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Release the Constitution and Canons report on the covenant

Release the Constitution and Canons report on the covenant

On Friday night, Episcopal News Service reported that the sub-committee of Executive Council charged with formulating that body’s response to the proposed Anglican Covenant had received a report from the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons, advising the subcommittee on whether adoption of the covenant would require changes in our church’s constitution and canons.

The subcommittee has declined to make this report public. This decision is indefensible (and perplexing, there are a lot of smart people on the subcommittee). It needs to be reversed.

Because news reported on the weekends sometimes gets lost, and because the report has still not been released, we thought we should revisit this issue today.

If adoption of the covenant requires constitutional changes, the Episcopal Church would be unable to sign the document until 2015 because such require the approval of two successive General Conventions. And this assumes that said changes could be formulated, debated and passed at the convention in 2012.

The sub-committee is in possession of a report on this matter from the group whose opinion on this matter is probably the most authoritative in the Church. Yet they will not release it because, if their chair is to be believed, they are afraid that the church will jump to conclusions.

This is a faulty argument on two counts: 1) it is likely that the only conclusion people would jump to is that the Standing Commission has written an opinion, and 2) in representative governing structures such as ours, representatives are not allowed to withhold information from the governed because they think we may respond in ways they find unpalatable.

The information in that report—which the sub-committee received several months ago—is of great interest and importance to members of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. It needs to be released to the wider public. We hope the Executive Council will publish the document immediately. We are happy to help.

Please send a copy to


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Ellen Tillotson

HUH? Refusing to make public the church’s work? Until General Convention? Until?


What are we afraid of?


It is interesting- and quite telling- that a steady stream of self-justifying and defensive comments are now being issued from Executive Council members eager to tamp down the growing calls for the report’s release.

Cyril Tomlinson

It is difficult to hide the increasingly magisterial posture being taken by the House of Bishops and the Executive Council alike. They are *elected* representatives of the faithful, not an elite caste of rulers sent to decide our fates in smoke-filled rooms!

Jim Naughton

I agree Scott. Lots of good people.

Dcn Scott Elliott

Executive Council has a lot of good and trustworthy people on it — which makes this failure of candor all the more surprising and distressing.

I would very much like to hear from one or two of them what the rationale is for holding this in pectore.


Coming on the heels of the openness of the Anglican Church of Canada in releasing their report on the legal ramifications of the document for their church, the secrecy of EC looks bad.

June Butler

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