"This pernicious proposal of a Covenant"

Press Release:

 The Revd. Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch 

LONDON – The Revd Dr Lesley Crawley, Moderator of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition, has announced the appointment of Oxford University Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, DD, as a Patron of the  coalition.

Professor MacCulloch joins the Rt Revd Dr John Saxbee and the Rt Rev Dr Peter Selby, who were appointed last June.

“I’m thrilled that Professor MacCulloch has agreed to accept this appointment,” said Crawley. “As one of the acknowledged experts in the English Reformation, he has a very clear understanding of how the centralization of authority in the proposed Anglican Covenant is at odds with fundamental Anglican ecclesiology.”

“Anglicanism was born in the Reformation’s rejection of an unwarranted and unhistorical over-centralization of ecclesiastical authority,” according to Professor MacCulloch. “This pernicious proposal of a Covenant (an unhappy choice of name if you know anything about our Church’s history) ignores the Anglican Communion’s past, and seeks to gridlock the Anglican present at the cost of a truly Anglican future.”

MacCulloch is Professor of the History of the Church, and Fellow of St Cross College, in the University of Oxford. He is also a Fellow of the British Academy and co-edits the Journal of Ecclesiastical History. He has written several books on Christian history and the English Reformation, including the award winning Thomas Cranmer: A Life and The Reformation: A History. His most recent book, A History of Christianity: the First Three Thousand Years, won the 2011 Cundill Prize. He devised and presented the BBC television series based on that work.

MacCulloch received a knighthood earlier this year for his services to scholarship.


Doll and Covenant

Peter Doll, Canon Librarian at Norwich Cathedral, has written a paper supportive of the Covenant. It can be found here (pdf) and Jonathan Clatworthy has written a response to it.

The Archbishop and his guardian angel?
The paper is too long and too general to have attracted notice in the normal way of things. But,  at the express request of the Archbishop of Canterbury, it has been sent to all Church of England bishops. This is why it needs a response.

Sadly this would reinforce the criticism that the Archbishop has been partisan in acting against TEC and the perception that the Covenant is a significant part of his antagonism.

Nothing new. So I will add a moan I've made several times before. Doll says,

Also, a word of caution. I don’t offer a detailed apologia or critique of the terms of the Covenant. I’m more interested in its overall implications for the way we live out our lives in Christ. 
All too often this seems to be the position of those who want the Communion to adopt the Covenant. Never mind the detail, never mind the actual words, the Covenant is A Good Thing. Vote Now!

But, if the Covenant ever is agreed, it is the actual words, the detail and the way its detail will be interpreted and applied, which will be critical.

So why have those promoting the Covenant not set out this detail? Why have they not engaged with critics who wish to address the detail?

I could speculate that this is a deliberate tactic. Perhaps it is recognised that the consequence of debating the detail will be that voters find all kinds of reasons for saying no or wanting changes. Therefore, if there is to be any chance of getting the Covenant adopted, proponents had better keep their arguments bland and general.

Or, perhaps, avoiding detail reflects an ecclesiology. Perhaps the church is conceived as subsisting in its leadership, with the remainder of its members as mere dependants. In such a church then not only is it unnecessary for leaders inform the rest of the reasoning behind their decisions but, worse still, explanation might an act of condescension that could endanger the concept of hierarchy itself by suggesting that leaders should account to the led. Heaven forfend.

We're all interested in the way we, as faithful Anglican Christians, live out out our lives in Christ. But we don't need a Covenant to control how we do it.

Other comment: Eruptions at the foot of the volcano, Episcopal Cafe, Lionel Deimel, Tobias Haller


The Archbishop's message for Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day brings back to our minds the appalling consequences of a situation where people don’t speak for the neighbour and don’t speak for the stranger; where people are only concerned about their own security, their own comfort zones.’


Time to be a grown up church

Professor of the History of the Church, 
in the Theology Faculty, 
St Cross College, Oxford
Compulsory celibacy is wrong and damaging for all clergy – straight or gay

Not everyone called to the priesthood is also called to celibacy

So says Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch in The Guardian. (Further Guardian comment here.)

It's not rocket science - as my continually exasperated Latin teacher used reiterate. It's just common sense.  All our understanding of humanity, spiritual guidance, pastoral care and psychology, our understanding of groups and politics says the same thing: a falsehood at its heart corrupts everything.

This particular falsehood - that there are no gay clergy in the Church of England and, if there should be any, then they're all celibate - is so blatantly untrue as to be obvious to anyone. 

Perhaps the Church of England is so used to living with internal contradiction, wilful blindness and avoidance of what's right in front of its face that it can maintain this duplicity without batting an eyelid.

But I would much rather have a grown-up church. One that takes sin seriously in all its forms: sexual, relationship, financial, political and otherwise. One that recognises human frailty not only in our visible failings but also in our inordinate desires to be in the right and to bend other people to our conception of what they ought to believe and do. And I'd hope for a church too that looks for, even evokes, the maturity which comes from the continual process of understanding, forgiveness and acceptance of both self and others. 

I believe that we are both loved and judged by God. Love is a capacity which, however inadequately, humanity shares with God though it can sometimes seem to be in short supply. But, sadly, we are often all too keen to take the task of judging other people off God's shoulders. Any organization needs rules: but if it is to thrive than it must remember that rules are made for people, not people for the rules.

On the other hand, I never did learn Latin.


So who leaked the Jeffrey John papers?

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds has a different and authentic sounding analysis of the Jeffrey John affair - or rather the way the story was leaked, spun and misconstrued.  See the comments section of the Thinking Anglicans report of press coverage.

In Colin Coward's view
It seems clear that it was a conservative member of the Southwark CNC, hostile to the candidacy of a gay priest and a man married to a divorcee, who revealed that Jeffrey John and Nicholas Holtam were on the shortlist in an attempt to sabotage the appointment of either.
No names there, then.

And Coward's conclusion seems incontrovertable:
Changing Attitude’s view [is] that senior officials in the Church are attempting to prevent any progress that might result in a change in attitude and practice in the church. They are blocking appointments, inhibiting discussion, overruling General Synod’s right to determine policy and ensuring slow to no progress in reviewing House of Bishops’ policy.
In this catalogue the legal opinion on the appointment of gay bishops is a key document. But a legal opinion is only an opinion. Those acting in the capacity of trustees must take seriously such advice as they are given. They are also entitled to seek another opinion, were they so minded.

But until any such opinion is tested in the courts it remains only advice. It may be persuasive but it is not definitive.


