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Posted on 05/20/2006 6:53:16 PM PDT by sionnsar
It turns out that there is considerably less to Rowan Williams' two-tiered Anglican Communion idea than meets the eye:
The formulation and adoption of a covenant will not resolve the current division in the Anglican Communion, but could assist the process of reconciliation in the post-Windsor period, according to a report which has been adopted for discussion and reflection in the Communion. The report, titled Towards an Anglican Covenant, was accepted by the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) at a recent meeting in London.
A common covenant could help reconcile opposing factions by focusing on that which unites us, reaffirming our commitment to one another, and thereby helping to heal and strengthen the bonds of affection that have been damaged in recent years.
Any covenant also has the potential of providing what is currently lacking an agreed framework for common discernment, and the prevention and resolution of conflict, the report states. It could do this by bringing together and making explicit much that until now has been a matter of convention with the Communions common life.
The report proposes a five-phase implementation process, and it estimates that it would require six to nine years to be adopted depending on whether the text was submitted by the central assembly of each province or incorporated into the constitution of the ACC subject to confirmation by the Provinces. Other methods of adoption are also possible, according to the report. A draft could be brought to the full meeting of the ACC in conjunction with a meeting of the primates in 2009.
For the covenant to work, it would have to consist of a single formulation which is not subject to negotiation and opt-outs by each Church or Province there comes a point at which Provinces and Churches will have to say about the Covenant that they will take it or leave it.
An Anglican covenant offers dangers as well as benefits, according to the report. Some worry that a covenant might be seen to alter the nature of the Communion towards that of a narrowly confessional family, with the attendant danger that preparedness to sign up to the covenant becomes a test of authentic membership, the report states. Others might see a potential danger in establishing a bureaucratic and legalistic foundation at the very heart of the Communion; putting at risk inspired and prophetic initiatives in Gods mission and threatening Anglican comprehensiveness. There is also a fear that the Anglican Communion might become a centralized jurisdiction.
Any covenant which includes some ceding of jurisdiction to the Archbishop of Canterbury, or to one or more of the Instruments of Communion, would prove to be a sticking point. Provinces and churches which do not adopt the covenant would not immediately cease to be Anglican, but over time a deeper relationship probably would develop among those which did adopt the covenant.
What might emerge is a two (or more) tiered Communion, with some level of permeability between churches signed up to the Covenant, and those who are not, the report said.
I suspected as much. Anglicanism par excellence. We'll talk about it, discuss it, have conversations about it, engage in dialogue about it and put something in place years down the road. With any kind of luck. All that yammering will result in something far short of what is necessary, something ECUSA could enthusiastically agree to and then ignore whenever the Zeitgeist asks it to, prompting yet another Anglican crisis that will take years to resolve.
Lambeth no longer has the luxury of time. If ECUSA refuses to abide by the Windsor Report yet again, Anglican conservatives will not(or should not) be mollified by yet another Anglican process that will take years to implement and may or may not result in ECUSA's expulsion.
The Anglican Communion Network is also running out of chances. If its response to ECUSA's expected fudge is an open letter appealing to Canterbury and urging the laity to hold on while the process plays itself out, if it refuses to take definite steps toward independence, many of us will wash our hands of the Anglican tradition and get on with our lives.
The time for talking is over. We want a simple answer to a simple question. And if we don't get it, that will finally be that.
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