One of the oddest features of the arguments against the Anglican Covenant is their distinctly unAnglican character if we meaure that character against the idea of the "via media." It is worth thinking about this for a moment as we take in the news that Scotland has voted No to the Covenant (now there is a surprise), and absorb the impact this might be having on TEC a few weeks out from its General Convention, where no less than seven resolutions are on the table currently, to say nothing of its impact on our own ACANZP's General Synod debate on the Covenant in Fiji in the same month.
So a number of arguments against the Covenant invoke a fear of Romanization of the Anglican Communion ("We don't want a pope!", "There will be a curia if we have this darn Covenant"). Now, if the Communion were to be Romanized, it would be quite fair to fear. Take this blogpost in the Tablet (no less) which reminds us of the intricacies of Roman canon law as it responds to divorce and remarriage, both finding a way to prevent reception of the eucharistic elements for remarried divorcees (no matter how contrite) while offering the possibility of redefining (in some cases, at least) a real divorce of a proper marriage as an "annulment." [H/T Fr Ron Smith]. That's the stuff of Roman Catholic legal culture that is disagreeable for many Protestants, indeed even for Anglicans who vigorously deny that they are Protestants. Does any Anglican want to go down that route as the future of our church? All right, you do. But how many of your friends want to join you?
But does the Covenant take us to this Romanized Anglicanism? I assert what I have argued here many times before that the answer is "No." To try to summarise those arguments: the Covenant does not institute a Curia, a Magisterium, let alone a Pope, but it does inaugurate a means for resolving differences between member churches on matters one such church cares enough about to make a complaint, and it does so on the basis of some agreement together on what we hold in common.
Where are we left if we do not agree to the Covenant? Again, recalling some past posts here, it is my view that the Covenant is ineffective if we have some 6-8 or more member churches formally refusing to adopt it. With Scotland's No we are getting closer to that, so this question is lively. What is left? Not much in my view. We are left with a Communion which will have refused to grow closer together, thus reasserting the paramount value of individual autonomy for member churches, and, despite pleasant talk about wanting to do more things together and talk more, no means to establish what our common life is. nor to demur when that common life is undermined by yet another stage in the diversification of Anglicanism.
I suggest the Roman Catholic church has a somewhat bleak future to it if it cannot engage better with life as we find it rather than life as we wish it to be - an engagement as the blogger James Robert reminds us which should be driven more by the question of What Jesus would do than the question of what canon law means.
But I wonder if the Anglican Communion has an even bleaker future if it cannot engage better with what the 'common' bit of Communion means.
At least James Robert, as he engages with his own church's peculiar logic, can mount an argument for change because there is a wrong to be righted. In a Covenant-less Communion the best we can do as we look around us is to observe that what another church is doing is interesting. None dare call wrong what another's General Synod has called right.
On this analysis, I suggest that the Covenant is actually the via media between the tight unification with associated casuistry of canonical law represented by Rome and the unchecked diversification of of an unCovenanted Communion.