Note: there hasn't been much recent activity on this blog because there hasn't been much recent activity with respect to the proposed Anglican Covenant. I have some ideas about other topics I would like to pursue in this space, but it was initially set up to address the Anglican Covenant. I have decided to reserve this blog for that topic until the disposition of the Covenant has been determined. Once that happens, I will look to other topics as the muse strikes. In the meantime, posts to this blog will inevitably be sporadic.
As previously noted, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, at its 2010 meeting, called for study of the proposed Anglican Covenant, to be supported by the production of three documents: a study guide, a legal analysis and a theological analysis. We received an excellent study guide and an equally excellent legal analysis in short order. Last November we were disappointed to receive a flimsy report from the group that had been asked for the theological analysis. I would make a lame joke about how it ought to have been titled The Dogma Ate My Homework, except there was no theology in it.
Resolution A-137 of the General Synod of 2010, having called for study of the Covenant, then “direct[ed] the Council of General Synod, after this period of consultation and study, to bring a recommendation regarding adoption of The Covenant for the Anglican Communion to the General Synod of 2013.”
Yesterday, at its last meeting before the General Synod to be held in July, the Council of General Synod (CoGS) decided on the resolution that it will present to General Synod. To wit, the resolution will:
Request the conversations in the Anglican Church of Canada about the proposed Covenant for the Anglican Communion continue during the next triennium, andRequest the ACWG to monitor continued developments about the proposed Covenant for the Anglican Communion and report to the spring 2016 meeting of COGS andDirect COGS to bring a recommendation regarding the adoption of the Covenant to General Synod 2016.
You can see the full discussion toward the end of the CoGS notes for March 15th here.
There are several ways to read this development.
First, and most obviously, CoGS is not doing what it was directed to do by the 2010 General Synod. That is, it is not “bring[ing] a recommendation regarding adoption of The Covenant for the Anglican Communion to the General Synod of 2013.” However, in its defence, it could be argued that it would be premature to do so because the period of consultation and study is incomplete. A few dioceses in Canada have undertaken extensive studies of the proposed Covenant in the last three years, but others have presumably been waiting (in vain, as it turned out) for the theological analysis before undertaking their own study. After all, if you're going to do a study, and you've been told that there will be important background material forthcoming, it makes sense to wait for that material. You can't fault dioceses that have been waiting for the background material for not getting on with the study process. Especially when there's evidence that even CoGS hasn't given the Covenant much study. That said, there are no doubt some dioceses across Canada where there simply isn't a critical mass of interest or energy to study the Covenant document. And now that its future and status are in serious question, interest is waning. It would be nice if some credible body were to make a clear declaration as to whether it's worth flogging the horse any more.
The second way of reading CoGS's motion is to see it as a delaying tactic. Perhaps CoGS is suggesting subliminally that General Synod not take any action just now, anticipating a declaration that the horse is dead. Wait a few years, monitor the situation, and then see if there's anything that needs doing.
The third interpretation is that CoGS is suggesting to the dioceses that haven't yet taken the opportunity to study the proposed Covenant that they do so in the next three years or forever hold their collective peace. Maybe. But the problem is that CoGS is not apparently calling for the theological work that was left undone to be done in the next three years. That being the case, the dioceses will still not be in a position to do a thorough study in the next three years because the necessary background material still won't be available. And energy is definitely waning out in the provinces. We have other things to do than engage in a study process that might (and probably will) prove to be entirely superfluous.
It will be interesting to see what General Synod will do with the resolution in July, and what amendments (if any) are introduced.
In the meantime, we continue to watch for the puff of white smoke above Lambeth Palace that will indicate the burning of the Covenant, and the declaration from the balcony: Non habemus pactum.