The Rev. Frederick Quinn has presented some good reasons for rejecting this draft proposal in the current issue of Episcopal Life. Here's part of it:
Like its predecessors, the Tanzanian covenant of February 19, 2007, is a fatally flawed document, long, dull and tediously obvious, except for its invidious final provisions, which change the character of the historic Anglican deliberative process and turn the Primates into a judicial body. The Covenant Design Group, in Trollopian language, says the document emerged from a specific, "stressful" setting, meaning the place of gays and lesbians in the wider communion. But that matter is addressed nowhere in the document.I agree with this editorial,especially points 2 and 3. If we grant the Primates this kind of power, they will never give it up. And that, my friends, will be the end of Anglicanism.
Four general comments highlight the document's problems:
1. Despite the "everybody wants a covenant" language introducing the document in the Anglican Communion website, nobody really wants a covenant except proponents of centralized authority.
2. Article 5 misrepresents newly named "Instruments of Communion" by changing three loosely organized, collegial consultative bodies -- the Lambeth Conference, Primates' Meeting, and Anglican Consultative Council -- into quasi-judicial agencies.
3. Article 5.5 then makes the primates judges, and Article 5.6 adds the door-slamming clause, giving primates policy and legal control over what they decide are controversial decisions of autonomous provinces, sharply changing the robust regional diversity that has been our distinctive hallmark for centuries.
4. What is amazing is, although the triggering issue for the larger dispute is sex, the proposed remedy is a power coup. How unAnglican can you get? The document should be rejected outright.
What then? At several key historical junctures, Anglicans with sharply differing viewpoints sought to make common cause through sets of issue-oriented essays. Some of the most remembered volumes include Lux Mundi (1889), Foundations (1912) and Soundings (1962).
If a set of essays was commissioned on the current issues facing the Anglican Communion -- what would the subject matter be? Obvious topics are: the religious impact of postcolonial globalization, the authority and use of Scripture, religious education, the role of bishops (including the spread of Episcopal poaching) and the place of women, homosexuals and other marginalized peoples in the church.
Such essays should be accompanied by a media educational plan using the Internet, electronic communications facilities such as Trinity Church, Wall Street, employs, and printed educational materials for global use. The articles would represent a set of markings, a roadmap rather than a final destination. They are not for a moment intended to substitute for other forms of robust non-covenantal dialogue at all levels within our broader polity.
Covenants historically were rejected by Anglicanism, as they should be today. It is time to heed the restless prodding of the Holy Spirit and move the wider church to a fuller sense of witness and mission.
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