Monday, 4 August 2008

Do bishops want a covenant?

When the bishops at the Lambeth Conference got round to their formal discussions about the Covenant, opinions were divided; but the impression I got from those I spoke to (and this seems to have been the impression of the media) was that opinion was coalescing around two points.
1. There will have to be a Covenant. This is partly because Archbishop Rowan Williams has invested so heavily in it, and many of his supporters will support him even if privately they think otherwise. Others claim it’s the only way to hold the Communion together.
2. Not all Anglicans will sign up to the Covenant. Some will refuse. There is much speculation about who the refusers will be and what they will do.
Put these two points together and we get an interesting result. We need a Covenant to keep us together, and it won’t keep us together. Just remind me why we are to have one...
It’s an absurdity. How to explain it?
The key is that word ‘us’. Your perspective determines who needs to be kept together and who counts as dispensable. To some, GAFCON are on the dispensable fringe; to others the Americans are.
Which means it’s a political game; not so much an attempt to discern the will of God, more a power struggle. This surely explains why there is precious little serious analysis of the theological positions and astonishingly little concern for gays and lesbians themselves.
Jonathan Clatworthy

1 comment:

  1. This is a good analyzed point from someone who has been on the ground, as it were.

    Brazil has already rejected the idea of a Covenant and others may too.

    There are two good background reading books on this:
    Mark Chapman's 'The Anglican Covenant' (Mowbray, 2008) and Jonathan Clatworthy's own book 'Liberal Faith in a divided Church' (O books, 2008)

    Incidently, there are some like me who agree that it's a political game and effectively the whole issue has been 'put out to dry'. Procrastination can be a virtue and in its time honoured way may actually work and produce a solution.

    That's why some 'FOCAS' primates have been calling for a decision by May 2009 - see article on blogsite 'Not the same stream' - they know otherwise a forgiving consensus will emerge because that ultimately is what Anglicanism is.

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