Monday, May 10, 2010

General Synod (Monday): the Covenant

Sort of as predicted, our General Synod has passed an easy motion on the Covenant (text at end of post). It is a half-full glass because GS could have rejected the Covenant fullstop. But it has said the mother's milk part of the Covenant (S1-3) is accepted in principle, but - mainly because of doubts about S4's perceived difficulties (mother's bite?) - the Covenant is referred to the Dioceses for two years of study and reporting back to GS 2012 for adoption ... or not.

Here is something for nothing: if other provinces have not adopted by then, it will have great difficulty being adopted here!!

Read and weigh up for yourself the reported tenor and tone of the debate via Taonga's three main reports, one two three.

There is one part of the argument against S4 reported which I find a little odd. Here is the report:

"... said people had repeatedly been told that a Covenant without disciplinary powers was worthless.

That, he said, is strange logic. His own marriage had prospered for 42 years without external disciplinary powers."

Umm. In what way is the covenantal relationship between two individuals, embedded as it is in a powerful, widespread, and very long social, spiritual, and theological tradition, an analogy to a covenantal relationship between some 38 ecclesial entities, relatively youthful in their relating to each other, without a strong theological sense of what it means to be in dispute? Further, every marriage is bounded by a strong sense of consequence to actions inimical to the common life between husband and wife. Adultery? Developing an expensive addiction? Abusing the other? No one with a brain presumes that the relationship must survive dramatic moves away from agreed expectations and mores. It may survive, but it is not compulsory to do so. Where, may we ask, is the bounded sense in the Communion of consequences to actions inimical to the common life of the Communion?

Of course we need to get S4 right. Of course it needs tidying up here and there (as our GS motion points to) if we are to avoid contradicting any current Anglican Communion canon or constitution. But I ask, to what future may a Communion look forward if each and every notion of common life binding us together may be challenged with impunity?

If we do not want to be "punitive" what do we do about those who act with "impunity"?

That's right. We just keep talking. Power accrues not to the strongest but to the most patient.


Whereas this church has been invited by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion to consider and accept or adopt the November 2009 text of the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant, as the Anglican Communion Covenant, and

Whereas a variety of opinions exists in this church and in the Communion regarding some provisions of Section 4 of the proposed Covenant,

Now therefore it be resolved that this General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui:

1. Receives the November 2009 text of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant;

2. Approves in principle the provisions of Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the proposed Covenant;

3. Refers the proposed Covenant to the Epsicopal units of this church for consideration and reporting back to the 2012 session of the General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui, with a view to the Synod/Te Hinota then making a final decision regarding its adoption;

4. Requests the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion to obtain an opinion from the Legal Advisor to the Anglican Consultative Council and from the Chancellors and Legal Advisors Committee of this church regarding the appropriateness of the provisions of Clause 4.2.8 of the proposed Covenant in relation to decisions regarding membership of the Anglican Consultative Council;

5. Reports these decisions to the Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion."


Suem said...

The analogy of a marriage between a husband and wife is an interesting one. I agree that there are rules and vows, but ones they enter into because they love one another and are willing to keep those rules and believe they can and it is right that they do so.

Some of the partners in this marriage have already walked out and set up home separately. We are already taking each other to court over who owns what. Harsh words have been flung back and forth.

Surely the wedding analogy would be more a sticking plaster wedding?It might even be more a pre- nuptial agreement in preparation for a divorce.

Bryden Black said...

One of the interesting things about this entire debate behind the Anglican Covenant is the ease with which folk simply adopt the language forms of the world about them. This results in their quite simply not being able to see what it is that the Gospel itself has uniquely established among us.

This was one reason why I wrote “Whose Language? Which Grammar? ‘Inclusivity’ and ‘diversity’, versus the crafted Christian concepts of catholicity and created differentiation”, published by ATF Press in the collection “Whose Homosexuality? Which Authority?” For when we notice how the Christian Gospel has both appropriated and yet transformed the very discourses of the world, then we shall be able to have the wisdom to steer a way in love and truth not only through our present Anglican dilemmas (often presented as pro or anti gay) but also well into the 21st C whatever it may throw at us.

Anonymous said...

To wear my stripes, I am a flagrant member of TEC and am in accord with its various apostacies [sic], as such I am opposed to the thrust of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant. I am opposed to it first and foremost because it is clearly a contract, and not a covenant. It is a contract that arises in response to a particular set of recent conflicts, and to my reading favors a particular constituency of these conflicts.

While no Church should cringe from its statements, the dictates of the fullness of the Christian revelation and the life of the Church, at least as I know them, would beg, “Yes, and…,” or in some instances “Yes, but…” however, most certainly not simply, “Yes! Only, yes,” at every turn.

It has the feel of a line of hostile questioning by a barrister, or of an employment contract in dense, legalistic boilerplate offered by a corporate human resources department that seeks to preferentially dictate and control a relationship and indemnify the drafter. Only there’s no cross-examination forthcoming, no counter-proposal to be tendered. I am surprised that the Church of New Zealand would seriously and apparently earnestly enter in to it reserving concerns only about Section 4.2.8.

I have more add. Hopefully I can continue in a new box.

Anonymous said...

It would be disingenuous for any to represent that the intent of this document is not expediently aimed at seeking to have the North American (and I thought the New Zealand) Churches to capitulate on their discernments about the full roles of women and all the baptized in the sacramental life, leadership and all lay and ordained ministry of the Church, or either to voluntarily renounce and remove themselves, or be involuntarily moved in the direction of marginalization and possibly eliminaton from the Anglican Communion.

The Churches in the Developing World face different theological issues and different pastoral needs than those in the Developed World. To maintain that they do not is either to be dense or to to have a hidden agenda. I do not believe that we stand in the way of the Church in the Developing World, except perhaps when they advocate imprisoning or executing people on the basis of their sexuality. For the most part, I believe we support the Churches of the Developing World materially and spiritually. I hear the concern that false characterizations of the pastoral positions of some of the Churches in the Developed World make it difficult and purportedly even dangerous for impoverished and persecuted Churches in the Developing World. I’m not convinced of the clear validity of these claims nor of the solitary nature of these problems, i.e., if we in North America didn’t support the ordination of women and homosexuals to all orders, and supported extending marriage to homosexuals, or weren’t looking deeper at the Faith in the context we find ourselves that life for the Churches in the Developing World would be a bowl of cherries. I think that is a false dilemma.

These areas of conflict are really issues of church discipline, arguably with aspects of moral theology. They are clearly not dogmatic issues. Confusing and treating matters of church discipline as matters of dogma is a hallmark of the Roman Curia (not to be confused with the Roman Church, mind you) and as such should be looked upon with deep suspicion as suggesting more an origin in the Will to Power, rather than out of genuine, pastoral concern.