For and against the Covenant

A couple of pdf files arrived today - one, a speech to the Christchurch Diocese in favour of the Covenant (but not delivered), and the other a summary of the discussion about the Covenant in the diocesan synod of Argyll and the Isles.

Speech for Christchurch Diocese
Bryden Black's argument for the Covenant turns on two points: first, that it had largely been accepted by the New Zealand Church already. Its General Synod had accepted Sections 1-3 and, apart from a 'legal nicety' it could have been adopted already.

The legal nicety - to which no answer has yet been made public - concerned the interrelation of the Covenant, the Standing Committee and the constitution of the ACC. I would have thought this a fairly basic consideration.

The start of work to build Christchurch's Transitional Cathedral
was marked with a sod-turning ceremony on Sunday afternoon.
But his main argument is that, in the absence of a Covenant,

there is no means for churches to formally and properly and duly recognise each other as being indeed party to Anglicanism. 
[and later] What the Covenant achieves is to present to us all the clear means of mutual recognition across the world-wide Anglican Communion, one born of a suitable interdependence which then prompts an appropriate accountability.
Furthermore, the Covenant also enables other Churches to recognise formally who exactly is a member of the Anglican Tradition and who not. 
[and ends] In sum. Without the Covenant, how would current Anglican Provinces genuinely recognise each other? And without the Anglican Communion Covenant, how would other Churches be able to recognise those voices as Anglican who seek to speak and act into the global Church of the 21st C? Brothers and sisters; our very Christian identity as Anglicans, I suggest, is here at peril. 
(I've kept the emphases as in the original but, to be fair, it should be remembered that this was written as a speech.)

Celtic cross
Black obviously knows that Anglican Churches do currently recognise one another. I assume he knows that those Churches which are members of the ACC are listed, authoritatively, in an appendix to its constitution.

So what would be different that would comprise 'genuine' recognition? Theological agreement - to what degree of precision? Mutual recognition of orders - including those of women? What degree of uniformity would be deemed sufficient?  Would those churches which declined to sign the Covenant no longer be recognised as Anglican?

In the end what we are left with is a proposal for a different Communion: a single Church formed in part by dropping overboard any current member which didn't want to don the straitjacket: unity created by exclusion. Our Anglican identity would indeed be imperilled, though not in the way I guess Black intended.

Discussion in Scotland
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, discussion was phrased in different tones. It's always hard to read the notes of a discussion cold, with no sense of tone of voice or the mood of the meeting. However the conclusion from Argyll and the Isles was:

The overall feeling of the Diocesan Synod was that the Anglican Liturgy was valued but that the Anglican Covenant would not solve the cultural and theological tensions and was too restrictive.
There did not seem to have been any recorded comments positively in favour of the Covenant, though a couple in favour of the Communion (and a question about whether it mattered).

The Covenant was seen as divisive and no solution to existing divisions.

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