In trawling around the Angliblogosphere I notice some positive ruminations about the future of the Communion. All could yet be well. That sort of thing. Maybe I was too bleak last week? In my defence I would say that if the future Communion is congenial and coherent at the cost of being smaller in size then the present Communion has unravelled; and if its happier state is at the expense of independency being favoured over interdependency then 'Communion' is the wrong name for what will be a federation of independent churches willing to talk to each other. Part of the positivity is some reassessment of the Covenant's future. Thinking Anglicans has drawn my attention to a Jim Naughton article at The Lead which I had missed. Naughton thinks ++Rowan may be quietly satisfied with progress to date, envisioning a future in which the Covenant sits right at the centre of AngComm life:
'I am wondering if the proposed Anglican Covenant is as dead as many Episcopalians think it is. It seems to me that Rowan Williams is making slow but significant progress toward assembling a notional center that he can then play off against the left (constituted by us, the Brazilians, the Scots and maybe the Welsh) and the right (constituted by Nigeria, Uganda and the Southern Cone.)
Consider: The Churches of Mexico, Myanmar and the West Indies have approved the covenant, and the Churches of England and South Africa have embarked on a process that seems almost certain to end in its approval. Mexico and South Africa are two of the provinces that opponents of the covenant within the Episcopal Church hoped might keep us company if we declined to sign up.
The Australians and Canadians are in the midst of processes whose likely outcomes are not clear to me. But both are members of the British Commonwealth, and Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Australia is a leading figure among the Primates, so covenant opponents would be foolish to presume that these two provinces won’t follow where Canterbury leads.'
The analysis and prognostications continue till Naughton reaches ACANZP:
'Which brings me to New Zealand. At the moment that province has ratified the first three sections of the document, but not the disciplinary fourth section. Maybe they will leave it at that. Is that an approach our church [TEC] could be comfortable with?'
In the comments responding to the post the 'NZ option' for TEC is canvassed back and forth.
As a matter of fact I am not sure that what we have done thus far is to 'ratify' the first three sections. I think we have said at General Synod that we have no objections to the first three sections, and look forward to further discussion in the dioceses confirming that assessment or otherwise, as well as discussion of the Covenant as a whole with a view to the whole church endorsing the Covenant or not via General Synod 2012. On the fourth section we have sought a legal opinion about an aspect of it - about its constitutional propriety re the ACC. As an observer of these things I do not care to offer an opinion on whether that concern re S4 is such that a good legal opinion being received we will then proceed to endorse the whole Covenant or such that it is effectively a holding action which allows us, for the time being, to have a bob each way. If the wave across the Communion is to endorse the Covenant then we will (after all we were almost there ourselves) and if not then we won't (our concern has been justified)!
What could be interesting for our church is Naughton's thesis that the centre is, so to speak, marshalling its forces, quietly forwarding the Covenant as the key to a balanced Communion. Despite what some say about our church being a fellow traveller on the left with TEC, we are heterogeneous, composed of progressives and conservatives, TECophiles and CofEophiles, those who feel GAFCON is the future and those preferring Global South's lead, some who would happily not the sign the Covenant when everyone else is and some who would vigorously demand that we go along with whatever the remainder of the Anglcian family thinks best, etc. I think that when push came to shove, if (say) Australia and England sign to the Covenant, that would weigh more influentially in our minds that (say) TEC not signing. Further, if (say) Nigeria and Uganda don't sign, I suggest arguments against S4 because it is 'punitive' would be undermined. Who would be driving the punishment forward?
In short: if the Covenant is the centrepiece of a centrist drive to build the future of the Communion (whatever size it is), then it may be hard for ACANZP to resist a gentle wave of peer pressure to endorse it!