Mark Harris, amongst others, comments on the self-authorised action of the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion in demoting Bishop Tito Zavala of the Southern Cone from his place on the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO).
He comments, in particular, of the weasel words 'gracious restraint' and the use of 'request' to mean command. When those with power use language in this way something more than ordinary Anglican circumlocution is going on. It is the use of language to attempt to shape reality, to create a obfuscatory cloud which gloves force in sweeter terms, and it pervades the thinking which informs the Covenant.
But there is another important point. Bishop Tito Zavala is not (nominally, in any case) being demoted because of the intrusion of the Southern Cone into the jurisdiction of its northern neighbours. He is being demoted because the Secretary General has not had an answer to his letter. In other words the punishment for a substantive offence (e.g. consecrating a partnered lesbian) is identical to procedural offences.
What this reveals is the poverty of the Secretary General's toolbox. All he can do is to demote or sack. He has no mechanism for constructive engagement, nor for graduated punitive responses. All he can do is to threaten and, if the Province fails to be impressed, he excludes. There is nothing here for building up the Communion.
Thus the Covenant. The one element of constructive engagement is the requirement to seek agreement (twice - 3.2.4, 4.2.4), which is all very well but things have presumably only got into the hands of the Standing Committee because the parties can't agree. After that the only options are exclusion or steps on the way to exclusion. Utterly negative.
High time we started a different discussion: how can we build a truly international, diverse, cantankerous and holy communion in which its differences are strengths, not occasions for pushing people out of the boat. See previous post.