Canon Alan Perry continues to offer some of the more incisive and effective criticisms of the proposed Anglican Covenant. Yesterday he took his scalpel to the recent video in support of the document released by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
He notes, that contra the archbishop, the first three sections of the covenant are not unobjectionable statements of common belief:
The first three sections are, in my view, very controversial. … The biggest problem is that they purport to set out a coherent understanding of the Anglican faith and the Anglican way, against which future actions can be objectively measured (in section 4’s process).
That’s what the Archbishop seems to believe. But, with the greatest respect, he’s wrong. Sections 1 to 3 are very far from coherent, and although they may look attractive to a broad constituency because of the elasticity of their language which lends them to a variety of interpretations, that very elasticity of language will make it quite impossible to use them as the basis of anything remotely resembling an objective comparison with a proposed future action by a Church.
Oh, says the Archbishop, “what the Covenant proposes is not a set of punishments, but a way of thinking through what the consequences are of decisions people freely and in good conscience make.” Given the vagueness of the process, it’s not much of a way of thinking through anything. We don’t even know how to start the process. It’s that unclear. I challenge the Archbishop to demonstrate where the Covenant text says how a question is to be raised, as it quaintly puts what elsewhere would be called lodging a complaint. It’s simply not there in the text. ….
This is not about having scones and cream at tea, but no jam; it’s about not being invited to the popular parties because one has been sent to the naughty corner. It’s about churches being judged by an unfair and arbitrary process against unclear standards, and on the basis of that judgement, without any right of appeal, having their participation in the Instruments of Communion withdrawn.