The Church of England General Synod has approved a resolution sending the proposed Anglican Covenant to the dioceses for consideration, approval or disapproval, and referral back to the Synod. (I note that in this process the C of E is significantly more like the US Federal Government than the Episcopal Church’s General Convention: TEC’s GC does not send resolutions or Constitutional amendments to the dioceses for action, but only for information.)
At the same time, the GAFCON - FCA Primates’ Council has rejected the Anglican Covenant as “well intentioned” but “fatally flawed” and aver that to support it would be “inappropriate.”
As I’ve noted before, the Covenant, like all forms of government, relies for its beneficence or malignancy upon the nature of the participants in it. It is well to recall that autocrats and oligarchs consider “democracy” to be little better than mob rule, and we know what happens when mobs rule.
The governmental form proposed by the Covenant, such as can be discerned amidst its imprecision and confusion of language, appears to be a kind of oligarchy. However, at this point, some of the potential oligarchs are stepping aside, or, to use the Windsor Phrase, “walking apart,” and not just from the Covenant, but from the other Instrument at the console of which they had heretofore had a seat on the bench.
Caiaphas said, “You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. — John 11:50-52When the Windsor Report was crafted, the minds of the framers no doubt had in mind that the walking apart would be done by the Western Provinces and those of a like mind. It appears that walking apart continues to be an activity favored by the Global Southerners and those of like mind with them. From the very beginning of tensions, it is they who absented themselves from the fellowship — from the fellowship of communion in both senses of that word: Calle y Altar, if you will — the communion both of Eucharist and Ecclesia (and ultimately, aren’t they one and the same, deep down: the Body of Christ?)
There remains a very real danger that we will not choose to walk together. Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart... As the primates stated in 2000, “to turn from one another would be to turn away from the Cross”, and indeed from serving the world which God loves and for which Jesus Christ died. — The Windsor Report ¶157
For the sake of Christ and of His Gospel we can no longer maintain the illusion of normalcy and so we join with other Primates from the Global South in declaring that we will not be present at the next Primates' meeting to be held in Ireland... — GAFCON - FCA Primates’ Council “Oxford Statement” (24 November 2010) ¶5
So the words of Windsor have proven true, though not likely in the sense, manner, or form intended by the authors. (So much for “original intent”!) I hasten to add this is not irrevocable. Things that are cast down can be raised up, and that which is of the old can come to partake of the new.
But whatever else can be said, the Anglican Communion is, as of this point in the shifting “now” of today — while it is called “today” — changed from what it was. What it will become, I can only hope that it will be better and more truly Christlike, based not on sacrificing others to placate a mob, but in offering itself for the life of the world.
Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG