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Bosco Peters on the pointlessness of the Covenant

Bosco Peters on the pointlessness of the Covenant

Bosco Peters, talking good sense as usual, makes some excellent points about the pointlessness of the Anglican Covenant:

The issue is homosexuals. The Covenant is not about homosexuals but is the touted solution. So we will sign the Covenant, which says absolutely nothing about homosexuals, on the now-public understanding that in signing it we are actually signing not what the Covenant says but our own “solution” to the homosexual issue. And for good measure: part (d) in contradiction to what the Covenant actually does say.

Part D articulates the following power grab:

that the Primates Meeting, being responsible for Faith and Order, should be the body to oversee the Anglican Communion Covenant in its implementation (Anglican Communion Covenant Section 3.1.4.IV and South-to-South Encounter, Fourth Trumpet, 21).

The Southeast Asians are pushing an outlandishly authoritarian new governing system for the Communion. Plain and simple. The document doesn’t say what they want it to, so they are pretending that it does.

Pluralist and Tobias Haller have also written about the covenant recently.


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To vote for a covenant that is, at best, useless simply to stay in the conversation is not something I could do. I’ve read the document several times, and it gets no better on further readings.

To vote for the covenant to “send a message” that we want to stay in the communion also seems wrong to me. We’d do better to send the message by saying what we mean and meaning what we say, that we want to remain part of the Anglican Communion. Let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no. We should adopt the covenant only if we think it is a good thing in itself.

As I see it, the church in Southeast Asia speaks the truth about the implications of the the covenant that others on the pro-covenant do not dare to speak, and we should pay attention.

The only “pro-covenant” vote that I’d consider acceptable is further study of the document and postponement of the vote on adoption until GC15 – if I had a vote, which I don’t.

June Butler

tobias haller

Richard, I do take your point, but the problem is that when we abdicate from the “power” others will be happy to take it up. Our presence, rather than our absence, allows us to be a part of bringing about a good that will not happen if we are not there. It is both a “Hillel” moment and not unlike “It’s a Wonderful Life” — we will leave a mighty big hole in the communion if we are not at the table to witness to what we believe. Me made a huge mistake by trying to play politics with Lambeth 98.1.10 — bishops voting for it because of the clause about “listening” — that sort of horse trading is not the way to go.

If we step aside from the Covenant it will be taken as a sign we do not want to be part of the Communion. That may not be what we mean, but that is how it will be read. And it will have a very negative impact on the Indaba Process, and lead both to our further marginalization and loss of voice on behalf of those who suffer the injustices from which we have only fairly recently escaped ourselves.

Richard E. Helmer


I get it. Truly! But the struggle, it seems to me, is already happening in so many other quarters, and the desire it appears in some parts since the late great controversy has begun is to “fix” or shut down conversation, not to engage with it. With SEA throwing down the gauntlet on Lambeth I.10 again, the covenant is becoming just another place for this power-laden dynamic to unfold, rather than a new place to engage fruitful (albeit painful and real), open conversation.

We do better, IMO, stepping away from anything that even smells juridical (=power) and stepping into processes that seek mutual understanding and recognition (i.e. Indaba.)

tobias haller

Richard, have you ever watched rabbis? Arguing about meaning is an important part of what it is to be a believer! That’s why I say it is all about hermeneutics — the “word” becoming “flesh” in action. As we debate the import of our life together, we can learn better to celebrate it. A covenanted life is not a life free from pain or struggle, it is a way through the pain and struggle together.

Richard E. Helmer

So I wonder, then, what virtue is there in sanctioning another document over which the Communion (or at least the signatory churches) will likely argue interpretation?

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