In a hyperlink-studded documentation of the "tawdry" history behind the Covenant, the Guardian's Savitri Hensman concludes,
In power-play of the type the Covenant encourages, global church politics will trump love, justice and even logic. This is a poor substitute for freedom in Christ.By "even logic" she explains,
Hensman gets right to the point in the first two paragraphs of her post:
The Archbishop of Canterbury urged that breaching moratoria should be punished, and in June Anglican Communion Office secretary general Kenneth Kearon removed Episcopal Church members from some committees. Nigeria, despite blatant border-crossing, faced no such penalties. When questioned, Kearon claimed, "we are a voluntary communion and have no [ability] to act against a province"!
The Church of England's House of Bishops is urging it to accept [*] an Anglican Communion Covenant. This would give top leaders of overseas churches more power over the C of E and (strictly in theory) vice versa. The Archbishop of Canterbury has been a champion of greater centralism among Anglicans worldwide, supposedly to strengthen unity. But recent events have exposed the tawdry reality behind talk of "interdependence" and "bonds of affection".
The Communion has long been a family of churches in different parts of the world, with a common heritage of faith but able to make their own decisions. The 1878 Lambeth Conference resolved that "the duly certified action of every national or particular Church, and of each ecclesiastical province (or diocese not included in a province), in the exercise of its own discipline, should be respected by all the other Churches" and "no bishop or other clergyman of any other Church should exercise his functions within that diocese without the consent of the bishop thereof".
Those of us Anglicans on this side of the Atlantic will be forgiven for not understanding their polity anymore than they understand ours. But how can the C of E HOB recommend prompt passage of the Covenant on a simple majority vote? After all, without intending to make that point during debate over putting reform of the House of Lords up for majority vote, the Bishop of Leichester yesterday said, "the established place of the Church of England is deeply woven into the constitution and unpicking it at any one point will have numerous consequences in other areas of our national life."
How then could the Church of England approve a Covenant that makes it subject to the discipline of a non-UK body? In actual application to the C of E would the Covenant simply be null and void even though it approved it?
[*] 1.On the Anglican Communion Covenant, the House agreed
(a) to commend it for adoption by the Church of England;
(b) to invite the Business Committee to schedule the beginning of the adoption process for the inaugural Synod in November 2010, with a view to final approval in February 2012;
(c) not to propose special majorities for its adoption; and
(d) to authorise the House’s Standing Committee to oversee the production of necessary material for the Synod.