Civil Partnerships in the Church of England?

From Inclusive Church:
A limited survey by the LGB&T Anglican Coalition has already revealed that almost 100 Church of England churches would want to explore registering their buildings to offer Civil Partnerships if the Church of England would allow it.
All here.


Covenant, conflict and procedural questions

This post argues, first, that the absence of detail means it is impossible to see just how the conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms of the proposed Anglican Covenant will work, or who has what power within its processes.

Nonetheless it is clear that certain structural aspects of the process will work against the Covenant's stated goal of Anglican unity.
A summary of the conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms of the proposed Anglican Covenant is here.


Conflict prevention and conflict resolution are procedures, processes by which politics is channelled away from violence and towards mutual listening, sufficient trust and effective co-operation. Such processes are not simple nor mechanical. The subject is taught in universities and fat manuals have been written on the topic. But you might not think that in reading the Covenant.

(1) Where's the detail?
The main preliminary problem with the procedures of the Covenant is that all we have is an outline sketch. We need a lot more of the picture to be painted in before it will be possible to see exactly how it is expected to work - and just where power lies in the process.

There are good tactical reasons why more details of procedures have not yet been made public - and I am assuming work has been started on the matter:
First, it might make people less willing to vote in favour of the Covenant. The detail set out in the Appendix to the St Andrew's draft was heavily criticised. The process has not gone away, though it has been modified, but hiding it leaves the impression that it is not important.
Second, once a process is outlined it would be possible to cost it (at least to the detail provided). Those promoting the Covenant have consistently sought to avoid any discussion of cost and who would pay. See my earlier speculation; I haven't seen any other discussion of costs, let alone a better informed approach.
This silence may be tactical, it may be indicative of a high level of anxiety that the Covenant will not get sufficient endorsement, it may be dishonourable. Either way such silence reflects the fairly low regard that the Anglican Communion Office, as managing the process of adopting the Covenant, has for those who will vote on the matter. They are to be urged and cajoled, but not informed.

In the absence of such detail people are being asked to vote for pig in a poke.

(2) A confusion of roles
Unless power is to be granted to Canon lawyers, and the fiction that lawyers stand above the fray is sustained, then there is no source of independent scrutiny of either issue or process.

A basic reason is that, unlike secular politics, church structures implicitly assume that we are all basically on the same side, that the natural state of Christian affairs is harmony, and that sufficient prayer, reflection, spiritual maturity and talking will eventually lead all members into Godly agreement.

It is nonsense, of course. Divisions across Christendom and within any Church may be as deep, as fundamental and as bitter as any political division. The worst rows are within families.

The Church of England's General Synod was
deliberately designed to avoid the oppositional
politics, and seating, of parliamentary politics.
Churches might be much better served by learning from democratic secular politics how to build decision making structures on the basic presupposition of disagreement and disharmony (within as much as between parties). The quality of decision making may be no better in secular politics but enemies generally stay in the room for fear of descent into ungoverned violence.

But churches' presupposition of harmony gives no room for structured dissent nor for the separation and  balance of powers.

Instead churches create a kind of one-party state with a unicameral government. The Anglican Consultative Council is not separate from the Primates who are not separate from the Lambeth Conference. The Standing Committee is drawn from the ACC and the Primates. The Archbishop of Canterbury is pivotal to every instrument of Communion and thus to all its sub-groups, conferences, committees, working parties and ad hoc enquiries. No-one is outside the loop, no group may effectively hold another to account, and no-one has power to ensure procedural or natural justice.

So, once again, it's all politics. The Covenant restructures the ring in which the politics take place and in two new and key ways. First, it makes much more of the politics global by bringing so much more of the life of each province under the scrutiny of every other province. Second, it creates the capacity to expel a member from the ring.

(3) Short time-scales
Doctrinal debates have historically taken decades or longer to resolve themselves. The various rounds of discussion, consultation and conciliation envisaged in the Covenant will probably take years; this may not be enough.

The very presence of a structured process (even if its details have yet to be worked out) is potentially very damaging to communion.

As each step is taken and the final full stop is approached it will become harder and harder to keep talking. Public pressure through both traditional and new media will intensify. Shared ground between the parties, the mass of people who would prefer any settlement to the experience of division, and alternative routes out of the impasse will all be squeezed out of the equation. The process will itself generate pressure for a definitive answer.

Even if no timeline is set at the start, demands for deadlines will quickly spring up. It will be ever harder to invent delaying tactics, even when this is the wisest thing to do. When the train is already running down its track it will be a brave driver who can park it in a siding till the worst of the storm is over.

(4) Presumption of single offender
The text of the Covenant seems to assume that a single province, or perhaps provinces separately, will be the offender against who 'relational consequences' may be deployed:
The Standing Committee may request a Church to defer a controversial action. If a Church declines to defer such action, .... (4.2.5)
This is most improbable. Issues that divide provinces from one another also run through the middle of provinces. A complaint by one province against another may be met by a countervailing complaint. Provinces are likely to pile into the fray on both sides of the question. The result will not be the tidy application of a conflict resolution process but a free-for-all (conducted, of course, in a seemly, Anglican manner).

The underlying image of this process is the excision of heresy from the church by legal action. As with the prosecution of Bishop King, for example, the process is to choose the most egregious offender and to seek to expel the person, their doctrine and practices from the Church. Once a court had pronounced judgment all those who shared the views of the condemned man would be given a choice: change opinions or allegiance. Either way heresy and heretics would be identified and forced out of the Church.

Divided in worship
It doesn't work, of course. Successful prosecutions change no-one's mind and very few allegiances. Unsuccessful prosecutions may and do (from the perspective of the promoters) back-fire spectacularly: the issue they sought to expunge from the church may thus be given unchallengeable legal assent.

Similarly, if the dreams of Archbishop Drexel Gomez and others come to pass and the provinces of North America are excluded from the Communion, it would not mean that the evils of accommodation to post-modernism would be excluded from the Communion.

To the contrary: predominantly liberal provinces may well side with the North Americans. But no province is peopled entirely by liberals. Conservatives within liberal provinces may be very angry about such an alignment and they may well seek to join conservatives in other provinces. Those not clearly associated with liberal or conservative factions will find themselves lost and looking for a home.

In this scenario the attempt to exclude malefactors from the Communion will threaten the whole house: precisely the outcome the Covenant was supposed to avoid.

Or the Covenant processes could find that the North American provinces have no case to answer. In which case those who sought their exclusion would have established determinatively that the consecration of partnered gay bishops is within the range of Anglican belief and practice. In that case the conservatives would be forced to choose whether or not to leave.

