|Cartoon by Jonathan Hagger (aka MadPriest)|
A memory supplied by Facebook from four years ago. The cartoon is, for the most part, an insider for Episcopalians and Anglicans about the odious Anglican Covenant that former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and certain other Primates in the Anglican Communion attempted, unsuccessfully, to foist on the rest of the churches in the Communion. The rest of us were, in the main, not having any of it. The coup de grâce was delivered by diocesan vote in the Church of England, Rowan Williams very own church, a sweet victory.
Archbishop Justin Welby summoned the Primates of the Anglican Communion to a meeting at Canterbury in January 2016, and, according to The Living Church, there are those who will try to resuscitate the covenant as a primatial option at the meeting. Of course, the primatial option will be meaningless in the Episcopal Church in the US and in many other churches in the Communion.
Something very much like the Covenant remains, in Oliver O’Donovan’s memorable phrase, “the only game in town” (originally said of The Windsor Report), for the simple reason that it delivers a synthesis of Anglican thinking about the Church wrought as a vision for the future. The alternatives to the Covenant school are amnesia at best, innovation at worst — of an invisibilist or otherwise weakened sort that perceives the Church as simply affective gathering in mission across difference. In ecumenical terms, the pressure to opt for mere “Life and Work” would have us surrender the upward call to a common “Faith and Order,” as if the two are separable.I'll just say the covenant is not for everyone and refer to Mark Harris at Preludium for further commentary in his post titled Flogging the dead horse "Anglican Covenant".
So the Anglican Covenant is being touted again as a way forward in deepening communion. Who knows if the Primates meeting will take up again the somewhat tattered and torn text of the Anglican Covenant. Who knows if that meeting will pay attention to TLC's editorial opinion concerning their work. We shall see.In the vein of my earlier statement above:
The notion of a "Preferential option" by the Primates for the Anglican Covenant makes it appear that somehow the Primates could decide on their own to declare for the Anglican Covenant. I suppose they could. But they cannot declare for their churches. Oh, in some Provinces where the Primate exercises extraordinary executive authority, I suppose they could. But most Churches are guided in polity questions by some sort of synodical processes. So a "Primatial Option" would be the opinion of the primates. Unless it were a unanimous vote for support it would simply affirm that the Anglican Communion is no where near a place of agreement on the Anglican Covenant. Most disturbing is the idea that this title puts forth: namely that a "Primatial option" even exists. There is no common agreement that statements by the Primates on any matter stand separate from the ACC and the decisions by the member churches. "Primatial option" is a really bad idea. It smacks of a primatial preemption.Exactly. The piece in TLC mentions "The Virginia Report" and "The Windsor Report", which are history that I assume the writer wishes were not, and the two are reports, just that, and non-binding on any of the churches in the Communion. I had to search for "The Virginia Report", from 2007, because I did not know what it was. No, I did not read it all.
In sum, whatever else happens to the Anglican Covenant, I hope the Primates will spend as little time in trying to revive the horse as possible and more time in such difficult tasks as looking to common core concerns.Indeed. Let it be so.