|Lambeth Palace seen from the other side|
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Given the way that the dioceses have voted to date Lambeth Palace has good reason to be concerned and to start making (or, at least, considering) contingency plans. Under these circumstances all kinds of things are talked about though only a few of them will be considered seriously. Of all the available possibilities only one is likely to happen and that will seldom be the thing you first thought of.
With that large caveat two comments from Concerned Anglican are suggestive:
... I hear from reliable sources that, if the English dioceses vote against, there is now discussion in Lambeth of representing the Covenant in an amended form with an 'adjusted' section 4. This whole thing smacks of a magesterium that the Latin Church would be proud of. and
I guess that there is quite likely now a disconnect between the 'top' in Lambeth and the working secretariat. RW is seen as increasingly detached and distant and morale is not good.What I find interesting about the consideration given to re-writing section 4 is that it should be taken seriously in the first place:
- It implies that the Covenant is a creature of the Archbishop of Canterbury who has the political capacity to revise it at will.
- Section 4 is the pivot of the operation of the Covenant. To amend it will risk upskittling the whole implementation process. It would surely have to be re-negotiated throughout the Communion.
- Where would any unilateral revision of the Covenant leave the half-a-dozen provinces who have already signed? (Under §4.1.6 of the Covenant it is already operational for this group.)
- From the beginning the danger of individual provinces passing an amended text has been recognised. It would lead to the irrational and deliciously Anglican result that all provinces agree to Covenant together, but each on their own terms. (In effect, the Provinces of Ireland and South East Asia have tried to do just this by adding a rider or explanation setting out the terms on which they have signed.)
So, for all these reasons, I can't see a re-writing of section 4 eventuating.
But I can see continued thrashing through improbabilities until some possible means of saving face, and possibly the Covenant, is found - though it will be in the face of the majority of English dioceses following the constitution of the Church.
On the other hand there is a long way to go yet. Lambeth Palace will also have looked at the aggregate vote and seen just how close it is. Though I have every hope of the Covenant's defeat, no-one can yet be confident about the outcome.
So it's equally likely that open and behind the scenes pressure is being applied to make sure enough of the remaining dioceses vote in favour. The video (my response) is, I guess, just one aspect. I guess too that the relevant Diocesan Bishops have all had phone calls remaining them (in a polite Anglican manner) of their duty. I expect that has been communicated to Diocesan Secretaries in an entirely non-directive way. I anticipate that reliable place-men and women have been sounded out, reminded of where their loyalty lies (without even hinting at it) and, perhaps, enough of them have been well briefed to speak for the Covenant.
Is that too Machiavellian? I probably haven't come close.