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The ACO and the politics of being a staff member

The ACO and the politics of being a staff member

The Anglican Communion Office released a statement from Canon Kenneth Kearon, the communion’s secretary general, on Saturday shortly after the Church of England rejected the proposed Anglican Covenant claiming that eight provinces had approved the covenant, and suggesting that the verdict in England was not final—even though that church, under its own rules, cannot take up the issue again until 2015.


The treatment of the news that the mother church of Anglicanism had rejected the covenant—a fact that isn’t actually overtly acknowledged in the release—stands in contrast to the sort of releases the ACO has produced when other provinces have approved the covenant. (And Simon Sarmiento suggests that Canon Kearon is inflating the numbers of those who have actually signed on.) Throw in the videos that the ACO released, in which members of the Communion’s faith and order group overtly lobbied on behalf of the covenant, and it becomes clear that the communion office has decided that it has a horse in this race and is attempting to influence the outcome in its favor. This seems inappropriate to me, but I have begun to doubt my judgment on these matters because I also believe that we’ve got something similar going on in the Episcopal Church regarding restructuring, but I have rung that bell before to little effect.

I have served on a diocesan staff, and one thing my bosses were very clear about was that we could not take a public stand on legislation that came before our convention. That seemed a proper standard to me, but perhaps I am wrong. Or perhaps there are other issues involved here that I am overlooking. Help me out.

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tobias haller

Marin, I concur completely. I tend to think the process, starting in Toronto, was driven largely by Western post-colonial guilt. Hence pious incoherences like “mutual responsibility in interdependence.” Things that depend only on each other fall in the ditch!

The Covenant was an effort to hold on to an idea that had already begun to unravel, as the false foundation on which it was built quickly crumbled.

Martin Reynolds

I know it is me banging on my old drum again, but the process from Toronto on was led by American The Revd Canon John L. Peterson who was Kearon’s predecessor.

The Anglican Church Project was hardly invisible – and North American bishops and others played a leading role in its development.

But I think it important to note that it is the Covenant that gives legitimacy to the so called Instruments, here in my country we only have any constitutional relationship with the ACC http://www.lambethconference.org/resolutions/1968/1968-69.cfm .

All the other developments have no standing here and so it has been difficult to argue that they have even moral authority.

Without the Covenant they have nothing.

Ann Fontaine

I think it would have been a better communication if it had been noted that the voting was on the Covenant (rather than the rather obscure introduction) and if the status of the document around the world had been noted. The way it reads – it seems like propaganda because it only presents those who have accepted it or subscribed to it. And really subscribe was not an option -so they did not accept either. Here is a site that gives the current status.

I do think people on all sides are acting in good faith – just some amount of blinders due to being immersed in it for so long.

Jim Naughton

Tobias, I think the faith and order people are entitled to express their opinion. I don’t know that they are entitled to spend the communion’s money on making and distributing a video expressing their opinion.

tobias haller

John, it did not appear to me that Canon Kearon was taking sides in his status report. He is charged with monitoring the process of adoption, and wanted to address — in I think a fairly nuanced way — the suggestion that disapproval in England meant the Covenant was dead. It is not, in fact dead, even in England. Even before 2015 other things could happen.

It seems to me that Kearon is trying to indicate that the decision of other provinces to adopt is their decision to make, and that they should act with that in mind. I don’t see his letter as a particular “endorsement” but as a status report.

I think it fair to point out he does qualify the S.A. adoption in the list of “adopters” — and as a general list it is accurate as far as it goes. Since it only concerns those who adopt it, there is no need to list those who have not done so.

The Faith and Order group do in fact support the Covenant. They are a committee created by the Instruments, and are expressing their opinion.

I wish we could chill a bit on this. Being in the ACO these days is not an easy job.

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