Thursday, June 01, 2006

Slouching Towards a Structural Solution to a Pastoral Problem

The National Catholic Reporter has reprinted the idea that the ABC favors a two-teir Anglican Communion, one for "reasserters" and one for "reappraisers" (in the current parlance). I thought the report was shown to be bogus, but it still won't die. That may have been because the Telegraph report on 5/19, which the NCR picked up today may have been a leak which contained a nugget of truth.

The Anglican Communion News Service has published the full text of a document Towards an Anglican Covenant. If you have not digested the Windsor Report before General Convention, then start eating because I think this document might supercede Windsor in importance.

Relative to the NCR/Telegraph news report, the following two paragraphs are of interest.
  • In principle, therefore, the Covenant could identify where legitimate differences of view over matters even as important as, for example, the ordination of women could be recognised. In doing so, it could indicate how such “agreement to disagree” on other issues might be reached, and what processes might be used to foster trust and unity during periods of extended or sensitive discernment. It could set out strategies for protecting conscientious objectors to such developments within an authentically Anglican understanding of catholicity, and propose mechanisms for handling fundamental differences of view.

  • Nevertheless, it will not do to say “There is one Anglican Covenant for this group and another Anglican Covenant for that group”. For the Covenant concept to work, there comes a point at which Provinces and Churches will have to say about the Covenant that they will “take it or leave it”.
  • This document is, of course, a much longer one. The purpose is to detail in broad terms the framework within which a proposed Anglican Covenant might develop. These two paragraphs (#30 and #31) seem to support some parts of the story in the Telegraph from May 19, echoed in the NCR, and put to rest others.
    What is left unsaid is if a member of the Anglican Communion choose to not abide with some future Anglican Covenant, or whose interpretation of same differs from all or most of the rest of other churches in the Communion, is that church still a member of the Anglican Communion or not. If the Telegraph story is right, living outside the Covenant may not neccesarily mean living outside the Communion. To which some conservatives (and some liberals) might rightly ask, "what's the point of having one?"
    Personally, I don't believe our problems will be solved structurally, as the Windsor Report seems to indicate. They will be solved through engagement and dialogue and slogging it out in the hard of living in Communion. To be fair, this is said in paragraph 5 of the above document. Having said that in paragraph 5, the writers dutifully go on to attempt a framework for a structural solution to pastoral problem.

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