Covenant trails as voting nears halfway mark in C of E

Alan Perry has done us the service of gathering the results of the voting on the proposed Anglican Covenant in the Church of England. It is too early to predict the covenant's defeat, but perhaps not too early to begin wondering what will become of the document if, in fact, it is defeated in the Church of England.

Will that stop the adoption process in the wider Communion in its tracks, or will the Church of England have to endure the "second tier" status once predicted for the Episcopal Church? And if so, how can the Archbishop of Canterbury continue to function as the leader of the communion while leading a church that might conceivably be excluded from certain gatherings of governing bodies?

Here are the numbers:

Twenty one of the Church of England's 44 dioceses have voted. Thirteen opposed the covenant. Eight favor it. Supporters need 23 affirmative votes to have the matter referred to the church's General Synod, where its prospects may be somewhat better than they have been thus far in the dioceses.

Alan Perry's breakdown reveals that it is clergy and lay people who are closely divided on the merits of the covenant while bishops are strongly supportive.

Bishops: 84.2% for, 10.5% against, 5.3% abstentions
Clergy: 45.8% for, 48.9% against, 5.4% abstentions
Laity: 50.3% for, 43.9% against, 5.8% abstentions

Overall: 49.1% for, 45.3% against, 5.6% abstentions

Comments (2)

I think it very important to note that the "overall" figure may be interesting -- insofar as it shows that among those eligible to vote the Covenant has not achieved a majority, thereby indicating anything like a consensus that it is a good idea -- but that the voting in synods if by orders, and resolutions must be adopted in all three orders within a diocese so as to determine the diocesan "vote." The real "vote" at this point, in terms of the process, remains at 13 against, 8 for. I suspect there will be efforts to "spin" the raw numbers -- as often happens with votes by orders and votes of the electoral college -- but the voting that counts is the vote of the diocese as a whole, which requires a majority in each of the three orders. This is an essentially conservative process, and surely appropriate for something portrayed as "way forward" for Anglicanism.

The covenant has been designed to intentionally marginalize synodical government in provinces like TEC and Canada. It's based on the hegemony as unity model. It favors hierarchy. Despite intervention and spin by Anglican Communion office bureaucrats, it has already failed because it has resulted in controversy and contention among dioceses over at mother corp. If it does pass across the pond, it will be a Pyrrhic victory.

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