Sunday, November 7, 2010

Go +Gregory

"There is no element of coercion anywhere in the text, but there is an acknowledgement that neither can everything that one Church does be foisted on the whole Communion without the recognition that relations can be damaged. What the Covenant sets out in Section 4 is a proper mechanism that allows the articulation of discomfort, even distance, but which honours autonomy.
But this is too much for our latter-day Little Englanders, who bemoan the passing of the armchair bonhomie of the Athenaeum as the measure of Anglican inclusivity. They would, it seems, rather see the disintegration of the Anglican Communion into a series of acrimonious factions than restate a common faith and witness and find grown-up and responsible mechanisms for the articulation of the life of a whole Communion."
That's what Anglican Down Under likes to hear from the Top of the World (Wales, to be precise)!
The searing critique of the recent advertising in English church newspapers against the Covenant can be read in full here (thanks to Thinking Anglicans for the link to this Church Times letter).
The writer is slightly qualified to speak with authority on the Covenant: take a bow +Gregory Cameron, Bishop of St. Asaph and Secretary to the Covenant Design Group, 2006-09.
The two paragraphs I cite are at the heart of my support for the Covenant: if the Communion is to be a Communion and not a collection of dissonant churches then it needs the Covenant as a statement of a renewed commitment to communion for the 21st century.


Brother David said...

"Bishop Cameron is the same fellow who put a board member of the IRD on the covenant design team. The IRD, as most Cafe readers know, is committed to undermining the mainline Protestant Churches in the United States. Imagine a member of the covenant design team who was a board member of an organization dedicated to undermining the Church of England, or Nigeria."
Jim Naughton, The Episcopal Café - The Lead

Peter Carrell said...

But, David, how does that information rebut the argument +GC puts forward?

Brother David said...

For me it is just one tidbit of information that chips away at both the integrity of +Gregory and the Covenant.

For me, knowing that he did this calls into question his purpose in doing so, and so ultimately my trust in him and the process.

Suem said...

I don't know much about this Bishop, so cannot judge what he is like generally. I think his comment about those opposed to the Covenant being like the BNP was extremely ill judged. Nor was it particularly "grown up and responsible", and I failed to see how it showed a desire to avoid "acrimony"?
I listened to him discuss the issues with Lesley Fellows this morning on Radio 4. She was moderate and reasoned, he was asked at least twice how he could justify the immoderate language he used and seemed unable to do so.

If this man is one of the "authorities" at the heart of the Covenant, how are we to believe that it is going to offer us anything proportionate or rational?

Andrew Reid said...

Hi Peter,
Nice to see someone arguing for the covenant with a bit of conviction and passion for a change!! If we were having this argument 10 years ago before the irrepairable damage occured, and when the "grown-up and responsible mechanisms" (ie the ACC) had some credibility, +Gregory would have me convinced.

I'm surprised the tide is so strongly against the covenant in the CofE. It isn't as liberal as TEC, and their own ABC is the covenant's chief advocate! I thought it would appeal to the Anglo-Catholic groups too, who are more interested in catholicity than provincial autonomy. Obviously, I'm wrong.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Suem and Andrew,

Various sides of current Anglican debates have spokespeople who say ill-judged things, but in this case the Covenant debate needs to focus on the text of the Covenant more than on the jousting words of supporters. The implementation of the Covenant will not be in the hands of (a) any one of these spokespersons; (b) anything less than a group of people drawn from around the Communion (i.e. the Standing Committee).

liturgy said...

