30 May 2012

Effects of not adopting the Covenant

The Canadian Church's Council of General Synod (CoGS) has said that a “key message” that it wants to send to the next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) is that it doesn't yet understand what the “relational consequences” would be for a Church that does not adopt the proposed Anglican Covenant.

With all due respect to CoGS, on which I have served, it seems to me that the real key message here is that the members of CoGS haven't adequately studied the proposed Covenant or the report that CoGS received a year ago from the Governance Working Group on the legal and Constitutional ramifications of the proposed Covenant.

Where to begin?

For starters, “relational consequences”, though not clearly defined, apply only to Churches that have adopted the proposed Covenant, and that only at the end of a process of dispute resolution. Relational consequences have been depicted by opponents as a punishment, and by supporters of the Covenant as nothing more than the natural outcome of a Church persisting in doing something that it has been told is “not compatible with the Covenant.” Rather like a ticket is nothing more than the natural outcome of driving over the speed limit.

So whatever relational consequences are, they cannot apply to a Church that does not adopt the proposed Covenant.

The Governance Working Group said as much in its report to CoGS, which I would suggest the members re-read to refresh their collective memory.

There might, I suppose, be some political consequences in rejecting the proposed Covenant, but that's not the same as relational consequences. And it's hard to see what political consequences would ensue, given that the Church of England has already decided that it doesn't want to sign up to the Covenant. And Ireland, contrary to what the Anglican Journal reports was stated by the Anglican Communion Working Group, has waffled on its support for the Covenant. It deliberately did not adopt the Covenant, but rather “subscribed” to it. Whatever that means.

Personally, I think the key message to the ACC should be that the proposed Covenant was a well-intentioned attempt to deal with the tensions in the Anglican Communion, but it's dead in the water and it's time to move on to something better.

And CoGS needs to do its homework.