Monday, June 11, 2007

Good, Solid and Godly Advice

Mark Harris has proposed "A Compact among the Churches of the Anglican Communion."

Read it here.

It is simple. Only one page long.

The compact affirms things that the members of the Anglican Communion have already affirmed.

The processes put forward already exist, and in which we all have participated in.

The document reaffirms the strengths of the Anglican Communion, but it also has the virtue of reestablishing the baseline of our common life. The proposed compact actually addresses one of the chief complaints of the reasserters, including the Anglican Communion Institute, Inc. and others, that there needs to be baseline understanding for us to have trust in our Communion.

Brad Drell over on his "Descants" has two criticisms: one general and one specific.

The general critique is that the proposed Compact seems undemocratic. This is a strange critique given that the reasserters and the radical conservatives in their movement want the Primates and Episcopal House of Bishops to unilaterally impose an extra-constitutional structure on the Episcopal Church in the form of a Primatial Council, have attempted to turn the Primates meeting and the Lambeth Conference into
into an authoritative teach bodies, and have worked to found structures that drive around the democratically elected conventions (both diocesan and General) of this Church.

He says that following this would make the Archbishop of Canterbury would become a pope to avoid a curia. It is hard for me to see how this is would be. The proposed Compact does not change the actual powers given Canterbury in the Communion, nor does it hand to the Anglican Consultative Council anything that does not already exist. Canterbury already determines who is in and out of communion with Canterbury. He already has made it clear that only Canterbury determines who is invited to Lambeth...and nothing has changed.

The autonomy of the members of the Communion guaranteed in the Compact balances whatever influence or power Canterbury has.

If anything, the Compact is more descriptive of what already is rather than proposing anything new. As I said, it resets the baseline. And this can go a long way towards building trust. As long as people and groups, or individual provinces, try to tinker with the process, interferes with each other common lives, and try to turn the instruments of communion into things that they are not, then we will not have trust.

The specific critique is worth a look, and that is how can new provinces be carved out of old provinces? One can make the case that the Central American churches might not have been become separate if this were in effect. This is worth talking about.

The proposal can use some fine-tuning, but it is a very solid, workable proposal. I hope that Harris, who is a member of Executive Council, has brought this before that group this week and that the House of Bishops might use this as a basis for their deliberations next fall when the Archbishop of Canterbury joins them.

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