Saturday, January 14, 2012

A GOOD LETTER TO THE CHURCH TIMES FROM TWO CHURCH OF ENGLAND BISHOPS

From the Church Times:
From the Rt Revd Dr John Saxbee and the Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby

Sir, — Whichever side of the argument you are on there are grounds for real concern about the way the debate about it is progressing. It cannot be good to learn, as we do, that many bishops who are against the Anglican Covenant don’t want to say for fear of seeming disloyal, that diocesan synods are “debating” the issue without hearing both sides of the argument equally presented, and that there is so much boredom and weariness about the whole issue.

This is a major proposal with potentially serious consequences for this and future generations of Anglican Christians, and for those ecumenical partners with whom we are in conversation. Nothing will be worse than for the Covenant to be yawned through at a July Synod preoccupied with debating the ordination of women as bishops, passed and then put in a drawer — only for us to discover that those who now brand it “toothless” then use it and propel the Communion into a litigious and factious future.

The Archbishop of Canterbury made it clear in his Advent letter that such is not his purpose. But the proposed Covenant cannot now escape the identity it has acquired as an instrument of exclusion. He also asks what is the alternative; we respond that the alternative to having a Covenant is not having one, and this is a time to hold fast to Anglicanism’s inherited culture of inclusion and respectful debate which is our way of dealing with difference rather than require assent to procedures and words that have already shown themselves to be divisive.

In short, if we can agree it we don’t need it and if we need it we won’t agree it. We believe that the Covenant is to be resisted. But, above all, our plea is for a debate that is candid, even-handed, and open. If it comes to the General Synod, it should do so as its seriousness deserves, as the principal business.

JOHN SAXBEE
PETER SELBY
The Archbishop of Canterbury is trying to railroad the Anglican Covenant through the Church of England General Synod quickly, before too many people in the church have a chance to study the document closely and note what harm may result for the Anglican Communion and for the Church of England if the covenant is adopted. The Anglican Communion Office sends out only pro-covenant materials, which is not right and not fair, because the members of Synod need to hear from both proponents and opponents of the document in order to vote wisely.

Thank you, Bishops Saxbee and Selby for speaking out. Isn't it time for the other bishops who doubt the wisdom of adopting the covenant to lend their voices to the debate? I like very much the answer the bishops give to Archbishop Rowan's statement that there is no alternative to the covenant:
...we respond that the alternative to having a covenant is not having one and this is the time to hold fast to Anglicanism's inherited culture of inclusion and respectful debate....
Amen and amen!

Thanks to my English friend, Neal Terry (aka themethatisme), who sent me the letter which can now be viewed on the website of the Church Times.

6 comments:

Brian said...

Just when I have reached the point of despair over the church and its role in the modern world prophetic voices like these good bishops speak out and rouse me from my torpor. Add to that Jeffrey Johns filing a discrimination suit and the video of the Trinity Wall Street dialogue and I repent of my despair. There are still some powerful voices speaking with, of, and for God. Thanks be!

Caminante said...

Bravo for these two brave voices. People don't have access to material against the covenant if a bishop is pro-covenant.

They are quite right in naming the boredom and weariness with the whole thing, which can be quite dangerous, indeed.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Brian, I have no patience with people who will vote for such an appalling mess of a document out of loyalty. It's a shameful thing to do.

That was a fine lecture at Trinity, wasn't it? I should link to it and also to the news about JJ, though I wish the article was in another paper besides the Mail.

Marez said...

excellent!!! Thanks for posting

Jim said...

Don't forget the Bishop of Truro - the Rt Rev Tim Thornton - who is I think the first bishop to vote against the Covenant in a diocesan vote (Truro as a diocese rejected the Covenant, like all CofE dioceses who've had fair material putting both sides of the argument).

Grandmère Mimi said...

Marez, you're welcome.

Jim, I may post an update reminding everyone of Bp. Thornton's courageous vote when I return home after church.