Some criticisms of Covenant

The Papers for the forthcoming Church of England General Synod are available online - conveniently displayed by Thinking Anglicans.

They include GS 1716 Anglican Covenant. On first reading the Annex is a surprisingly critical document - and more critical the closer it gets to the heart of the Covenant where it calls for clearer definition of key terms [paras. 38, 40].

Most critically [paras 42-46] it raises constitutional questions.

[42] While it is not the task of the Covenant Design Group to write a constitution for the Anglican Communion, the lack of any articulated understanding of, and reflection on, the inter-relationship of the Instruments is a very serious lacuna and will effect both confidence in and the effectiveness of an Anglican Covenant.

This is based on the premise that the constitution of the Communion needs to be addressed and sorted out separate from the Covenant. I had seen the Covenanteers as effectively writing a new constitution, and had criticised them on that count, but this report sees the constitutional process as separate and that I would be inclined to welcome.

The report makes criticism of the penal processes proposed in the St Andrew's draft but this adds little to criticisms made elsewhere and the Covenant Design Group will be producing an alternative.

Please don't get too excited. The criticisms in this report are not sufficient to sink the idea of a Covenant and the whole report is based on the premise that not only is the Covenant a Good Thing but that the CofE has already committed itself to support this course of action.

The debate at Synod is specificially about the St Andrew's draft. The latest draft of the Covenant will probably have arrived a week or two earlier. I wouldn't be at all suprised if someone weighty in the councils of the church stands up to say how welcome it is that the latest version (on which animadversions will not be allowed) has met many of the criticisms voiced in GS1716.

The report almost says that ratification will include submission to Dioceses. This will be cumbersome, take up to a year, but is ulikely to produce anything other than a bigger endorsement of the Covenant.

More detailed comments will follow with time - and I've not yet read all of GSmisc 910, Colin Podmore's paper on the Governance of the CofE and the Anglican Communion. This deals explicitly with constitutional aspects of the church.


1 comment:

  1. Can't imagine that Venables will be very pleased either.