Either way there will be no winners.


A summary of the conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms of the proposed Anglican Covenant is here.

Jeffrey John story largely speculation?

Jim Naughton at Episcopal Cafe has a different story to Sunday's headlines.

I admit, I'm disappointed. I had thought that legal action might force the Church to revise its practice. But I also wish to keep the record straight, so to speak.

Jeffrey John
Naughton cites Andrew Brown's (Correction: Sam Brown's) article in The Guardian. Though this hedges its bets (with a very cautious opening paragraph and, later, 'News of John's apparent decision to challenge his employers') nonetheless it does seem to rest on the presumption that John is preparing to sue.

In The Independent Jerome Taylor goes over the same ground, pointing out that no-one is happy. Neither conservatives nor liberals like the compromise the Church is trying to pursue. The Archbishop of Canterbury and other leaders know its a precarious position to try to hold and would not want put it at the top of the agenda by a law suit.
But some liberals believe now is precisely the time for them to force the issue. "We are determined to campaign for full equality right now," says Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude, the most prolific, pro-gay lobby within the Church. "There is no sense of urgency among Church leaders. But the Church is sick, it needs to be fixed right away."
The Independent also has a leader article:
The office of a bishop is weighty in the Church. Charged with acting as a focus of unity and with upholding doctrine, the post is supposed to be prayerfully accepted rather than actively sought, which is why reports that the Dean of St Albans may sue the Church of England for discrimination over its refusal to make him a bishop will have shocked the Anglican hierarchy to its core.
Well, possibly, maybe not. But the leader does point out the contradiction of being a state church whilst also trying to avoid the application of the state's legislation. Now disestablishment really would shock the hierarchy.

Naughton's piece has a quote from a different Andrew Brown article in The Guardian to the one cited above. This sets out why John cannot win.
Last year the Church of England published a legal opinion that makes it quite clear that it believes it is legal to discriminate against John, not because he is gay, since he is also celibate, but because he is not in the least bit ashamed of being gay. That is what sticks in the craw of the conservative evangelicals who oppose him. They have moved on from supposing that it is absolutely wrong to be gay. They now believe that it is OK to be gay providing that you are very unhappy about it.
Guardian journalist, Andrew Brown
... the real point is found in the apparently balanced statements of disagreement. "It is clear that a significant number of Anglicans, on grounds of strongly held religious conviction, believe that a Christian leader should not entire into a civil partnership, even if celibate … it is equally clear that many other Anglicans believe it is appropriate that clergy who are gay by orientation entire into civil partnerships." [from the legal opinion on the appointment of gay bishops, para. 26.]
This formulation gives the game away. It is only conservative evangelical opinion which is described as "strongly held religious conviction". The liberals merely "believe it is appropriate", with the implication that their beliefs on this are not religious at all.
This kind of nonsense was dealt with decades ago where women priests were concerned. What needs saying, loud and clear, is that the case for liberalism here is every bit as religious, and as theologically informed, as the case for the conservatives.
Exactly. Liberals are too nice and that is mistaken for a lack of strength of conviction, a lack of passion, and insufficient willingness to clarify fudges. 


Zimbabwe: further harassment

Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri.
Chihuri was once convicted of corruption,
though this was overturned on appeal.
Two letters of complaint by Bishop Chad Gandiya have been published in the Zimbabwean press. Both are addressed to the Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri about the way the Church has been treated by the police.

In The Zimbabwean the bishop details:
  • Our joint retreat with clergy from the Diocese of Manicaland from the 2nd - 6th January 2012 at Peterhouse was stopped by the police who told us to disperse because we did not have police clearance to hold the retreat (The laws of the land do not require us to seek police clearance to gather for worship) 
  • Today the 13th January 2012, clergy wives of our diocese were due to start their retreat at the Jamaica Inn not far from Harare along the Mutare Road. They have been informed this morning by the lady running the Centre that they can no longer have their retreat there.She claims that she was visited by members of the CIO last night who instructed her to cancel our women's booking.
The Association of Zimbabwean Journalists have posted a different letter:
  • 17th December 2011 at St. Bernard’s School in Nyatsambo Village, Mhondoro. I had gone there for a Confirmation Service. The local police had been informed about this Church Service even though it is not a requirement that we do this. Over three hundred people turned up for the Church Service and we confirmed 116 people. After the service two local policemen based at Mamina approached me and asked me, the local priest and our Church Wardens to go to Mamina Police Station because their “boss” wanted to ask some questions about our Service.
On this occasion Bishop Gandiya, his wife and the local churchwardens were kept by the police most of the day, though not arrested. 

He concludes:
The Zimbabwean Constitution allows for freedom of religion. Why are we being harassed like this? Are we second class citizens in the land of our birth? Like any other citizen of this country we expect equal protection by the law enforcement agents of our Republic.

Tensions in Malawi

From George Conger, first published in the Church of England Newspaper, under the headline Arab Spring coming to Malawi?:
Bishop James Tengatenga
The senior Anglican bishop of Malawi, the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga, has denounced the government of President Bingu wa Mutharika as being out of touch and set on serving its own needs rather than those of the people.
In his address, Bishop Tengatenga called upon Malawians to be patient, but also warned that this patience should be predicated on the government accepting its responsibilities to repair the “malfunctioning system” of governance.
“As we enter another New Year on our long journey of waiting for the coming of our Lord, I urge you to be your best and wait with a purpose,” the bishop said, but “any person should be waiting with a purpose and that nobody should cheat another that things in our country are okay when the opposite is true."

This is not the first time the Bishop has expressed his views on the government and its leaders: Malawi Voice, May 2011.

He is also Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, a role which may help protect him as a high profile critic of his government.


Archbishop Makgoba endorses a Covenant

Archbishops in unity - but it looks as though
others have been cropped out
from what was once a group.
The Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba, has written to the Archbishop of Canterbury to tell him that the Covenant is A Good Thing.

I strongly suspect that Thabo Makgoba was asked to write. I am sure that not every letter from a fellow Archbishop is put on Rowan Williams' own site so promptly. And I see the Anglican Communion News Service gives the letter a sub-head: 'A Necessary Covenant'.

I have a lot of time for the Archbishop of Cape Town from what I've read on his site and heard on the radio. I think the Covenant he is talking about (see an earlier post) is a Covenant he deeply believes in and would long to see enacted.

But it's not the Covenant that's on the table.

