LONDON —The No Anglican Covenant Coalition has criticized church officials for attempting to suppress honest discussion of the proposed Anglican Covenant.
"Instead of fostering a free and open discussion, church officials are trying to ensure that this radical document is endorsed without serious debate," according to Coalition Moderator, Dr Lesley Fellows. "Unfortunately, this is entirely consistent with what has been happening throughout the process."
The idea of an Anglican Covenant was first proposed officially in 2004 as a means of addressing divisions among the member churches of the Anglican Communion on matters ranging from human sexuality to the role of women. The current draft, which has been unilaterally designated as "final", has been referred to the Communion churches for adoption. The proposed Covenant establishes mechanisms that would have the effect of forcing member churches to conform to the demands and expectations of other churches or risk exclusion from the Communion. The draft must be either accepted without amendment or rejected entirely; no other options are allowed.
A series of decisions demonstrate a pattern of bias and manipulation designed to facilitate Covenant adoption:
November 2010 — When the Church of England debated the Anglican Covenant, official materials prepared for General Synod members made no reference to the concerns of critics or to the case against the Covenant. This was in marked contrast to what happened in 2007, when the House of Bishops agreed that an additional briefing document presenting opposing arguments should be circulated to all General Synod members in advance of the debate.
November 2010 — When Modern Church and Inclusive Church placed advertisements critical of the proposed Covenant in the church press, and when the No Anglican Covenant Coalition was launched, Covenant sceptics were criticized by senior church officials for going public and "campaigning" instead of remaining silent.
December 2010 — When the draft Covenant was formally referred to English dioceses, the referral document provided a random list of quotations from the last General Synod debate, with pro‐ and anti‐Covenant remarks mixed up together, followed by a purely pro‐Covenant presentation.
January 2011 — A request by Covenant opponents to the Business Committee of General Synod to circulate material setting out the case against the Covenant was rejected.
February 2011 — The Anglican Communion Office issued an official study guide and list of questions and answers for international use that neither provide a balanced look at the issues nor fairly represent the views of those critical of the Covenant.
"In the history of General Synod, we know of no instance where such an important matter (designated as Article 8) has been referred to diocesan synods without the case for both sides being clearly set out," according to Jonathan Clatworthy, General Secretary of Modern Church and a member of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition. "Both sides were represented regarding the most recent plans for unity with the Methodists. That was the case at every stage of the debate over the ordination of women as priests, and now, as bishops. The material concerning the Covenant falls far short of the ideals of justice, of the Anglican tradition. Even in the House of Commons, all sides of an issue are allowed to be heard."
The No Anglican Covenant Coalition website, noanglicancovenant.org, provides a wealth of resources for those seeking to understand the proposed Anglican Covenant. Material specifically designed for use by Church of England dioceses is also available from the Modern Church Web site at modernchurch.org.uk/resources/mc/cofe.
"Diocesan synods in the Church of England deserve to hear all sides of the debate," said Dr Fellows. "We are not afraid of an open, fair, and honest debate. If the supporters of the Covenant had a stronger case, perhaps they wouldn’t be either."
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¨So much of what has been driving the machinations of international Anglicanism over the past 15 years or so has been rooted in fear—fear of women, fear of LGBTQTS, fear of modernity, fear of post-modernity, fear of the loss of privilege, fear of the loss of power and influence.
People who are fearful do funny things.
As often, they will do scary things.
But the one thing that fearful people will consistently do is attempt to assert control.
For the fearful, every discussion inevitably degenerates into a metaphorical (and sometimes not so metaphorical) street fight.
Eventually, right and wrong become an irrelevance. The only thing that matters is how something affects the street fight, and whether or not it is good for “my side.”
Sadly, that is the point we’ve now reached in international Anglicanism, and in the deliberations on the proposed Anglican Covenant. Full and fair debate is no longer on the table—at least at the Anglican Communion Office, Lambeth Palace, or Church House in Westminster.
For those who surround the Archbishop of Canterbury, no quarter can be shown to those of us who dare to question the ineffable perfection of the arbitrarily “final” draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant.
Today’s news release (warning—.pdf) describes several ways in which those at “the centre” have conspired to ensure that the majority of General Synod and diocesan synod delegates in the Church of England never have the opportunity to hear the legitimate concerns that have been raised about the proposed Covenant.
•In November 2010, Church of England officials distributed background material on the proposed Anglican Covenant to General Synod members consisting entirely of pro-Covenant material and with no acknowledgement that there even might be contrary viewpoints.
•When Modern Church and Inclusive Church used paid advertisements in the church press to raise their concerns, the Archbishop of Canterbury himself used the bully pulpit of his presidential address to synod to condemn Covenant sceptics for “campaigning.”
•Throughout December and January, Church House officials stood firm in refusing to allow any prepared material to be distributed through official channels that was not 100 percent supportive of the Covenant. Indeed, the only concerns ever referenced were part of a document that used vapid “arguments” to suggest that any concerns were completely illegitimate and undeserving of a fair hearing. The one (arguable) exception to this was the distribution of the entire transcript of the Covenant debate at the November sitting of General Synod—and we all know how people love to pour over dry transcripts of debates and proceedings.
•More recently, the Anglican Communion Office has published a “Study Guide” which is nothing more than an intellectually barren puff piece, again with no serious engagement with any arguments against the Covenant.
The NACC news release did not bother to mention some of the more unseemly tactics coming from “the centre,” including a former ACO official accusing Covenant-sceptics of being fascists or current senior ACO officials claiming that critics had not read the Covenant draft. Round this out with the constant emotional blackmail that somehow to question the proposed Covenant is to be disloyal to the Archbishop and you have pretty much the entire pro-Covenant case, at least from official sources: marginalization, misrepresentation, malicious slander, and emotional blackmail.
Real leaders are not afraid of open debate.
Real leaders are not afraid of being contradicted.
Real leaders do not seek to be surrounded by yes-men and sycophants.
The Anglican Communion is dying for real leadership.
Archbishop Williams, I beg you: show real leadership on this. Call off the sycophants who serve you so ill and tell them you want a full, free, and fair debate on the merits of the proposed Anglican Covenant.
To win the debate any other way will discredit both the proposed Covenant and your legacy.¨ HERE (emphasis added by Leonardo Ricardo)
· Thanks to Revd Dr Lesley Fellows (England) +44 184 4239 268
· Thanks to Revd Canon Hugh Magee (Scotland) +44 133 4470 446
· