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Rowan flogging dead CovenantDo as I say – not as I do.

I’m squandering precious time and energy on the “Anglican Covenant”.

Don’t.

I have regularly joked: what would happen if the CofE didn’t sign up to the “Anglican Covenant”? Clearly the drafters of the “Anglican Covenant” were so cocksure of CofE support that such an option isn’t even envisioned as possible in it. I was joking – Okay. But then I noticed that the CofE, the established church, where the bishops are appointed by the Prime Minister and thereby many of them automatically become Members of Parliament (!), wasn’t risking going to Parliament with this “Covenant”; wasn’t even risking seeking a 2/3 majority in its “own” General Synod! Actually, the CofE isn’t so sure the “Covenant” will pass there…

And now this weekend it was the turn of four diocesan synods to vote on the “Covenant”. And all four rejected it! Leicester, Salisbury, Portsmouth, and Rochester. Not even the memory of Nazir-Ali in Rochester carried the pro-Covenant day. And it’s the clergy that are voting against the “Anglican Covenant”. With only pro-Covenant propaganda being emitted from the Anglican Communion Office, it is the clergy who are clearly putting energy into researching both sides of the story.

The ecclesiology of the Tony Blair-chosen Archbishop of Canterbury has come in for some battering in the women bishops debate. Although no one apparently has yet translated his latest speech into English, Rowan Williams appears unwilling to throw himself fully into the fullness of the catholic church being present in each diocese. The ecclesiology which hankers after an international “universal church” (a sort of international super-church, rather than a communion of dioceses) undergirds the “Anglican Covenant”. It’s a perfectly fine alternative ecclesiology, and has a perfectly fine exemplar in Roman Catholicism.

So far five CofE dioceses have voted in favour of the “Anglican Covenant”: Lichfield
Durham
Europe
Bristol
Canterbury

And ten (count them 10!) have voted against:
Truro
Birmingham
Wakefield
St Edmundsbury & Ipswich
Derby
Gloucester
Salisbury
Portsmouth
Rochester
Leicester

The CofE has 44 dioceses. The Covenanters need another 18 dioceses to vote yes in order to get the “Anglican Covenant” back onto their General Synod floor!

Certainly, the Archbishop of Canterbury will be applying lots of back-room pressure. But he may yet overplay his hand…

Even if the CofE ultimately does sign up the “Anglican Covenant” (or affirming, adopting, acceding to, preambling, or adapting it) no one will now be able to say that there is any consensus involved in such a decision.

Christchurch diocesan motion

Meanwhile, back here, the Christchurch diocese will vote on the Covenant at a special synod meeting on April 21. The motion before us is:

“That this Synod, 1. Affirms the Covenant in principle; 2. Supports Parts 1 to 3; 3. Supports in principle the adoption of Part 4.”

The Christchurch diocesan synod motion was drafted by a high-level group of pro-Covenant people in our diocese. Its wording is as clear and meaningful as the Covenant it supports (a regular contention of the pro-Covenant group is that those against it just don’t understand it!). Even our diocese’s most clamorous* pro-Covenant campaigner in New Zealand does not support our diocesan motion.

The debate about the meaning of the wording of this motion is consistent with adding another layer to debating the meaning of the Covenant which further adds a layer to debating the actual issues.

The result of passing this motion will be as useful as the actual Covenant itself.

Meanwhile there is discussion about the future of our church buildings to be had – we have just closed our 25th church building,….

So go back and read my first few lines again. Then do as I say – not as I do.

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