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LONDON: That Petre 'covenant' story
VirtueOnline-News ^ | 5/20/2006 | Ruth Gledhill

Posted on 05/20/2006 7:38:13 PM PDT by sionnsar

By Ruth Gledhill
Ruth Gledhill weblog
The Times Online
May, 19, 2006

I blame The Da Vinci Code for the fact that I missed this story. You can read Jonathan Petre's story in the Telegraph that's been causing a bit of a stir in the Anglican world. I've been stirred into action myself after blogger Jim Naughton took my name in vain, assuming that neither I nor Stephen Bates have the document. Stephen's on sabbatical. Anglican Mainstream has a report here. The document will be posted on the Anglican Communion website on Monday. Don't hold your breaths, folks, it's really not that exciting. In case you can't wait til Monday, I' ve posted some of the key extracts below. But the question I really should be asking myself is, why am I doing this at 8pm on Friday night? Obsession with one's subject as a specialist reporter is commendable I suppose, but I really want my dinner.

Anyway, enough of me. I'll probably delete that bit tomorrow.

The document of which my sainted brother Jonathan wrote is a report of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion which met in March. A brief report appeared in the latest Anglican World, which I guess is where JP first saw it. I'll have to start reading that magazine. The report is into the proposal in the Windsor Report that an Anglican Covenant be introduced as one way in which trust and cooperation could be rebuilt between the churches of the Anglican Communion. The report of the JSC proposes several different models be drafted of a covenant text, and that eventually an agreed covenant and text be established.

The report outlines the dangers of a covenant, that it 'might be seen to alter the nature of the communion towards that of a narrowly confessional family, with the attenandant danger that preparedness to sign up to the covenant becomes a test of authentic membership.' Other dangers were the potential of establishing a bureaucratic and legalistic foundation at the heart of the communion, threatening Anglican comprehensiveness.

However, on the plus side, a well-written covenant would clarify the identity and mission of the churches of 'or in association with' the Anglican Communion. I like the 'in association with'. Is there going to be a new category of associated membership, to which Ecusa might perhaps be attracted? A covenant would set out the 'house rules'. These would develop 'a disciplined and fulfilling life in communion.'

A covenant could be short or complex, it could restate a formula such as the Lambeth-Chicago Quadrilateral, which most provinces could accept, or it could have real teeth by ceding jurisdiction to the Archbishop of Canterbury, making him into a sort of Anglican Pope. This would create problems. Many provinces would not accept this.

Drafting and approving it, with every province, diocese and synod being consulted, will be a long process. Nine years, the JSC report suggests, but it will surely take longer. Most Anglican provinces would need to be able to adopt it through their canons for it to even have a hope of working.

The report says: 'It will not do to say there is one Anglican Covenant for this group and another Anglican Covenant for that group. For the covenant concept to work, there comes a point at which provinces and churches will have to say that they will take it or leave it.'

Leaving the Anglican Communion would not necessarily be the result of failing to sign up. 'The marks of Anglican identity go deeper,' the report says. However, over time, 'stronger presumptions of mutual recognition and interchangeability of ministry and membership would arise between those churches and provinces that had signed up than amongst those who had chosen not to do so.'

The report says: '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.'

I have to confess I think it might work. But the question I cannot really answer is, if provinces don't accept the covenant, will that constitute schism or not? Two-tiered schism perhaps? Can anyone tell me?

ruth gledhill

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 05/20/2006 7:38:15 PM PDT by sionnsar
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2 posted on 05/20/2006 7:39:01 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0urs)
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