March 28, 2012

Covenant Amendment

Now that England has said No to the Proposed Anglican Covenant — though of course they can eventually reconsider, so claims it is "dead" are a bit like those concerning that Monty Python victim I referred to earlier — some are mooting the notion that the Gafcon group or some other contingent might now sign on, and then reshape the PAC by amendment to be more to their liking. There is a fatal flaw in this plan, first raised by the ACI some while back, and it lies in the text of the Covenant itself.

The amendment process to the Covenant (4.4.2) involves and requires, in no uncertain terms, the participation and instrumentality of the full Standing Committee and Primates and Anglican Consultative Council — after all, this thing was conceived as the future for the whole Anglican Communion, and the hope and goal was that most if not all would adopt it. So the amendment process does not involve just the signatories. The signatories have the last word on amendments once passed through the digestion process described — which includes revisions to the amendments made by the full bodies — but they have no capability to amend on their own. Sorry folks: if you want to start a revolution, you will need to start de novo, or continue to beef up Gafcon into a rival Communion.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Brother David said...

Good analysis Padre!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Gracias, Hermano D.!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

As to the future, I'm not counting any chickens at this point. My hope is that S.A. will perhaps reconsider, but ++Thabo just wrote a very warm letter to ++York urging him to urge that diocese still to vote Yes as a sign of solidarity with S.A.

This is, sadly, what the Covenant process has become: it has almost nothing to do with what the text actually says, but is a token, or worse, totem. In reality it is the Bronze Serpent instead of Jesus!

Brother David said...

I would be afraid of this vote in the diocese of York. I wonder how many trots with folks down to the washroom for the arm twisting ala Lambeth Palace it will need to pull off a vote of which he approves

MadPriest said...

There will be no desire to raise the dead body of the covenant back to life in England in the foreseeable future. Bishop James Jones of Liverpool let the cat out of the bag when he stated that he had originally backed the covenant only out of loyalty to Williams. He would not have been alone. The bishops were in a "Hobson's choice" situation. They would not have wanted to give up much of their own independence and authority, they would not have wanted arguments in their dioceses and possible schisms and, some of them, would not have really wanted the covenant on philosophical grounds. James Jones was obviously greatly upset at having to break with episcopal collegiality and it was difficult for him to do so; and he, as he has proven in the past, is a courageous person who will stand apart from his friends when his conscience compels him to do so. Most other bishops are not that brave. But they will take full advantage of the no vote to avoid being put into this uncomfortable position again, especially now that Williams has resigned.

In England we tend not to see-saw on major ethical issues in the same way that Americans do. The idea of a same sex marriage law being passed and then overturned within a year or so, would be alien in our politics. Instead, we argue and prevaricate for ages and ages (as the matter of women bishops shows) but when we make a decision it sticks until the zeitgeist of our whole society changes.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thank you, David. I had suspected York would go for the Covenant in any case. But we shall see.

Thanks MP for the encouraging words on this. I remained suspicious only of some complexity of English synodical procedures -- which do seem interminable and always open to further delay and revision!