Last version of the Covenant released

On December 18th a revised version of the Ridley-Cambridge Covenant was sent to Provinces around the world with an accompanying letter (.pdf) from Canon Kearon. There was also a video message from Rowan Williams.

On a very quick read of the critical Section 4 (which the ACC had sent back for reconsideration) the first impressions are that
  • the autonomy of each Province has been reinforced (4.1.3)

  • procedures under the Covenant have become much more generalised and will require more work behind bureaucratic doors for implementation (e.g. 4.1.5 on recognising other Churches which might adopt the Covenant)

  • What used to be the (fairly recently created) Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and Primates Meeting is now referred to as The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion (4.2.2).

  • And the Covenant, by preferring generalisations over the more forensic clarity of earlier the Nassau draft (though this remained inadequate), would give large swathes of discretionary power to this Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.

  • Therefore the ACC is marginalised except as being the electorate for junior members of the SC of the AC.

  • The mealy mouthed phrase 'relational consequences' (4.2.4; 4.2.7) for those who do not conform to the wishes of the SC of the AC seems to imply the instutitionalisation of layers of impaired communion on the route to expulsion.

The Nassau draft proposed a semi-legal process of judgement on a province with the possibility of expulsion as punishment. This version is taking a more traditional Anglican approach. It's giving competing reassurances to everyone; it's retaining a penal process but in broad-brush terms; and, as a consequence, its giving such powers as the Covenant contains to committees and bureaucrats.

Co-ordinating canon law seems to have gone, though I may not have read carefully enough to be sure on that.

I still see no budget.

Over Christmas I'll try to read it again and produce a further and more careful critique but my gut feeling is that because it has become more amorphous it will be all the harder to defeat.

Whether this will persuade the GAFCON crowd to sign up we will have to see.

I'm still backing 3 groupings as the probable outcome: one, centred on the US with Canada, Brazil, Mexico and possibly others; GAFCON provinces; and everyone else who doesn't want to lose the connection to Canterbury. And I predict there will be some overlapping memberberships.

1 comment:

  1. Good analysis. I agree the Covenant will make Anglicanism 'confessional' but importantly, which you note, it will produce at least three variants of Anglican affiliation.

    Ironically, Rowan Williams seems hell-bent on creating the very thing he fears most - schism.