February 20, 2012

No[t This] Anglican Covenant

Over at Thinking Anglicans,  I had raised the issue that the Proposed Anglican Covenant does not reflect a consensus in the Communion, and a correspondent suggested the problem wasn't the draft document but the idea behind it, which he described as "un-Anglican." I thought I should explain myself a bit further, though I think reading my past comments on the Covenant show the trend of my thinking.

My only reason for not joining the "No Anglican Covenant Coalition" lies in the title chosen for the Coalition. I am well-set in my mind against the current draft PAC, but I do not in the long run think the idea of a set of rules for the conduct of inter-provincial affairs in the Anglican Communion is in itself "un-Anglican." We have, I think, a sufficient such arrangement in the by-laws of the ACC, but I am not averse, nor do I think it contrary to good sense or our traditions, to exploring other ways of working together across the Communion. But the current document is not it. As I've said in the past, I think the IASCOME Covenant for Mission or the Continuing Indaba and Mutual Listening Process much more helpful towards edification; in particular as the PAC explicitly calls for de-edification (i.e., "relational consequences" that will decouple or lessen the "bonds of affection").

The problem most people seem to have with the current draft lies in section 4; which while attenuated remained in place in spite of the considerable feedback against its inclusion. Without Section 4, (esp. 4.2) I do not think we would be seeing the lack of consensus, and the document might well be adopted by a wide margin. Of course, this would not please those for whom Section 4 was not punitive enough -- so even then it would not be a consensus statement.

The real problem is that there is no consensus in the Communion at the moment. That was the point of my comment. I've long said that, as in pre–marriage counseling, times of conflict are not the times to work out agreements for managing conflict or for getting married; and if the present Anglican Communion were a couple seeking to wed, I would counsel waiting for quite a bit rather than crafting a pre-nup.

Hope this explanation is helpful to those who find my position difficult to grasp.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

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