Vote for the Covenant - Tuesday
The Covenant will “make explicit and forceful the loyalty and bonds of affection” (Windsor Report) between Provinces. Order and discipline will be embraced throughout the Communion.
Vote against the Covenant - any day.
No. It won't:
And anyway, ought the Communion step in this direction?
- Section 3 of the Covenant sets out commendable affirmations and commitments which summarise some of the ideals of co-operative work.
- But 'force' and 'discipline' are terms directed at other people (people deemed not to be fully adult moral actors). They don't apply to us. So why would an autonomous Province (the CofE as much as any other) choose to subordinate itself to the will of an obdurate minority and the decisions of a 15-person Committee?
- In essence Section 4 puts a new frame around inter-Provincial politics: those with the biggest clout will continue to dominate international Anglicanism. If anything, the Covenant will only make them stronger. Bonds of affection will be replaced by bonds of realpolitik.
- The Covenant is one step towards the Communion becoming a single body with a central government concerned with the vital areas of doctrine, worship, ethics and church order - a new order of ecclesiastical politics.
And where will it stop? Already questions are being asked which show that those at the centre of the Communion know they cannot just deal with Provinces. To enforce their judgements they must also deal with what happens within Provinces, at least at Diocesan level.
- The Covenant will, in practice, replace bonds of affection by contractual bonds.
- Making these bonds 'forceful' denies the voluntary nature of the Communion and of each Church. Voluntary membership should not imply signing a blank cheque on future decision making.
- Is control, order, discipline, centralisation the best - or even the only - thing we can do as faithful Christians?