1) Archbishop Makgoba cites support for the Church in Zimbabwe and for the Church in South Africa in the days of apartheid. As case studies they make a very powerful case for the unified support of the Anglican Communion, in prayer and practical help.

But, unfortunately perhaps, the Covenant would have made no difference had it been in place. Kunonga has been expelled from the Anglican Church. Most churches stood in solidarity with the church in South Africa. What more could or would a Covenanted Communion achieve?

The reason the Covenant cannot help is because it is designed to fight the last war - a civil war within the Church. It sets out conflict resolution procedures between provinces.

The conflicts in Zimbabwe and in South Africa were, first, within the Church's concerned and, second, conflicts between the church and political forces. Nothing in the Covenant adds anything to the coherence currently in place when it comes to addressing either of these dimensions of conflict.

2) Despite the sub-head on the ACNS posting, in fact the Archbishop's support for the Covenant seems conditional:
Yet such mutuality cannot be taken for granted, and indeed, the way that our disagreements on human sexuality have played out suggests we had already begun to drift from that particular sense of belonging to God and to each other, within the wider body of Christ, which was so strong in Southern Africa’s great time of need. It seems to me that the Covenant is entirely necessary, in recalling us to ourselves. Only in this way can we continue to grow in bearing this rich fruit that comes from living the life which is both God’s gift and God’s calling.
Chad Gandiya
Bishop of Harare
Only if the Covenant recalls the Communion to mutuality, to a reinvigorated 'sense of belonging to God and to one another, within the wider body of Christ' will it meet the good Archbishop's aspirations for it.

Sadly, he has forgotten, or chosen to gloss over, or persuaded himself that it will never happen - that one significant purpose which led to the Covenant was the desire of Maurice Sinclair, Drexel Gomez and others to expel the North American churches from the Communion. Therefore the Archbishop does not comment on the power - which did not exist when the South African and Zimbabwean Churches received global support - to ostracise and exclude a part of the Communion.

Yet, for all the rhetoric of communion, unity and interdependence, the power to divide is built into the Covenant. It is not there by chance but because it embodies some people's desire to divide the Communion.

3) The Archbishop addresses the critics of the Covenant (I've split up his paragraph):
Arguments that the Covenant is ‘not fit for purpose’ (for example through ‘going too far’ or ‘not going far enough’) are too often predicated upon an inadequate model of ‘being church’ and what it means to live as members of the body of Christ.
Implicit, it seems to me, is a diminished view of God’s grace, God’s redemptive power and purposes, and God’s vision and calling upon his people and his Church, and so of Anglicanism’s place within these.
Our sense of who we are, and called to become, should not principally be conveyed through legal prisms, whether of some form of centralising authority, or of Provinces’ constitutions and canon law which must be ‘safeguarded’ from external ‘interference’. Nor should we primarily look to structural or legal solutions to our undeniable difficulties or for regulating our relationships.
I think it's the other way round. An inadequate model of 'being church' is articulated in the Covenant. Specifically, it reflects a model of 'being church' which is driven by the conviction that those who disagree with the majority should be subject to law-like processes with the ultimate sanction of expulsion. This is quite the contrary to the Archbishop's visions (see section 5 below).

The Covenant we have in front of us is not a spiritually or theologically rich tapestry of unity-in-difference. On the contrary, it exalts an ecclesiology of bureaucrats.

The Archbishop's experience, his passionate and spiritual commitment to real unity in God - neither denying our differences nor denying the validity of those who hold different views - is immensely appealing. I long for such a church.
From More in Heaven and Earth

But the fact is that 'structural or legal solutions to our undeniable difficulties [and] for regulating our relationships' is precisely what the Covenant contains. It's very nature is that of a document which sets out the skeleton of conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms.

And, yes, it is an utterly impoverished vision of what the church could and should be. And, yes, it does express a preference for the human preference for relying on their own planning than on God.

So I can't see that signing up to it in the hope that it's something else is a very good plan at all. I embrace the Archbishop's vision - I just can't see why he thinks this Covenant is even in the same line of sight.

And I note that he, like almost all advocates of the Covenant, argue for it in very general terms. I have no quibble with the generalities - but when I look at the detail, the actual words, of what we are being asked to sign up to, I despair.

4) Our failure, he says, as a communion, to fully accept our interdependence is a deeper malaise than the symptomatic conflict over sexuality (again, I've split his paragraph).
Therefore, to ask if the Covenant is ‘fit for purpose’ should be to ask whether it helps us address the foundational question of growing together in faithful obedience within the body of Christ. And it seems to me that, above all else, the Covenant does indeed do this, in the way it places God’s vision for God’s Church and God’s world centre-stage; and then invites us to live into this as our ultimate and overriding context and calling.
It does not create new structures or authorities, nor alters constitutions; and scope for individual action remains considerable (as your letter underlines).
The Covenant does indeed set out ways of 'growing together in faithful obedience within the body of Christ'. It also has ways of forcing some to walk apart. The former I endorse; the latter I repudiate.

The Covenant does create new structures in that 'Each Church undertake to put into place such mechanisms, agencies or institutions, ...' (4.2.9) ensure the Covenant is implemented in its own location and to liaise with the Instruments of Unity.

I also believe it will alter constitutions. In the first place there will be a need to change to the constitution of the Anglican Communion which does not, at present, mention the Covenant nor have any mechanism for excluding members. Scope for individual action does remain considerable.

5) (yes, my dividing up again)
Where we are apprehensive about our ability to ‘lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’ (Eph 4:1-2), then it is reassuring to note that St Paul is under no illusions as to how difficult it can be to relate to those who are different within Christ’s body.
Members who are otherwise completely mutually incomprehensible (as seeing is to the ear, hearing to the eye – 1 Cor 12:17) can nonetheless hold together, if they can recognise that Christ lives in the other.
This is something we learnt in the past in Southern Africa, and continue to experience across vast ethnic, cultural, political and socio-economic differences. More than this, we have found that, even in painful difference, we are better able to discern God’s truth together than apart. 
All this is why we hold together in ongoing debate across the whole spectrum of views on human sexuality – we do not agree, and our differences are sharp and painful, but we will not turn our backs on brothers and sisters in Christ and instead will keep wrestling together. This is why we are proceeding towards adopting the Covenant.
Yes. But why then endorse a Covenant which does envisage turning 'our backs on brothers and sisters in Christ', a course of action propounded by the Chair of the Covenant Design Group?

The Archbishop's letter is a powerful plea for the Covenant and I have no doubt that Rowan Williams was very pleased to receive it. It is a plea as much to the Churches of the Global South as to western liberal critics.

