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Bishop Alan on Communion after Covenant

Bishop Alan on Communion after Covenant

Bishop Alan Wilson’s blog has a few now-that-the-dust-has-cleared type thoughts on the question of how to proceed as the Anglican Communion in light of the news out of the Church of England concerning the rejection of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

(It leads naturally enough to a new question: Is “rejected by a majority of synods” really the same thing as “utterly off the table for all of England and the rest of the Communion?” That’s our next story of the day, so stay tuned. For now, Bishop Alan:)

We could try to defibrillate the whole thing hoping that somehow this process that has just split the Church of England down the middle will somehow transmute into a great Focus of Unity. That way madness lies — stupidity that repeats the same mistake over again, hoping for a different result. Another very English option is to pretend nothing really happened, sit on our hands going “ho-hum” whilst, as Covenant supporters sometimes prognosticated, the sky falls in, or not.

Wouldn’t it be healthier to acknowledge reality? Take this as an invitation to look at the painful image in the mirror. Bishops were largely out of touch. In spite of, nay, because of our infantilised “Daddy knows best” culture, Daddy got it wrong. The troops did not buy a well-intentioned attempt to lick us into denominational shape. Much heavy covenant sell failed to persuade. It did not explain why or how bureaucratic accountability would improve on a free relationship of equals. Always start with “why?”


In the cold light of day, much argumentation for the Covenant really was similarly barmy. I still don’t know whether I’m a bunch of grapes or a billiard ball. Neither do I care. Nothing in it would have made the slightest bit of difference to potential refuseniks on either side of any question that really mattered to them. The tone and content of Archbishop Okoh’s reaction to Rowan’s retirement makes this abundantly plain, as well as conveying the sheer crappiness of all he’s gone through these past ten years. The letter explains why people thought something had to be done, but also why this could never have worked.

All we are left with, as a diverse family of churches, is to talk with people directly rather than about them. This could be a great opportunity to think through the implications. The Anglican communion works wonderfully well as a network of people, but makes a lousy vatican-on-sea. If top-down doesn’t work, what does? It may be time to take stock, some would say grow up. But how?


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