Canada: What would happen if we say ‘no’ to the Anglican Covenant?

By Marites N. Sison
Posted May 30, 2012

[Anglican Journal] The Anglican Church of Canada needs more clarity around what the “relational consequences” would be for not adopting the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant.

This is one of the key messages that Council of General Synod (CoGS) members said the church must convey when the 15th Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meets in New Zealand Oct. 27-Nov. 7.

All member provinces of the Anglican Communion have been asked to report on progress made in response to the covenant, which has been recommended as a way of healing divisions triggered by debates over the issue of sexuality.

At their spring meeting May 24-27, CoGS members were asked to weigh in on what the report should contain. Bishops were asked for input at their spring meeting, noted Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Emerging from small group discussions, some CoGs members said there’s a lot of uncertainty around what happens when a province decides to adopt or not adopt the covenant. Critics of the covenant have long warned that adopting it could result in a two-tier Communion.

Although a comprehensive study guide on the covenant was prepared and recommended for Canadian Anglicans, “there’s not much interest in discussing it,” reported members of one CoGS discussion group. “We’re not sure why,” they added.

The House of Bishops would like to include a message that the church wants to continue being engaged in the life of the Communion, regardless of whether or not there’s a covenant. There are a variety of ways to do this, noted Hiltz, including companion relationships with overseas dioceses and taking part in the continuing indaba (purposeful dialogue) process.

In its written report to CoGS, the Anglican Communion Working Group provided an update of actions taken by some provinces regarding the covenant. The covenant has been approved by The Church of Ireland, The Anglican Church of Mexico, The Church of the Province of Myanmar, The Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, The Church of the Province of Southeast Asia, The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America, The Church in the Province of the West Indies, and The Church of Southern Africa (approved pending ratification at its next synod).

The covenant has been rejected by the bishops of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, and in the Church of England more than half of the dioceses have voted against it; the proposal cannot be reconsidered until a new General Synod is elected in 2015.

In addition, there are “huge challenges” for adoption of the covenant in the Anglican Province of New Zealand, Aotearoa and Polynesia, said the report. The Tikanga Maori have rejected the covenant and although it will still come before the province’s General Synod in July, adoption requires a majority vote.

The U.S.-based Episcopal Church will consider the covenant at its General Convention this July. The Anglican Church of Canada will decide whether to adopt or reject it at General Synod 2013.

— Marites N. Sison is staff writer for the Anglican Journal.


Comments (3)

  1. There is no such thing as an “Anglican” covenant.

  2. David L. Veal says:

    There can be only one result to this proposed, straight-jacket, reactionary, sectarian confession/directory: further division and break-up of the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church, under its present Constitution and Canons could not, and should not, possibly conform to the proposed Covenant. The Church is a family, a living changing organism, into which we are born by Baptism and in which we share a mutual trust in God as revealed in Scripture and Creed and in which we are nourished by Word and Sacrament. The Church’s authority is purely “auctoritas” and not “imperium,” so efforts to hold Christ’s Church together by power-based imperial edicts is futile.

  3. R.A. Garcia says:

    WOW! The inspired heads by the Holy Spirit did not foresee the consequences of their acts? As a matter of fact, the first direct consequence of TEC and the UCC was the resignation of +Rowan Cantuar. Both the USA’s episcopalians and Canada’s anglican have been the main opponents to the Covenant and, the members of the C. of E. are swimming in the rough waves of ambivalence. Thus, “a house divided against itself, shall not reign” …

    Those responsible or irresponsible of their acts will now have to acept and assume the historical consequences, without apologies or excuses. Live forever with it!

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