07 November 2012

Fallout from New Zealand

The Anglican Consultative Council has finished its meeting in New Zealand, and now we can evaluate the meeting's implications for the proposed Anglican Covenant.

First, there was a rather confused report on the “progress” of the Covenant process in which the authors demonstrated difficulty counting and an apparent inability to understand the word “no” as I have commented before.

Second, there was apparently some conversation about the proposed Covenant.

But third, and quite interestingly, I think, there were no resolutions on the Covenant. So all the ACC did with it was to receive a report on its status with very questionable figures. But notwithstanding some comments about their conversations on the Covenant, formally they said nothing.

(You can see all the ACC resolutions here).

Given that there were no resolutions on the Covenant, the ACC has thus made no formal comment about its status or the direction of the project. We have therefore no indication of an answer to the question raised by the Church in Wales as to the status of the Covenant in the light of the Church of England's decidedly negative vote in its diocesan synods. (This rather bizarrely depicted as a “partial decision” by the report to the ACC.) So the poor Church in Wales, and anyone else waiting for the answer to the same question, is left in the dark.

Nor has the ACC chosen to suggest any criteria for when we might know if the project is either a stunning success or dead in the water. In the summer, after the Episcopal Church's General Convention, I reported that there was talk about setting a deadline for adoption of the Covenant, and specifying a minimum number of churches that should adopt it for it to be in effect. Obviously, I was wrong.

In a related move, the ACC has amended the fourth Mark of Mission, which makes section 2.2.2 of the Covenant out of step, as I predicted previously. Now that the fourth Mark of Mission has new language incorporated into it (in lieu of introducing a sixth Mark of Mission) the quotation in section 2.2.2.d is out of date. The only remedy, as I noted before, is to go through the rather cumbersome process of amending the Covenant, which really doesn't make sense unless and until a critical mass of Churches adopt it.

But given the ACC's silence on the questions surrounding the Covenant, we are left wondering whether this is a project worth spending any time on. Should we continue to study and deliberate on the proposed Covenant, or simply walk away and find a better project, such as the Continuing Indaba process, which the ACC endorsed in a resolution?

I conclude from the ACC's silence on the Covenant that it is moving on from the project. If it's not important enough for the ACC to comment on officially, then it's lost its significance for the Communion. I think it can be shelved.

The ACC took a brief glance at the Covenant as it sank unceremoniously beneath the waves of Auckland Harbour, but made no efforts to stage a rescue.