But it is all predicated on the Covenant being something that is not actually present in the text: a unity based on mutual love that transcends our differences, of a love of God greater than our grasp of God's truth.

If the the Archbishop of Cape Town can mould the Covenant in the image of his vision I'd be delighted. I'd vote for him to be Archbishop of Canterbury, if anyone asked. But I fear the reality is far from his generous, loving and wide embrace.

Jeffrey John to sue the Church of England

The Very Rev Jeffrey John,
Dean of St Albans
[Update here - a less straightforward story, it seems.]

I think the Sunday Times and the Mail both had this story but, except behind the paywall, the Mail got online first:
'I'll sue Church of England if it bars me from being bishop,' says gay dean
The Very Rev Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans, has instructed an eminent employment lawyer to complain to Church officials after being rejected for the role of Bishop of Southwark.
It's a very interesting move and I'm happy to bet that the CofE will settle out of court rather than face a full hearing. 

The court will, I suspect, have regard to two issues. The first is that of discrimination. Second, the extent to which the Church has followed its own rules. 

Inevitably this touches on the clash between the desire of (some in) the Church to place its structural prejudices in front of human rights. 

However the view that there is no bar to the preferment of gay people who are celibate was recently set out in a formal legal opinion by William Fittal (Guardian article, the opinion - pdf). It will also do John's case no harm that a memo by Colin Slee was later prepared (and leaked) setting out the appalling manner in which the appointment committee was conducted.
Slee said of the meeting: "We had two very horrible days in which I would say both archbishops behaved very badly. The meeting was not a fair consideration at all; they were intent on wrecking both Jeffrey John and Nick Holtam equally, despite the fact that their CVs were startlingly in an entirely different and better league than the other two candidates …
I would guess that the CofE will be liable for considerable damages. 

Assuming John wins his case, whether in the tribunal or outside it, the question then will be: would the Church prefer to keep barring gay people from posts and keep paying compensation, or will it change its recruitment process to ensure that (at least celibate) gay people are not discriminated against?

We shall see.

(Pink News and the Guardian also picked up the story. And I nearly missed MadPriest.)

Secularism and Freedom of Conscience

The Rev. Dr. Michael Jinkins,
President of Louisville Presbyterian
Theological Seminary and
Professor of Theology. 
There is an interesting review of Jocelyn Maclure and Charles Taylor's essay, Secularism and Freedom of Conscience by Michael Jinkins on his blog Thinking Out Loud.

Jinkins applauds Maclure and Taylor and then makes a couple of points that sound (without having read the original) as though they quite undermine their thesis.

He points to a risk in the essayists' approach that their method could lead to "treating one another's differences of conviction and conscience as mere matters of individual taste and preference." This can only trivialise our real differences.

Instead he suggests two other starting points. First:
that the reason we are confronted with so many ways of accounting for ultimate meaning is not because of our finitude or ignorance, but because there really are a variety of ways to be faithfully and fully human.
And, second:
... as humans we do not disinterestedly choose from among a range of axiological options, but are formed in and through communities that that believe certain things in certain ways and value particular things and ideas in particular ways.
We must learn to speak from within our different cultural and religious communities—the very communities that divide us— if we are to learn and to be heard. The great challenge of our time is to live and flourish together though we are different in important respects, but similar in ways that are just as important. To succeed at this critical endeavor, we must acknowledge how the groups and communities that shape us value certain ends and not others. We will not convince one another of our mutual rights to live and practice our faith (or our right to claim no faith at all) as long as we regard one another merely as atomistic ideological or religious consumers.

Amen. But, as with all liberal-minded approaches, it is not sufficient. How can these starting points, which I would endorse, deal with those who reject Jinkins' tenets? How should we respond to organised groups which would use violence of any kind to destroy groups with whom they disagree? 

These are not questions antithetical to the starting points Jinkins lays out. They are questions as to how such liberal values can be taken into alien territory without losing their integrity.


Covenant, conflict and the idea of heresy

This post - one of a series of linked posts looking at the conflict prevention and conflict resolution aspects of the proposed Anglican Covenant - focuses on the underlying model 

A summary of the Covenant's conflict prevention and conflict resolution mechanisms is here.


The core problem with heresy is that it is not amenable to conflict resolution. Conceptually heresy cannot be negotiated with, merely rejected. Practically those engaged in combating heresy cannot, in good faith, debate with those they regard as heretics.

The heresy model
The model underlying the proposed Anglican Covenant - and the conflict the Covenant is supposed to help us all out of - is the perennial conflict between orthodoxy and heresy.

Historically, heresy may be seen as ideas once within the range of Christian expression which, in retrospect, were judged unacceptable (Alister McGrath, Heresy: A history of defending the truth).

But in the moment of conflict, and without the hindsight of the historian, it is essential for combatants to put the issue in binary and oppositional terms as starkly as possible.  The orthodox must be divided from the heretic with a deep gulf or high fences or both: Them or Us; In or Out.

orthodoxy has always sought to maintain
the deep tensions at the heart of the gospel
Michael Jinkins, quoted here
Thus conflicts over doctrine are necessarily presented in simple terms:
I, and those with whom I align myself, are orthodox, godly and good. You, and those you align yourself with, oppose and undermine me in my collective orthodoxy.
Consequently, and much worse, you set yourself up in opposition to God: you are heretics, your notions heretical and you are bad, ungodly, antiChrists.
Therefore I have a compelling duty to act against you: to expunge both heresy and heretic from the church. There is no room for compromise.

Accusation of heresy
An accusation of heresy does not mean that there is heresy. What an accusation does do is:
  • First, to assert that those making the accusation have the theological competence to determine what is orthodox, whether or not they have the organizational standing to act.
  • Second, to challenge church leaders to do something. Those making the accusation implicitly (and often explicitly) accuse bishops, theologians and anyone with perceived authority, of connivance with heresy by their inaction. There is seldom anything bishops can do - they are wrong if they act and wrong if they don't. This merely stokes the fire.
  • Third, an accusation of heresy binds those making the accusation much more closely tightly together  with their allies. This is because they share a common enemy, because they must maintain the gulf between themselves and the heterodox, because they are on the side of God and good, and because theological wisdom, strength of argument or spiritual acuity are not enough: success comes from force and numbers.
An accusation of heresy is the most powerful of power plays in a church because it invokes God on one side of a debate and no structure and no-one, not even the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, has authority to dismiss the accusation.

