Sort of as predicted, our General Synod has passed an easy motion on the Covenant (text at end of post). It is a half-full glass because GS could have rejected the Covenant fullstop. But it has said the mother's milk part of the Covenant (S1-3) is accepted in principle, but - mainly because of doubts about S4's perceived difficulties (mother's bite?) - the Covenant is referred to the Dioceses for two years of study and reporting back to GS 2012 for adoption ... or not.
Here is something for nothing: if other provinces have not adopted by then, it will have great difficulty being adopted here!!
Read and weigh up for yourself the reported tenor and tone of the debate via Taonga's three main reports, one two three.
There is one part of the argument against S4 reported which I find a little odd. Here is the report:
"... said people had repeatedly been told that a Covenant without disciplinary powers was worthless.
That, he said, is strange logic. His own marriage had prospered for 42 years without external disciplinary powers."
Umm. In what way is the covenantal relationship between two individuals, embedded as it is in a powerful, widespread, and very long social, spiritual, and theological tradition, an analogy to a covenantal relationship between some 38 ecclesial entities, relatively youthful in their relating to each other, without a strong theological sense of what it means to be in dispute? Further, every marriage is bounded by a strong sense of consequence to actions inimical to the common life between husband and wife. Adultery? Developing an expensive addiction? Abusing the other? No one with a brain presumes that the relationship must survive dramatic moves away from agreed expectations and mores. It may survive, but it is not compulsory to do so. Where, may we ask, is the bounded sense in the Communion of consequences to actions inimical to the common life of the Communion?
Of course we need to get S4 right. Of course it needs tidying up here and there (as our GS motion points to) if we are to avoid contradicting any current Anglican Communion canon or constitution. But I ask, to what future may a Communion look forward if each and every notion of common life binding us together may be challenged with impunity?
If we do not want to be "punitive" what do we do about those who act with "impunity"?
That's right. We just keep talking. Power accrues not to the strongest but to the most patient.
Whereas this church has been invited by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion to consider and accept or adopt the November 2009 text of the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant, as the Anglican Communion Covenant, and
Whereas a variety of opinions exists in this church and in the Communion regarding some provisions of Section 4 of the proposed Covenant,
Now therefore it be resolved that this General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui:
1. Receives the November 2009 text of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant;
2. Approves in principle the provisions of Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the proposed Covenant;
3. Refers the proposed Covenant to the Epsicopal units of this church for consideration and reporting back to the 2012 session of the General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui, with a view to the Synod/Te Hinota then making a final decision regarding its adoption;
4. Requests the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion to obtain an opinion from the Legal Advisor to the Anglican Consultative Council and from the Chancellors and Legal Advisors Committee of this church regarding the appropriateness of the provisions of Clause 4.2.8 of the proposed Covenant in relation to decisions regarding membership of the Anglican Consultative Council;
5. Reports these decisions to the Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion."