Comments: Anglican Covenant: six more Diocesan Synods

So how the the PAC supposed to operate with the ABC an integral but excluded member of the structure?

Posted by Prior Aelred at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 3:44pm GMT

I am always interested in the number of voters. Do they give an accurate count of the total number of clergy in a Diocese? If so, they seem to be small numbers. Or are the clergy elected to attend as representatives of the whole group of clergy?

Posted by Adam Armstrong at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 3:53pm GMT

Representatives ! Don t worry not that small!

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 4:03pm GMT

This has been a victory of the broad Church over the presumptious leadership and those who had ambitions of empires. It has also been a victory of new media, of bloggers like Jonathan Hagger, Paul Bagshaw, Jonathan Clatworthy and Lesley Crawley. We kept going (the Covenant has been my most persistent topic) and the Church of England may just have been rescued from that iceberg that Graham Kings told us was unavoidable. It met its melting point. Anyway, I'm off to play marbles. Anyone fancy a game of marbles?

Posted by Pluralist at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 4:04pm GMT

So thats it no covenant for England. Or will the two archbishops try to tell us what we really think or Need

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 4:10pm GMT

RIP the 'punishment plans' that wanted to exclude liberals from the ACommunion after making attitudes to homosexuals the litmus test of Orthodoxy. If the extreme Evangelicals now wish to gather round the distasteful views of eg Nigeria, then their breakaway church is not in the name of the English nor the Church of England.
What Fulcrum and Rowan and his advisers, and indeed the Bishops (who are now seen to be so out of touch) forgot, is that as the Established Church, the CofE belongs in some senses just as much to its non-attenders as to its 'members'. The CofE is not a toy that belongs to an Archbishop (cf other Provinces?!)) but to the English people, who find homophobia abhorrent and scandalously distasteful. And are looking for a lead to move the church on, which everybody THOUGHT they had in ++Rowan, but which will now be the job of the new ABC. I am so relieved and overjoyed, and as ever, rather more genuinely and generously committed to the Anglican Communion than people like Graham Kings suggest opponents are. Lets get back to business as usual in the Communion, and those who choose to exclude themselves because they are anti-gay will hopefully return and get the bigger picture. The Gospel.

Posted by Neil at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 4:16pm GMT

There's joy in south Louisiana.

What is Plan B for the supporters of the covenant? I'm sure something is in the works.

Posted by Grandmère Mimi at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 4:24pm GMT


Clergy are elected as representatives. Each diocesan synod must have between 100 and 270 members with approximately equal numbers of clergy and laity. So the voting figures give no clue on total numbers of clergy.

If you interested in clergy statistics, you can find the latest available figures here:

Posted by Peter Owen at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 4:34pm GMT

One of the English Bishops (who voted FOR) told me today he didn't really want the Covenant:

"It makes me heave to think we will have to go on rejecting fine priests such as Jeffrey John - without the Covenant, the pressures off!"

And lest some think the anti-gay credentials of the Covenant are imagined let me share another email from someone at the heart of the Covenant process who says of the Covenant's failure in England and likely shelving later in the year at the ACC: "It would certainly make my life easier in *********(name of diocese) as we negotiate the perils of Civil partnerships and gay marriage ..."

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 4:45pm GMT

A remarkable result and one for common sense over the vitriol poured out against the opponents of the centralising agenda seeking too be imposed over the whole communion.

I'm sorry for those in favour, but hopefully they will now appreciate that a democratic decision has been made and move on to concentrate on mission and building the Kingdom of God, not foreign Bishops.

Posted by UKViewer at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 5:09pm GMT

Let's add up the numbers: there are more 'yes' than 'no' votes; only the abstentions have carried the day. The amount of support *for* the Covenant more than indicates that it will not go away any time soon. At the diocesan level the Covenant has been rejected - no one can doubt or deny that! But when we look more closely, we see that this is no resounding victory for the No Anglican Covenant crowd. To the contrary, their victory has been attained only by the narrowest of margins.

But perhaps 'Thinking' Anglicans might wish to rename itself 'Shrieking' Anglicans? At least that would accurately describe the intellectual quality of most of the posts on this blog.

Posted by guyer at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 5:14pm GMT

The Covenant began in homophobia (or rather some peoples' efforts to controls the US church's attitude to gay people), it continued as homophobia, albeit disguised and dressed up as an effort to maintain unity (but at what/whose price?) and it rightly ends, at least in England, in failure and ignominy. At the same time society moves on to consider not whether or if, but how do we ensure complete, full and equal inclusion of GLTB people in society. The current Bishops' working parties on attitudes to sexuality and civil partnerships look and are now irrelevant and a waste of time. Graham Kings, Fulcrum, Anglican mainstream and all the rest have lost. They have a choice. Join the real world or become increasingly irrelevant, shouting louder and louder only to the declining numbers of those who can hear them. The rest are now deaf to their voices. The Covenant is dead. Long live Communion.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 5:18pm GMT

A silly thought, but will the rejection of the Covenant influence the thinking of those searching for ++Rowan's successor? There's no strong stomach in the CofE for further centralising, particularly at the cost of making ourselves look silly (which is very different from 'foolish', which has an honourable ancestry as a vocation) over issues of human sexuality.

Nice to see all three bishops in here Lincoln voted it down:-)

Posted by david rowett at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 5:24pm GMT

It is now apparent not only have cofe bishops been ignoring lgbt for all this time but also the rank and file.

Time for general Synod to be RUN more synodically ?

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 5:32pm GMT

Thank you, Martin for what you write. The saddest bit of these quotations is not, to my mind, the ridiculous nonsense that bishops have been voting against their consciences, but that civil partnerships and gay marriage (THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS GAY MARRIAGE!) are a "peril". Who, but bishops in the C of E, and the 250,000 who have been stampeded into voting for the coalition 4 marriage's petition, think of these things in this defensive way?

Posted by JeremyP at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 5:57pm GMT

Seconding 'guyer' what is the percentage of Bishops in favour? Is it 85%?

One wonders how this will play out if the provinces decide to move past the first 8 adopters into the 20-25 range, should that happen. As he says (in my own words), it is a kind of fact on the ground, independent of the very narrow defeat itself. The covenant allows adopters to form associations so perhaps we will see this kind of thing play out. But it far too soon to say, and the ACC meeting is a full 6-7 months away.

Posted by c.r.seitz at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 6:08pm GMT

Joy in Guatemala (too)! Our heros in England did the deed before we had breakfast in the New wonder we look to you for Comprehensive Unity! Thanks and God Save the Queen!

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 6:11pm GMT

I must admit that although I voted no in one of the dioceses that rejected the covenant today I cannot quite bring myself to pop the champagne cork as over women bishops and hopefully one day over civil partnerships in church. Somehow this 'victory' feels hollow and I can't explain why.

Posted by Fr Paul at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 6:57pm GMT

I'm not at all surprised by the efforts to turn a failure to gain a majority into a "narrow defeat" -- for a document purporting to be the "only way forward" for the Anglican Communion. Even a narrow victory, on that ground, would have been a substantive defeat.

It is too soon to say what will happen in the rest of the provinces as they decide what to do. I can say that from folks on the ground in Mexico and Southern Africa that the decision to adopt was political rather than deeply felt. Perhaps they will eventually choose to "withdraw" from the Covenant. Other adopters may do the same.

Those who remain, or who adopt, will be, precisely that: a subset of the whole Communion. It is at the very least abundantly clear that the "Anglican Communion Covenant" adoption list will not be continguous with the "Anglican Communion" as the Communion has long been understood. There will be those who adopt, and those who do not, and only those who do will be governed by its rules, and the few members of the Standing Committee who are members of those covenanting churches. 25 years from now we will look back on a Bad Idea Poorly Executed.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 6:58pm GMT

This Episcopalian sends his most heartfelt thanks to all of those in England who worked so hard and against so many large and powerful obstacles to defeat this.

I remember when the conventional wisdom said that this would sail through the Church of England with maybe a handful of dissenting votes. This is a remarkable accomplishment for people who started with nothing in the way of organization or budget, and with the Powers That Be arrayed against them. Congratulations on reminding the Archbishops and bishops that the Church of England, like all the Church Universal, belongs to God and to all of its members together, that the Holy Spirit speaks through the Church as a whole, and not exclusively through its princes and executives.

Posted by Counterlight at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 7:05pm GMT

The Church of England will not be the only one, apart from the Philipines, to reject the proposed Anglican Covenant. When Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia meets in General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui, in July, the Covenant will almost certainly be rejected, as two of the three Tikanga [and 3 out of the 7 dioceses in the other Tikanga] have voted against it. As decisions of the GS/THW require assent of each Tikanga, as well as each Order, it seems doomed.

Posted by Tony Fitchett at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 7:19pm GMT

OK, there's a lot of celebrating here.
What is this confused Yank missing?
Did the Covenant fail in England?
If so, why? Is it because not enough dioceses voted "Aye"? What was the threshold? A majority? 2/3?

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 7:28pm GMT

1. I'm sorry to note the tone of some of the 'triumphalist' comments rejoicing at the rejection of the Covenant by the majority of C of E dioceses (mine—St Eds & Ips—being one). Whatever one's views on the Covenant (and I am inclined to share the views of the Bishop of Liverpool), we should acknowledge the efforts of A/B Rowan to maintain the unity of the Anglican Communion.

2. In answer to JeremyP, there is no such thing as gay 'marriage'. Marriage, as defined by English law, is the "voluntary union for life of one man with one woman to the exclusion of all others" and long may it remain so. The Government's idea that it can have same-sex civil marriage separate from religious marriage is both misleading and misguided: see my letter in The Times on 15 March 2012. Opposing same-sex 'marriage' is nothing to do with homophobia, but a recognition that marriage between a man and a woman is a relationship ordained by God from the beginning of time: see Genesis 2 v 24 and Matthew 19 v 4 (among others). Civil Partnership has given gay couples equivalent legal rights, as was made clear by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on the second reading of the Civil Partnership Bill in 2004: see Hansard HL 22 April 2004 col 388 - cited by Sir Mark Potter P in para 51 of his judgment in Wilkinson v Kitzinger [2006] EWHC 2022 (Fam) (accessible at

3. A comment further to Peter Owen's answer to Adam Armstrong's question about clergy voting in diocesan synods: With the reduction in stipendiary clergy numbers across the country, it means that with the requirement (in CRR rule 31(8)) for the Houses of Clergy and Laity of diocesan synods to be "approximately equal", if all clergy seats were filled, roughly half the clergy in a diocese would be members of the synod. In practice, this does not happen and in many diocesan synods there are many clergy vacancies (that is certainly the case in my diocese). Perhaps this is something that General Synod should consider when next reviewing the CRR.

Posted by David Lamming at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 7:41pm GMT

Guyer and Seitz, that's right, if you can't win by following the rules try to move the goal posts so that you win anyway. The reality is that those for the covenant have tended to win big when they've won, while those opposed have more frequently won narrowly. Those opposed have still carried about 3/5ths of the dioceses so far. Call it systemic protection for those slightly in the minority.

Posted by Jonathan at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 7:46pm GMT

What is the significance of the number of bishops for or against Chris ?

Do they somehow 'count' more than everyone else ?

It is bishops (including archbishops !) who have done so much to wreck the Anglican Communion we had. It bumbled along, was ok, some folks linked up to do GOOD ! Not all this politcking by American financed and led mind-numbing and numbed 'fundamentalsim' (which is nothing of the sort ! it ignores the fundamentals of Jesus message)

And all because of a hatered of queers - well we re going no-where / Here To Stay !

as ever..........

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 8:32pm GMT

Couldn't dioceses in GB sign up like it was suggested of US dioceses by the ABC?

Posted by Mark Diebel at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 10:49pm GMT

"Opposing same-sex 'marriage' is nothing to do with homophobia,"

Yeah, right.

"but a recognition that marriage between a man and a woman is a relationship ordained by God from the beginning of time"

Not if you are an atheist it isn't - your 'God' has nothing to do with it.

It is civil marriage equality that is being proposed by the government. It really isn't that difficult to understand but, one more time : "Marriage is not owned by the Church of England or any other religious body". There.

Posted by Laurence C. at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 11:20pm GMT

"Those who remain, or who adopt, will be, precisely that: a subset of the whole Communion" --
how can a 'subset' be something on the order of a majority of provinces of the Communion, a vast majority of the Bishops of the CofE, should the former adopt on the same grounds as the 8 provinces already (including non-Gafcon and Gafcon both)?

Or is what you are saying, 'I hope that the 30 provinces yet to adopt follow the lead of CofE laity/clergy'? That is a clearer logic. One can however wonder whether it will prove true.

I think the frustration of a No movement is that it cannot do anything about provincial Yes and adoption. A No effort in the CofE can actually generate a Yes movement elsewhere in the provinces. The 8 who have said Yes already did not believe the CofE was somehow a major factor in their own consideration, and Kearon reiterates that in his public statement.

Posted by c.r.seitz at Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 11:46pm GMT

Appreciate your pointing out just how out of touch the bishops are, Dr Seitz.

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 2:02am GMT

This is coming to the General Synod in the United States this summer. ECUSA is going to be even less well-disposed towards the ACC idea than it was before, to say the least, and of course there was the unceremonious rejection in the Philippines the situation in Japan which seems to indicate almost deliberate creation of some sort of church polity equivalent of 'development hell', so considering what Tony describes of the situation on the ground in A/NZ/P (I know nothing about A/NZ/P and the way it does Anglicanism so I'm taking his word for it absent any correction; if anybody can correct or finesse this, please do so) and the halfheartedness in Brazil and Southern Africa, anybody who thinks that there's any sort of consensus on this that only a few wayward provinces are rejecting, and anybody who's at all inclined to be triumphalist about 'punishing' their theological and political enemies one direction or another, is highly myopic about this.

Posted by Nathan at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 2:57am GMT

"what is the percentage of Bishops in favour? Is it 85%?"

Actually, Mr Seitz, it's 79.5%. You will find complete statistics here:

Also, note that the votes of the bishops don't actually count at all in the diocesan votes. I think what that means is that they couldn't stop an inititative supported by the clergy and laity (or by a majority of the dioceses voting by orders), but their overwhelming support of an initiative turned down by the clergy and laity does nothing to sway the result.

The fact on the ground is in fact that the Church of England is just about evenly divided on the question of whether the Covenant ought to be supported.

Incidentally, I agree with you that the other Provinces must have their say according to their own constitutions and processes. I don't understand your comment that "the covenant allows adopters to form associations." Can you point me to the relevant section in the Covenant?

Posted by Alan T Perry at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 3:53am GMT

[Is a post of mine missing?]

"Opposing same-sex 'marriage' is nothing to do with homophobia, but a recognition that marriage between a man and a woman is a relationship ordained by God from the beginning of time"

DavidL: If you're trying to say that a MARRIAGE between two men or two women is NOT "a relationship ordained by God from the beginning of time" then, ipso facto, that IS *homophobia*. You can't disparage the God-given dignity of the Imago Dei of your LGBT brothers & sisters, IN their spousal relationships, and convince me that you're not prejudiced.

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 4:26am GMT

When the issue of raw votes was first raised, I pointed out that this was an attempt by Covenant supporters to spin bad news into good by the use of creative arithmetic.

"Certainly not!" they cried.

Yet here we are - is it even a week later? - with the very same indivisuals attempting to spin the irrelevant raw vote results into the means to claim victory.

Gentlemen, I advise you that, were you public relations professionals, the phrasing of your comments here might well place you in violation of the codes and professional standards of any of the relevant professional bodies.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 6:18am GMT

Claims of unalloyed joy and triumphalism 'Shrieking' out from these comments suggests to me that some people come here with their contributions already writ!

Many of us here - and we have little if any influence on events - have opposed this process from the beginning. when the Lambeth Commission was announced (2003) I wrote this in Richard Kirker's voice

I do not feel elated, like Fr Paul. Some of my close friends have put their heart and soul into this work and I share their grief.

I feel the Anglican Communion has a long and honourable history yet to come. There is clearly going to be a division of some sorts as the Sydney power games work their way out, but in time I believe these wounds will be healed too. I look for a new Covenant that will reach out and embrace churches from the Reform tradition and build a family of churches that God will use as a great force of love and transformation.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 7:19am GMT

David Lamming - your definition is indeed the current legal one. The point is that the government is intending to alter it. Which it can do.

And as for imagining that this definition is also something that was written into the structure of the universe, that is sheer fantasy. Hardly anyone in the OT seems to have got hold of the idea. Marriage in other cultures is still extremely various - polygamy, polyandry, serial monogamy, temporary kinds of unions for various age stages - including gay unions. Methods of marrying also are nothing like our voluntary unions - think of all the forced marraiges, abductions, transactions and so forth that supposedly make up this universal institution. It is all out there there - so trying to link a bit of English legislation (which has only been in existence for, what, 150 years?) to a supposed universal divine ordinance won't wash.

If the government alters the law, then civil marriage will become available to couples regardless of the gender of parties contracting the marriage. So gay marriage doesn't exist - but in England and Wales it is likely that a form of marriage for all couples will happen. As I understand it, the government tells us that this will not affect religious institutions who don't want to welcome such couples. The intention is not to allow religious marriages for same-sex couples - even for those who want to offer it. So the situation will be the same as for couples who are married in a register office where one or both have been divorced. The churches/synagogues etc will be able to offer then whatever liturgical/spiritual provision they want, but not to marry them: that will be a civil matter. And as with couples where there has been divorce in the past, we are not obliged to offer them a service in church if we don't think it is appropriate.

Posted by JeremyP at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 7:32am GMT

Well, the world-wide Anglican Communion seems to be reverting to a Trinitarian type of collegiality - if that's the correct word in the circumstances:

1. YES to the Covenant
2. NO to the Covenant
3. GAFCON Provinces

It's perhaps as well that Saint Paul once and for all defined true orthodoxy 'en Christo':

In Christ, there is neither Greek nor Jew, Male nor female, Yes Covenanter; No Covenanter, nor Gafconner. But all are given the same Spirit.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 9:35am GMT

Dr. Seitz, a subset is any part of a larger set that does not include all members of that larger set.

I am not counting any chickens on this matter, though you appear to be doing so. If 30 provinces adopt, then 15 or so will not have adopted. What that means is that there will be some new thing, not a new Anglican Communion, made up of members of that Communion, committed to following the procedures laid out in the document should disagreements arise among them. The covenant only applies to those who have adopted it. If the whole communion does not adopt, it cannot be a document for the whole communion. That was its ostensible goal (given its title and opening clauses) and it has failed to achieve it.

I think it was wise of the C or E to reject this deeply flawed proposal, and while I am more loath to make predictions than you, I do not think we will see a rush to adopt. As I say, a few years from now we will see who among us has a better finger on the pulse of things.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 1:50pm GMT

@David Lamming. You say that 'Marriage, as defined by English law, is the "voluntary union for life of one man with one woman to the exclusion of all others" and long may it remain so.' The definition of the word 'long' in your sentence is 24-36 months. I don't know whether you consider that long or not, but it rather reminds me of the fact that the Church of England and the Church of Ireland were united 'in perpetuity' in 1801 - the Anglican definition of 'in perpetuity' has therefore been fixed as 'around 70 years'.

Marriage will be gender neutral in England, Scotland and Wales within the lifetime of the current parliament. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news and all that, but that is reality.

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 2:32pm GMT

As I have previously stated on another thread on this blog, the point about popular support for the Covenant is not that canons or diocesan votes should be ignored - by no means! Rather, my point is that if one wishes to really think about the votes that have taken place, one must admit that a number of dioceses that voted against the Covenant did so not on a mass basis, but on the basis of - quite literally - nothing more than a few abstentions. The popular vote *for* the Covenant indicates that support for it will not die any time soon. The victory that the No Covenant crowd celebrates today is much misunderstood if it is seen as decisive or popular, for it is neither - and this is as good an indication as any that what the No Covenant crowd wants is not the voice of the people to be heard but, to the contrary, victory plain and simple. As so often among left-wing groups - think 1789 or 1968 - populist rhetoric is merely a ruse. Do the math. Look at the facts. Move beyond emotion into the realms of logic and reason. This is neither a grand victory nor a grand defeat, but a draw.

Posted by guyer at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 2:44pm GMT

I have stated elsewhere on TA, I was never in favour of the Covenant.

Given the results of surveys contained in the report, 'Civil Partnerships 5 years on', the outcome does not mirror a shift in society's view of civil partnership. The church's stated position is not at variance with the wider society in rejecting gay marriage. If that happens, it will be by political fiat overruling popular opposition.

The outcome is a defeat of the proposal to alter the way in which we resolve future inter-provincial differences. The Standing Committee will not have 'cease and desist' authority over all Anglican provinces. This is the true meaning of this victory, rather than a vote specifically endorsing gay marriage. Regardless, I suppose that some will take heart where they can.

This result actually reflects a belief, especially among the laity, that, however well couched, specific Covenant provisions were at odds with the traditions of the church and that most Anglicans do not believe that an inter-provincial authority would be the best way forward for resolving future differences when they arise.

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 4:34pm GMT

"If the whole communion does not adopt, it cannot be a document for the whole communion" -- that is partly correct, partly wrong. (btw, You have your total number of provinces wrong -- it's 38, not 45). It will be a document for the whole communion in that it will show which members of the Communion have covenanted together and move forward on that basis. If a substantial number of provinces adopt, then the covenant will be the means of their common life, including internal and external representation.
The problem with No campaigning has been noted elsewhere. It can only determine what is not wanted; it cannot coopt the saying of Yes by others. Kearon appears at pains to make this clear. What the CofE as a province does affects only them.

Posted by c.r.seitz at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 6:32pm GMT

@guyer There remain a number of Dioceses to vote - six I think. I assume they will vote anyway, even though the covenant in its present form cannot go back to Synod. So the numbers game is not yet over. I suspect that not all of the remaining six will vote YES.

But in any event, calling it a draw is no less helpful for pro-covenanters. The point is, there has been no overwhelming endorsement for it: it remains a contentious and highly divisive idea, and for that reason alone should be seen as a non-starter. The point of the covenant was to promote unity - it has done the opposite. As someone - Judith Maltby I think - said some days ago, you would never argue for women's ordination to the episcopate on the basis of these numbers.

Posted by Jim at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 7:03pm GMT

Dr. Seitz, the current listing of the AC membership shows 44. I was including the possible split in Cono Sur. I do wish you were more careful with your use of the word "wrong."

I find your concept that the covenant is for the whole communion even as the whole communion doesn't sign on to be unintelligible. I mean, I literally don't understand what that you mean.

No one I know of is trying to "coopt" the saying of Yes by others. What I am saying is that the Covenant will not be a document for the whole communion, but for those members of the communion who adopt it (see 4.2.3, for instance). It will be yet another "Jerusalem Declaration" or "GAFCON" --- a subset group of members of the Communion -- perhaps if you are correct even a majority. But they will not speak for, or govern, the life of the Anglican Communion as a whole, though they may have some influence on it -- if that's what you mean -- and I'm guessing -- I think that a very imprecise application of the phrase. And if a large majority do not adopt / accede / subscribe, the "Anglican Communion Covenant" will simply less and less be in compliance with the Trade Descriptions Act.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 8:16pm GMT

The AnglicanDownUnder blog has an interesting prognostication. He uses the terms 'Anglican Association' and 'Anglican Communion' to describe the portions of global anglicanism that want a 'federation' and those a 'communion', and the role of the covenant in sifting this out.

Posted by c.r.seitz at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 8:30pm GMT

By rejecting the covenant we are saying that the Anglican family worldwide has no right to interfere in the affairs of a national church.

So we see TEC dispossessing traditionalist congregations of their church buildings and removing their clergy and we say that's OK - business as usual.

We are equivalent to the Russians - only saying in religious terms what they are saying in political terms - that the world community cannot interfere in the affairs of a sovereign state - the Syrian government must be allowed to treat its people as it wishes.

So much for our Christian sense of responsibility for others.

Posted by Peter at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 9:46pm GMT

TEC does not dispossess congregations of their church buildings and remove their clergy because they are traditionalists. We have some cases where we have done such things because they were schismatics.

Posted by Nathan at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 10:24pm GMT

"What I am saying is that the Covenant will be a document for those members of the communion who adopt it" -- right you are.

Obviously Gafcon is not a grouping equivalent to this. It was generated by a group acting on its own energies and commitments, such as they are.

The Covenant--by contrast--is/was an initiative brought forth from the Communion Instruments. It has never said of itself that it is a 'subset' initiative. Indeed the ABC was fully behind it.

But I don't think this is unclear. It is fully 'intelligible.' I suspect you know that.

Posted by c.r.seitz at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 11:28pm GMT

"TEC does not dispossess congregations of their church buildings and remove their clergy because they are traditionalists. We have some cases where we have done such things because they were schismatics."

Or because they were thieves.

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 11:36pm GMT

Tony Fitchett said: "When Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia meets in General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui, in July, the Covenant will almost certainly be rejected, as two of the three Tikanga [and 3 out of the 7 dioceses in the other Tikanga] have voted against it."

I was aware that te Tikanga Maori had said no, and I was aware that three of the seven dioceses in Tikanga Paheka (do I have the name right?) had said no (with two, IIRC having said yes and two others having said nothing).

Tony's comment implies that Tikanga Pasifika (do I have the name right?) has also said no. Can someone confirm this - ideally with a link?

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Monday, 26 March 2012 at 3:41am BST

While still mainating that the granular analysis of agregate voting trends is merely an interesting factoid, I will note that such analysis - even that by my Canadian colleague Archdeacon Perry - has not to date taken into the consideration of the heavily pro-Covenant votes in several dioceses where synod members were provided with only pro-Covenant background materials and / or where the synod debates were manipulated by the inclusion of extended pro-Covenant apologia before the beginning of the formal debate. Lichfield and Blackburn are two of the obvious examples.

In Lichfield, only pro-Covenant material was distributed and a request for a mailing list so that Covenant opponents could mail material at their own expense was denied. Bishop Kings was given the first 30 minutes of a 90 minute debate, followed by a 10 minute pro-Covenant speech by the mover of the motion to ratify. Thus it was just short of halfway through the debate before anyone critical of the Covenant was allowed to utter a syllable. The remaining 50 minutes was more or less evenly split between pro and anti speakers, meaning the aggregate breakdown was 65 minutes pro and 25 minutes anti.

Similarly in Blackburn this past weekend, the 70 allocated minutes began with a 30 minute pro-Covenant presentation by Canon Elizabeth Paver, followed by ten minutes of questions and 30 minutes of debate. Even assuming the question period and the debate times were balanced, the aggregate works out to 50 minutes in favour of the Covenant and 20 minutes against. (I don't have information on what material was distributed in Blackburn.)

We have cause to believe that variations on this theme occured in many - and possibly most - of the dioceses which have so far voted yes.

In analysing the aggregate voting data, the results of these synods need to be tagged with a metaphorical asterisk, much like Roger Maris's single season home run record.

Finally, I will have to firmly deny Mr. Guyer's claim that the Covenant's opponents do not want (suck faux populism) " the voice of the people."

While we have certainly campaigned for the defeat of the Covenant, all we have ever demanded is that those making decisions be provided with full and balanced information. The "voice of the people" is only meaningful when the people have not been manipulated by propagandists.

Unlike the Covenant's supporters, we have never been afraid of a full and fair debate. It is only the Covenant's proponents that have tried to treat the people like mindless sheep to be herded rather than faithful Christians to be respected.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Monday, 26 March 2012 at 4:20am BST

Surely it is the " traditionalists" who are dispossesing themselves of their buildings. All their clergy agreed to be ordained in a Church, where they knew that doctrinal authority is vested in General Convention.

