It is getting close to the duck shooting season here in NZ. The aim of duck shooting is to kill ducks. The aim of many against the Covenant is to kill the Covenant (but, remember, we have been assured here, that some against the Covenant are only against this Covenant, though you will struggle to find any anti-Covenant website publishing an alternative written Covenant for consideration). Just as duck shooters having little luck hitting ducks are cheered to find someone else has hit a duck and secured a meal as a result, some cheer is found around the Communion (e.g. at Preludium where a different kind of shooting metaphor is invoked) as news emerges from Facebook, where else, of one of our episcopal units, Te Manawa o Te Wheke, passing a resolution rejecting the Covenant. I cite the motion as reported by Liturgy:
"That Te Hui Amorangi o Te Manawa o te Wheke, for the purpose of providing feedback to te Hinota Whanui/General Synod, states it’s opposition to the Anglican Covenant for the following reasons:
-After much consideration this Amorangi feels that the Anglican Covenant will threaten the rangatiratanga (self determination) of the Tangata Whenua (local people).
-We believe the Anglican Covenant does not reflect our understanding of being Anglican in these islands.
-We would like this church to focus on the restoration of justice to te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi which tangata whenua signed and currently do not have what they signed for."
A few comments from myself. I make them with acceptance that this is a decision made by this hui amorangi and unlikely to be reversed before General Synod 2012 but with an eye on other hui amorangi and synods which may engage with motions about the Covenant between now and General Synod 2012:
Clause One raises all the questions which notions of 'autonomy' raise in connection with the Covenant, and here an answer is given which is in keeping with one significant argument against the Covenant: Anglican autonomy should not be overridden. A particular question from my 'pro Covenant' perspective is: in what ways would the Covenant "threaten" rangatiratanga? Another is: would it threaten rangatiratanga any more that being bound into a three tikanga constitutional framework does?
Clause Two is a democratic expression of our right to believe what we will about what it means to be Anglican in these islands. But has our church ever engaged in a debate as to what it means to be Anglican in our islands? Beyond a 'belief' about such a matter, where is the evidence that the Covenant does not reflect our 'understanding' of what it means to be Anglican?
Clause Three, if followed by our church as a basis for prioritising foci, would mean that our church will never sign the Covenant. We are working on justice in respect of the Treaty, but progress is fitful and the restoration of justice sought here is, arguably, unattainable. On the basis of clause three in this resolution we would never debate the Covenant again!
In our church's governance, if one tikanga votes against a matter, that is it. It is a dead duck. One of five hui amorangi has spoken. What will the other four determine? Where will seven pakeha dioceses go with this? What will the Diocese of Polynesia say?
[The series on consistent Anglican theologies will continue].