Monday, May 4, 2009

ACC has the power to draw the circle of unity tighter or to unleash the dogs of division

Mark Harris of Preludium offers an interesting, possibly even strange post on the ACC (meeting as we speak in Jamaica) and the Covenant.

He is concerned that the Covenant in its Ridley Cambridge form (i.e. the most recent draft) will be offered to the Communion on the basis of 'if you wish, sign up to it; if you do not, do not; but we are not going to have (some kind of) meeting in which the Communion agrees in a majority vote to accept or reject the Covenant.' One paragraph of the post reads thus:

"The real problem - and it is devastating - is that by making this a matter for individual church "sign-up" rather than a substantive agreement among the churches of the Anglican Communion, the several circles of pan-Anglican engagement are confirmed. And that being so eventually those of us not part of the Anglican Covenant Communion will be in a separate ecclesial community from those who are."

I think this is an interesting, if not indeed strange post because in reckoning with the potentially divisive consequences of this particular means of offering the Covenant to the individual member churches of the Communion, Mark Harris seems not to reckon with either the division already among us, or the potentially greater division should nothing further be done about the Covenant.

Nor, indeed, does he seem to take account of the consequence if the Communion were to find a way to meet so that a vote could be taken. Anything short of a unanimous vote for the Covenant would be a disaster. (There is, of course, no satisfactory manner of the Communion meeting in all houses of bishops, clergy, and laity, and puh-lease do not tell me it is the ACC which constitutes this meeting. If you go here you will see the membership of the ACC. Note that some member churches have more members attending than others, and that lil' ol' ACANZP has as many members present as any other Anglican church!!).

I am confident that the ACC, especially because His Eminence the Wise One of Canterbury is present, will proceed with due gravity in its awareness of all consequences lying before it. I have precisely the same confidence that the ACC in the face of most difficult quandaries re 'the best of all possible outcomes' and the 'least worst of all possible futures' will decide to proceed in this way: it will draw the circle of unity around the Communion a little bit tighter.

Just how tight will be revealed when member churches make their response to ... whatever it is we will be asked to respond to.


Mark Harris said...

I kind of thought it was a little strange myself... made one correction. The blog consistently referred to "provisionally" when I meant "provisionality." O well.

Meanwhile, thanks for the note. You are quite right to suggest that not having a Covenant means one sort of division, even if having it means another. The question then is which sort of division is better?

My provisional response is that I'd rather division as a product of real differences in action rather than as a product of willingness or not to sign on to a Covenant.

Peter Carrell said...

I had wondered whether 'provisionally' was meant to be 'provisionality', but harboured the thought that I was insufficiently aware of the range of meanings for 'provisionally'!

I understand your final point. The willingness or not to sign to a Covenant might turn out to be a simple formalising of 'division as a product of real differences' ...