Its the old maxim, "let the buyer beware."

To try and steal those buildings under the pretence of rejecting doctrinal innovation is really tragic and self deception.

Furthermore the so called American traditionalsits are riddled with divorce and re-marriage and even ACNA ordains women as priests.

Posted by Robert ian Willliams at Monday, 26 March 2012 at 6:53am BST

It strikes me that the predominant tone of the no-to-covenanters is one of relief rather than of triumphalism. I don't think many of those in favour of the covenant realise how threatening many people found it. As Jim and other have pointed out, the Clergy and Laity are pretty evenly divided. Moreover, given the reports of the selective information fed to some of the earlier Diocesan synods, it is legitimate to ask if everyone quite knew what they were voting for. The inescapable fact on the ground is that the Covenant has divided the CofE and that, even if the margin of the no votes is slim, it would be wrong to introduce such a major development when there is so little support.

I would love the Communion to continue but I think that Father Ron is right and that it has divided into three parts. Perhaps we have to accept this and find a way to make it work as a different kind of communion. I was deeply shocked by the ArchBp of Nigeria's response to ++Rowan's resignation. I do have to ask myself if I can be fully in Communion with a church whose former leader was reported as saying that gay people were like dogs. ArchBp Akinola is reported to have said that countries like the UK should not impose their culture on African countries. That cuts both ways. Other countries should not impose their culture on the UK and other western countries.

Given that the communion might be thought of as having its roots in the British Empire, I wonder if we are not seeing the last gasp of that empire? Even the Commonwealth doesn't have the purchase it once had. An awful lot of the current manoeuvrings seem to me to motivated more by a search power than anything else - and I don't mean the power of the Holy Spirit.

I think a period of quiet reflection and prayer is called for before any further initiatives.

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Monday, 26 March 2012 at 8:39am BST

Peter, we're the ***Episcopal*** Church, not a Congregationalist one (whether a given parish has a congregation that is High, Low, Broad, whatever).

"We are equivalent to the Russians - only saying in religious terms what they are saying in political terms - that the world community cannot interfere in the affairs of a sovereign state - the Syrian government must be allowed to treat its people as it wishes."

Oh come on, hyperbole much? This is an insult to the Syrian dead. Pray for the Syrians, don't use them to make a point in our petty internecine church politics.

Posted by JCF at Monday, 26 March 2012 at 9:38am BST

"Obviously Gafcon is not a grouping equivalent to this." ......

Oohh! I don't know about that.

Several years ago I took a briefing from the ACO on how the ABC and the ACO were all in favour of regional and interest networks within the Anglican Communion and I was told that already some members of the communion worked more closely with others and that GAFCON was just such a group .....

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 26 March 2012 at 11:35am BST

Dr. Seitz, I appreciate your clarification. It was not in fact clear to me from your earlier comments that it was the _proposal_ phase of the Covenant from which you were deriving its "Anglican Communion" character.

My point is that it is the _adoption_ phase which will ultimately determine its future role in and of the Anglican Communion. And at this point I maintain that its future role will be partial and not total. You were, after all, last week I think it was, claiming that a defeat in England would have serious effects upon the Archbishop as an instrument of unity, and I think that is true; though as I said at the time I did not see that as necessarily a diminishment but a liberation to act impartially. How this will all play out with the other Instruments remains to be seen. Ultimately, if few other province adopt, and even some who have adopted withdraw (a lively possibility, especially considering that Southern Africa has not definitively adopted) the actual impact of the Covenant will likely be minimal. If many adopt, the impact will be greater.

The next decade or so will be very revealing.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Monday, 26 March 2012 at 2:41pm BST

In the meantime - I guess most Provinces will carry on doing what they have always done - to promote, in the best way they believe to be possible - the Good News of God's love shown to us in the Person of Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer. Thank God we don't have to 'sign up' to a confessional agreement to do that. "For God so loved the world....etc".

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:44am BST
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