Heresy and governance
An accusation of heresy is not merely a theological matter. It is also inherently a matter of church governance. 'Success' in doctrinal conflict lies in two outcomes: the expulsion of the heresy and heretics and also the realignment of power structures within the church to the benefit of those who made the original accusation.

This is why bishops and church councils are so effectively trapped in the midst of doctrinal conflict. Their impotence is exposed as they fail to resolve irresolvable differences. Therefore, as they have evidently failed, their role they must be changed.

Shifting the focus from the issue in contention to organizational change itself sublimates an intractable issue into something practical and attainable.

The substance of organizational change is critical because it will answer the answer: where does power lie in the new arrangement of seats?

Heresy and Covenant
The Covenant is the outcome of an accusation of heresy. The alleged heresy is that some parts of the Anglican Church have accommodated to postmodernity when the whole Communion should have stood against modern times as critic and judge. The fundamental equality of persons embedded in human rights is the core heresy: it destroys structures of authority.

However this formulation is much too vague. To get the blood running a narrower focus is always needed. Sexuality (the place of women as well as homosexuality) is symbol and substitute for the larger issue. For example:
... it grieves us deeply to observe many Anglican churches in the west yielding to secular pressure to allow unacceptable practices in the name of human rights and equality. Beginning with the undermining of Scriptural authority and two millennia of church tradition, the erosion of orthodoxy has gone as far as the ordination and consecration of active gay and lesbian clergy and bishops, and the development of liturgies for same-sex marriage. (Communiqué of the Global South Primates during their visit to China in September 2011, para 12.)
The key organizational problem faced by those who regarded elements and areas of Anglicanism as heretical was that the Anglican Communion was not a Church. It was, and currently still is, a voluntary association of autonomous churches. Therefore an accusation of heresy by one part of the communion against another had nowhere to go.

Accordingly, first, some Provinces took arbitrary action by disregarding the convention which said that one member of the Communion should not intervene in the affairs of another. (A history of AMIA in its own words.)

Second, some proposed that the Primates meeting together should have effective power over the 'faith and order' of the Communion. But not enough of the Primates were happy with this responsibility.

The Covenant is thus a compromise. Superficially it proposes to leave the elements of the Anglican Communion (Provinces and the 'Instruments of Communion') untouched. But the conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms that it proposes will fundamentally change all the elements of the Communion and their relationships with one another.

The Covenant and excommunication
Apart from the terrible perversion of the Inquisition the sole effective penalty the Church has always had against heretics has been excommunication.

The offender is expelled from the community of the faithful. The church is thus cleansed and restored to holiness and the offender, in the divine economy, will suffer divine judgment.

Hence the central ironies of the Covenant:
  • First, churches are asked to bind themselves to one another in order to create the capacity to expel one another. 
  • Second, in order to determine orthodoxy a member a church must give up its existing capacity to determine orthodoxy. Anglicans are asked, as churches, to come together to become one Church.

How it all ends
Doctrinal disputes do not end when structures change. Changing structures won't change anyone's mind. Disputes end when people are fed up with them. Then the protagonists can't keep their supporters together, people find better things to talk about and campaign funds dry up.

There is, however, always a legacy of hurt and embittered people: those who participated in the conflict and those unwillingly caught up in it.

Heresy and conflict resolution
The whole conceptualisation and narrative of heresy excludes the basic notion of conflict resolution.

Practice, of course, is another matter. Heresy is about the timeless absolutes of Truth, God's Word, the One Faith. The reality is that fallible human beings in countless committees and councils make the decisions.

Two caveats
  1. I know the proposers of the Covenant insist that there will be no loss of autonomy for participants (explicitly in paragraphs 4.1.2, 4.1.3). But it is a fiction: the engine at the heart of the Covenant works only in one direction - to steadily subordinate churches to world-wide central structures. There is no countervailing structure in the Covenant. The Covenant will usher in extensive change across the Communion the essence of which is that Provinces will not have the capacity to determine their own doctrine. Thus they will lose an essential element of ecclesiastical autonomy.
  2. There are cynics, self-servers and manipulative people throughout the church. However I am not in any way questioning the personal integrity or the faith of those who instigated and pursued the road to a Covenant. On the contrary: I believe that the great majority of those involved in this process are doing so for the most honest and important of reasons - to bring the church back to what they regard as the right relationship with God. I think they are profoundly wrong, but I don't think they are bad.

A summary of the Covenant's conflict prevention and conflict resolution mechanisms is here.


The Lady

I know this is outside the normal diet of this blog.  But I highly commend The Lady (Wiki). I found the film immensely powerful and moving.

It is a glimpse of how normal brutality is in so many parts of the world and how extraordinary is the sustained dignity of  Aung San Suu Kyi.

Primate watching

The veteran watcher of nature's marvels has produced another film with stunning graphics and insightful dialogue:


Truro Church, Fairfax, Virginia. One of the
churches restored to The Episcopal Church

By Associated Press, via the Washington Post
FAIRFAX, Va. — The Episcopal Church should be restored as the owner of several historic churches in Virginia, a judge has ruled, years after the denomination was essentially evicted by local congregations dismayed with Episcopal leadership’s liberal theology.
In a 113-page ruling issued Tuesday night, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows reversed a ruling he made in 2008 giving custody to the conservative congregations. The Virginia Supreme Court overturned that ruling and ordered a new trial.
It is unlikely, though, that the Episcopalians in Virginia will be able to return to their churches in the immediate future. The judge still has to construct a final order to put Tuesday’s ruling into effect, which will be complicated: It involves 42 separate deeds, as well as sorting out various personal property within the church. The one minor victory Bellows gave to the conservative congregations was that they could keep any donations and personal property associated with the churches that they acquired since the split.
It's the final chapter of this book, but it's not over yet. More here ...


Covenant and conflict: definitions?

This is the second post looking at the conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms of the proposed Anglican Covenant. It suggests that there is significant ambiguity over three key aspects of the Covenant: what constitutes an offence under its provisions, what a 'shared mind' is and how it is obtained, and the underlying purposes of the mechanisms it outlines.

A summary of the conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms of the proposed Anglican Covenant is here.


Define: (1) an offence under the Covenant
One prior question is the nature of the potential offence under the Covenant. 

I am assuming on reasonable historical grounds that the issues which divide will be doctrinal. And even if the presenting issue is not necessarily doctrinal the arguments will be conducted on those grounds. (Because doctrine - the teaching of the church as both noun and verb - is what binds us together and what divides us.)

