t do what is needed unless the alternatives will make him even more uncomfortable then doing the thing he actually needs to do.

  13. drummie says:

    Shifting more power to Canterbury hardly matters. As things are now it will be power over nothing but TEC, liberal New Zealand, and the liberal faction of the Church of England. There will be no true Christians left. All of the revisionist by their teaching and pronouncements have denied Christianity, so let Canterbury have all the power over the heretics. One time someone told me the Pope was the antichrist, making me very angry that anyone would say such. Now I have to wonder after his statements amd actions of late, is Rowan?

  14. stevenanderson says:

    Williams’ repeated and current shock at the public (and not just COE, AC, or even just Christian) outrage at him and his various views and statements illustrates his inability to function in his current position. He should listen to the calls for his resignation. Until then, any approach, any effort to salvage even small bits of the now shattered Communion that involve leadership from an ABC is dead on arrival. When all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put it back together again, why pretend that Humpty Dumpty himself can make it happen?

  15. robroy says:

    dpierce (#11) asks, “So, freeze development of the Covenant… then what?”

    How about we dump the 2nd draft and state that until the invitations of the consecrators of Gene Robinson are rescinded, the covenant form will remain in the first draft? That would probably get the ditherer’s attention. (Well, maybe after the current fiasco blows over.)

  16. C. Wingate says:

    14: Stop and listen to yourself for a minute. Do you honestly believe that if Rowan Williams resigns, we are going to get someone better? Personally, I think that the Labour PM will seize the chance to fix the mistake made at RW’s appointment, and replace him with someone who is aggressively liberal. It’s inconceivable that Durham or Rochester would be in the running; I think you’d be lucky to get Ebor, and heaven knows what he or for that matter any of them would do on St. Augustine’s throne. But they certainly won’t pick someone who they think is going to help the orthodox cause; the only reason things aren’t already worse is that they badly misjudged Williams.

  17. dpeirce says:

    Robroy (#15): ++Williams’ best move is to simply ignore you. Face it, he doesn’t NEED to please you about the covenant.

    C Wingate (#16): You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I have to wonder if it would make any real difference either way.

  18. art says:

    One of the keys, to my mind, for opening a way to understand Rowan Williams and the way he operates is provided by Robert W Jenson’s astute review in Pro Ecclesia, XI/3 2002, pp.367-9, of his collection of essays, [i]On Christian Theology[/i] (2000), published (deliberately?) ahead of the new appointment of the ABC.

    Jenson writes: “First. As the essays succeed each other, the bishop’s fear of closure begins to seem far too obsessive to be truly helpful in the life of faith. The confession into which teaching is supposed to lead us begins, after all, “I believe…”, not “I wonder about….” Is it really the chief proper use of dogma and other theology “to keep the essential questions alive”, (p.92) indefinitely to sustain puzzlement? Should dogmas and other theologoumena serve mostly to remind us of the problems they pretend to resolve? God is indeed a mystery, but between honour for the biblical God’s specific mystery and the kind of endless semi-Socratic dialectic Williams often seems to commend, there is, I would have thought, some considerable difference.

    No doubt argument and perplexity are permanent in the church’s thinking, and no doubt this is a good and necessary thing; so that stirring up stagnant conviction must indeed be one task of theology. But, e.g., the phrase just cited, “to keep the essential questions alive”, occurs in an exposition of “the doctrine of Incarnation”, (pp.79-92) and the fathers of Chalcedon and 2nd Constantinople themselves certainly [i]thought[/i] they were [i]settling[/i] certain essential questions, in such fashion that conflict about them should not thereafter legitimately trouble the church.”

    He concludes: “As I write, an Anglican colleague suggests that in these essays Williams is making an [i]apology[/i] for dogma and theology, directed to anti-theological liberals who still dominate the Church of England. And that seems plausible: another name for neo-Protestant theology is “mediating” theology. If my colleague is right, blessings on the bishop. But one must hope he may not – like some of his German predecessors – mediate away the store. Particularly if he is next for Canterbury!”

    So friends; here we have the depths of the ABC’s theological method revealed, together with its political consequences. Is RWJ prescient – or what?! And so do we really want to trust the processes of the Covenant on offer in the Appendix? I do not think so … Not in light of Jenson’s conclusions.