I must say, Peter, that I am surprised to read that “the two paragraphs you cite are at the heart of your support for the Covenant.” The name-calling from Gregory Cameron, (“latter-day Little Englanders”, “ecclesiastical BNP”) – these appear to me not as the marks of reasoned respectful debating, but the desperate thrashings of an angry man who is seeing his position sliding away. He has lost the Anglican ethos of being able to disagree without becoming disagreeable. My surprise is at Andrew’s surprise – he articulates it well, as people actually begin to look at what the “Covenant” says they move beyond the doublespeak of it “honours autonomy” to being left to vote for it mainly to please Rowan who, let us not forget, was not elected but appointed, and then by a crypto-papalist. You yourself have, from time to time here, hesitated about the wisdom of clause 4 and the Standing Committee, please do not add your weight to reducing those who oppose the covenant to “latter-day Little Englanders”, “ecclesiastical BNP”, you are better than that. Ps. You will have noticed that the Church Times vote now stands at only 15% in favour of the Covenant.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
I don't cite the words "ecclesiastical BNP". I do cite "Little Englanders": I assume +Cameron is underlining the small-mindedness of some English critics of the Covenant who cannot bear the thought that another body might have some say in the life of the C of E.

What I like about +Cameron in these two paragraphs is that he is alert to the possible disintegration of the Communion and the preference some opponents of the Covenant have for that to take place.

A possible response to +Cameron, consistent with my own concerns re S4 of the Covenant is to advertise support for revision of S4 rather than opposition to the Covenant.

That's not Uncle Tony Cuddly Blair you are referring to as a 'crypto-papalist'? Surely not! Even as a Roman Catholic in the open he shows little deference to the Pope :)

liturgy said...

I am not hearing opposition to clauses 1-3, Peter. Your unhappiness with clause 4 is shared by a majority of Anglicans IMO. You are misinterpreting covenant opposition IMO if you see that as dissatisfaction with 1-3. Lead the charge on clause 4 and you may find surprising unanimity in dissatisfaction with it. IMO there is no way it can be passed by our province, even by those who want to be nice to Rowan and relieve him of his pain. Our province only recognises one (count them 1) instrument of communion: the Archbishop of Canterbury (that’s one more than is recognised by “Anglican” Nigeria). In order to recognise other instruments of communion (let alone the “Standing Committee”) this requires a very complex process which takes at least 3 years and no one has even started that process which cannot start until 2012 here. So nothing is even possible IMO in our province until 2015.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,

Unanimity about improving S4 might occur around the role of the Standing Committee. But I think there is considerable work to be done re uniting those who think the Communion should have some mechanism for discipline (my position) and those who do not (many commenters here!).

On your other point, I shall post on the blog.

liturgy said...

You will have to explain in words of one syllable, Peter, where “the Standing Committee” sits in any rigorous ecclesiology, and how ongoing tinkering with that in S4 will remedy anything when it has absolutely no ecclesiological foundation. We have long been an impaired communion. (Our bishop is not a bishop in the UK, let alone next door). The communion is defined as being those in communion with the See of Canterbury. This is the only instrument of unity that our province recognises. If the See of Canterbury doesn’t have the spine to declare anyone out of communion with it, then they remain in communion. As someone said well recently, trying to put this “Covenant” on the Anglican Communion is like trying to put lipstick on a pig. It accomplishes nothing, and the pig doesn't like it. Argue in favour of it as much as you like, watch it being signed, it will not solve the issues you think it will, because, as we’ve highlighted by our unusual Episcopal structures here (censured by the Primates Meeting!), it has nothing to do with all that, the primary issue is – gays.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
If the pig does not like the lipstick it would be insanity to sign up to having it applied.

If the Communion signs to the Covenant one presumes that it would have the integrity to live by it, thus the ecclesiology of the Communion would be reconstituted through the joint signing. (I happen to think the Standing Committee is not the best practical means of administering the Covenant, but if we all wished S4 to be what it is, the Standing Committee would be a fine ecclesiological entity because it would be invested by the body of Christ with a leadership role).

The primary issue is not 'gays' but on this point we seem to continue to differ. The primary issue is whether the Communion is to be an entity with common doctrine and a means to uphold that doctrine or not. 'Gays' figure in the controversy because certain developments in North America and elsewhere have highlighted the lack of a common doctrine of marriage. But, in my view, just as serious a Communion development is the institution of diaconal presidency because that highlights the lack of a common doctrine of orders and of eucharist.

(By 'common doctrine', by the way, I do not mean 'a narrow hitherto unAnglican doctrine' but doctrine to which the broad Anglican church can sign up to, but not so broad that Anglican comes to mean anything goes!)