A quiz from the Magistrates Association - how many
offences can you see?
The only offence under the Covenant is 'that an action or decision is or would be “incompatible with the Covenant”.' This would seem to cover offences against (a) doctrine: section 1, (b) ecclesiology: section 2, (c) unity: section 3, and (d) proper procedure: section 4. 

Thus, in effect, any sins of omission or commission in almost any aspect of the life of a church may potentially be “incompatible with the Covenant”.

It is true that no-one can predict where the next big doctrinal row will blow from. Nonetheless the phrasing of  the offence under the Covenant is immensely wide.

Define: (2) A shared mind
Where a shared mind has not been reached the matter shall be referred to the Standing Committee. (4.2.4, see 3.2.4)
This concept has run through the various drafts of the Covenant but it has never been defined, nor has there been any suggestion as to how a definition should be arrived at. 

  • Whose minds have to be shared for the Communion to have a shared mind? 
  • What degree of sharing constitutes sufficient sharing? Should their be a vote? In which case, who should vote? And should there be a super-majority - say 66% - as opposed to 50%+1 in order to establish that minds are shared? Or would there be multiple votes in the different Instruments of Communion?
  • Would a majority vote of the members of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion be sufficient politically even if it is legally?
  • And, before any vote can happen, who formulates the question? What degree of precision is necessary? 
  • What happens after the vote? Will failure to come to a shared mind be definitive - or will there be repeated votes till some agreement is reached?
  • Who has a veto? Could the Archbishop of Canterbury, even in theory, veto something when other Instruments say they have a shared mind? Could the shared mind of the Primates be undone by the unshared minds of the ACC? 
  • Or is the mind of the church sufficiently shared when someone - the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion or the  Archbishop of Canterbury or the Primates - declares that it's shared? Or that it's not.
  • how long should a matter be considered before anyone can or should say that the moment to determine that minds are shared has been reached? 
  • A shared mind map for eliminating stress
  • What would be the test or trigger to move from debate to decision? 
The people who make this judgment on timing hold the key to the whole conflict resolution process - it will be a point of immense power in Anglicanism.

The mind of Christ?
There is also a slightly worrying touch of hubris in the Covenant:
we seek to affirm our common life through those Instruments of Communion by which our Churches are enabled to be conformed together to the mind of Christ. (3.1.2)
The implication is that Anglican convergence as envisaged by the Covenant may be equated with every closer conformity with the mind of Christ.

So it's both comforting and worrying that this sentence is immediately followed by:
Churches of the Anglican Communion are bound together “not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the bishops in conference” and of the other instruments of Communion. (3.1.2)
It is comforting in its reaffirmation of a traditional understanding of Anglican relationships supported by a quote from the Lambeth Conference of 1930.

The worry lies in the apparent dissonance between this statement and the reality of the Covenant: that it will usher in a central legalistic structure, create a greatly strengthened global executive, replace loyalty by contractual relationships and marginalise the counsel of (almost all) bishops in conference.

Define: (3) The goals of Covenant processes - what is it really about?
There is a range of potential objectives for the conflict resolution processes envisaged in the Covenant and it would be foolish to limit them from the start. However some sense of what is envisaged - or what would not be included - might help assess the possible reach and consequences of the Covenant.

Doctrinal agreement
There are two possible formulations of doctrinal agreement:
  • Either there is agreement on what Anglican doctrine is. 
  • Or there is agreement as to what is unacceptable within Anglicanism.
The first is a maximal agreement delineating beliefs and demands a high degree of conformity.

Agreed doctrinal texts are common and often valuable. The extensive ecumenical agreement set out in Baptism, Ministry and Eucharist is a useful example. It is not prescriptive and also outlines those areas where member churches do not agree, sometimes with recommendations for directions of travel. But in its essence it is a voluntary agreement attained with no possibility of coercion.

The Covenant contains the instruments of determining doctrinal difference (conflict resolution). However any Covenant agreement is likely, given its origin in contention between groups with different views, to be used as the basis of coercion - even if it is the passive-aggressive form of coercion envisaged whereby every other member may turn its back on the offending Province.

The second form of agreement - setting out what is unacceptable - is an attempt to set a fence around what may be tolerated. Such an agreement would be more inclusive than the alternative. But the problem is that there is never any clear-cut place to draw any line across the spectrum of belief. Only in retrospect is is possible to say with any confidence what was, and was not, acceptable. Merely making and statement and drawing a line doesn't in fact change anyone's mind. Furthermore, because theology is not an exact science, it is very hard to patrol such a fence given differing emphases and formulations of the same issue.

In an earlier era, John Hapgood, Archbishop of York, argued against an attempt to put a fence round doctrine. Consider cattle farming in Australia, he said, they need no fences despite the vast open spaces - they simply maintain good water holes and the cattle don't stray far. I'm not comfortable with the correlation of Christians and cattle, but otherwise the analogy works for me.

Behavioural agreement
Because doctrine is so difficult to delineate with sufficient juridical precision prospective combatants turn to the behavioural expression of doctrine.

In nineteenth century England the Church Association stopped prosecuting Anglo-Catholics in the courts for their beliefs and turned instead to their ritual. Ritual was governed by law and breach of it was much easier to evidence. Ritual expressed belief and was thus seemed an acceptable substitute route to their main goal of eradicating ritualism and reasserting the unalloyed Protestant nature of the Church of England.

Caxton's printing press:
you can suppress ideas
but not stop them.
At first it worked. Courts declared certain ritualist practices illegal and 5 people were imprisoned. But coercion didn't work. Those imprisoned were regarded as martyrs and, eventually, the courts and bishops simply bent with the wind. The courts did not want to be associated with something that merely exposed their inability to enforce their decisions. Bishops began to veto prosecutions. The Church Association's last fling of the dice in prosecuting Bishop King provided an opportunity to bring prosecutions to an end. Thus the prosecutors achieved the opposite of their objective - the effective legalisation of ritualism within the Church of England.

The same has happened with sexuality. The doctrinal basis that conservatives wish to attack has been expressed in the organizational changes which accept all people as full members of the church - irrespective of their gender or sexual orientation. The attack on the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire was a substitute for a more general attack on the acceptance of modern mores within the Church.

I predict matters will eventually go the same way as the attack on ritualism, but we are not yet at the end of the pain.

Organizational agreement
Organizational change is the goal of the Covenant and will be its inevitable outcome.

If the goal of expelling the North American churches from the Communion is achieved there will be a tectonic shift in relations between provinces. If it is not achieved or only partly achieved (which is entirely possible) there will probably also be a tectonic shift, though in different directions, depending on the actions of the  provinces of the Global South.

