Jonathan Clatworthy on the Anglican Covenant—A Reply to Andrew Goddard

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The most obvious disagreement is whether provinces will be subordinated to the international authorities and threatened with punishment if they do not obey. We wrote that the Covenant

was first proposed by the Windsor Report in 2004 to put pressure on the North American churches, after a diocese in the USA had elected an openly gay bishop and a diocese in Canada had approved a same-sex blessing service. Opponents had no legal way to expel the North Americans, so the Covenant is designed to achieve the same result by redefining the Anglican Communion to exclude them.

Goddard considers this a 'highly implausible spin'. He does not explain why, but he does reply:

In fact, the Windsor Report's stated aim was that a covenant 'would make explicit and forceful the loyalty and bonds of affection which govern the relationships between the churches of the Communion' (para 118).

Our point exactly! How one can force people to be loyal and affectionate has been one of the great puzzles of the project; clearly any talk of force is obviously meaningless without some kind of punishment.

Later, repeating the denial of any subordination or punishment, Goddard describes how the current text was established:

In fact, the Windsor Report's stated aim was that a covenant 'would make explicit and forceful the loyalty and bonds of affection which govern the relationships between the churches of the Communion' (para 118).

Our point exactly! How one can force people to be loyal and affectionate has been one of the great puzzles of the project; clearly any talk of force is obviously meaningless without some kind of punishment.

Later, repeating the denial of any subordination or punishment, Goddard describes how the current text was established:

There was substantial resistance to the idea that there should be any development of a body which could be seen to be exercising universal jurisdiction in Anglican polity. Anglicans wished to keep the autonomy of their Churches. Secondly, it became clear that the processes of adoption of the Covenant would be immensely complicated if the Covenant were seen to interfere with or to necessitate a change to the Constitution and Canons of any Province... Section Four of the RCD is therefore constructed on the fundamental principle of the constitutional autonomy of each Church.

This too accords with our argument: the reason why the Covenant restricts its punitive proposals to the relationships between provinces is that legally it cannot do more.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Analysis- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican CovenantAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* TheologyEschatology

3 Comments Posted November 21, 2010 at 3:29 pm

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