Daily Archives: November 30, 2010

Brief Anglican Covenant Thought

Much ink, real and virtual, has been spilt over the Anglican Covenant. I’ve largely stopped commenting on the on-going inter-Anglican feuds but can’t resist just one little comment here…

The Archbishop of Canterbury is right: the Covenant has no ability to change what any one church does. It cannot make anybody do or not do anything. If we want to have either girl bishops or gay bishops, a Covenant will and can do absolutely nothing about it.

All the Covenant can do is more completely describe what other parties do about how one particular church acts.

A Covenant cannot and will not limit the actions of the Episcopal Church.

Take a look at the vote numbers from England’s General Synod for a second:

Bishops 39 for 0 against 1 abstention
Clergy 145 for 32 against 11 abstentions
Laity 147 for 25 against 8 abstentions

The passage of the motion for the Covenant to be sent to the dioceses for discussion and ratification was not half-hearted or narrow.

There are two ways to look at the Covenant: 1) a relatively province-neutral organizational scheme or 2) a referendum on North American actions. It seems that most of the rhetoric from the major players see it as the second. If this is true, then the English vote should be seen as a wake-up call to the Episcopal Church. Whether we’re doing the right things or not, our sister church has sent us a message—our actions will have consequences. Our response should be appropriate. That is, continued argument against the Covenant is, to my mind, pointless because it reads as a continuing argument for American exceptionalism, a statement that we don’t want to live up to the consequences of our actions.