Either way the next few decades is going to continue to be an Anglican mess. Out of it will, I predict, come a strengthened and reinvigorated church which will not embody what any of the combatants currently desire for it. Such will be the effect of either enforcing a resolution to conflict or of continuing to avoid a resolution in the face of powerful demands to do so.

In the end, it's all politics.


A summary of the conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms of the proposed Anglican Covenant.


From Zimbabwe's News Day

Ex-bishop Kunonga
Excommunicated Anglican Church Bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, who is now running the independent Anglican province of Zimbabwe has assumed the role of a “Zanu PF commissar and is behaving like a party spokesman”, a political analyst and a Cabinet minister have said.
This follows Kunonga’s open declaration of his support for President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF in the next elections before describing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC-T party as an “embodiment of evil”. more...
This will come as no surprise to anyone. 


Covenant, conflict prevention and resolution

This post is effectively a close re-writing of the relevant sections of the proposed Anglican Covenant. I would encourage you to read the original

It is the background to a forthcoming series of posts offering a critique of the conflict prevention and resolution proposals. I plan to post these over the next two or three weeks.


Finding ways to resolve conflicts in the Anglican Communion without fracturing the communion in the process was a key objective of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

The Covenant outlines two strands to meet this goal.

First, conflict prevention, is designed to predispose provinces away from conflict by greater mutual engagement, entanglement and understanding. To sign the Covenant is to give a prior commitment to seek constructive and shared routes away from future conflict.

The second strand, conflict resolution, establishes a process to address conflict when it becomes intractable.

(The related issue of how some provinces within the Covenant and others outside it are supposed to operate is too complex to contemplate until all, or almost all, provinces have declared their hand.)

Strand 1: conflict prevention:
  1. Adopting the Covenant itself.  Signatories declare their prior willingness to enter a non-destructive conciliation processes should potential conflicts arise (3.1.1 and 3.1.2).  In particular signatories' 'common life' will be 'conformed together to the mind of Christ' through the mediation of the 'Instruments of Communion' (3.1.2 and 3.1.4). By inference this would exclude setting up alternative structures in the Global South or anywhere else.
  2. The 'central role of bishops as guardians and teachers of faith, as leaders in mission, and as a visible sign of unity,' is affirmed (3.1.3). This reasserts the episcopal character of Anglicanism and also disavows any super-guardianship of the faith for the Primates' Meeting, contrary to the will of some in the Global South.
  3. Any one of the 'Instruments of Communion' - The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates' Meeting - 'may initiate and commend a process of discernment and a direction for the Communion and its Churches.' (3.1.4)
  4. In the normal course of events, and in the absence of any particular point of conflict, signatory provinces will re-orientate their way of working to be much more integrated with the Communion as a whole.
  5. Specifically, each Province agrees (a) to 'have regard for the common good' of the whole Communion in its internal decision making, (b) to support the Instruments of Communion with personnel and cash, (c) to take on board the 'work' and 'counsels' of the  Instruments of Communion, and (d) to have a presumption in favour of accepting its 'recommendations'. (3.2.1) At the same time each province will 'respect the constitutional autonomy' of every other province 3.2.2.
  6. Clauses 3.2.3, 3.2.4  and  3.2.7 together are designed to reduce the occasions of potential conflict by creating Communion-wide processes of debate, reflection, prayer and study as the normal condition of the Communion. This is particularly important when innovations in one place or area may give other people elsewhere cause for anxiety (4.2.3). Where there are 'matters of common concern' Covenant signatories commit themselves to seek a 'shared mind' across the Communion according to the tests of Scripture, 'the common standards of faith', and canon law. 
  7. If, however, despite all this communality conflict should arise then each signatory agrees, first, to move with care and caution (3.2.5) and, second, to engage in mediated conversations with a willingness on all sides to 'see the process through' (3.2.6).
  8. The 'functioning of the Covenant' - centrally these conflict prevention and resolution functions - will be monitored by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion on behalf of the Instruments of Communion (4.2.2).
  9. There will also be a mechanism, agency or institution in each signatory church  whose job is to  'oversee the maintenance of the affirmations and commitments of the Covenant in the life of that Church, and to relate to the Instruments of Communion on matters pertinent to the Covenant.' (4.2.9)
The underlying thesis is that greater integration will lead to greater harmony. But, when it doesn't ...

Strand 2: conflict resolution:
  1. Key to the process is the 'question'. There is ambiguity around what exactly constitutes a question in this context but the scale seems to run from 'concern' at one end to complaint at the other. '...  questions may be raised by a Church itself, another covenanting Church or the Instruments of Communion.' (4.2.3)
  2. A question (complaint) triggers a process (or, equally likely, leads to an intensification of a process already under way) to find a 'shared mind' across the Communion (3.2.3).
  3. In the absence of a shared mind the matter is referred to the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. Despite the fact that the SCAC have already been monitoring the matter and, presumably, various of its international groups have already engaged with the issue, responsibility is passed to it directly for a further intensification of negotiations. Considerable discussion between the Instruments of Communion is also envisaged (4.2.4).
  4. Yet the only power granted the SCAC is to ask a province to 'defer a controversial action.' (4.2.5).
  5. Then, should the request to defer be refused, 'the Standing Committee may recommend to any Instrument of Communion relational consequences which may specify a provisional limitation of participation in, or suspension from, that Instrument ...'  (4.2.5).
  6. When everything has failed, and no agreement may be found, the SCAC, with advice from the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates' Meeting, may declare that '... an action or decision is or would be “incompatible with the Covenant”.' (4.2.6) As the trustees of the Anglican Communion the members of SCAC cannot be instructed to make a particular decision. 
  7. On the basis of the same advice the SCAC '...  shall make recommendations as to relational consequences which flow from an action incompatible with the Covenant.' (4.2.7) This is the crunch. Recommendations are to be made to the Churches of the Communion or to the Instruments of Communion (apparently not both). The recommendations will reflect the impact of the action or decision that is deemed incompatible with the Covenant: specifically the extent to which communion is  impaired or limited, and the practical consequences which follow.

*   *   *

The outline given in the Covenant is clearly insufficient. A great deal more work on the detail will need to be done before anything like an adequate structure is created.

I think this will generate a whole new library of Communion-wide rules and procedures that will look increasingly like a unified canon law that will send its tendrils into every part of each Anglican Church. It is quite possible that this work is being done though not yet made public.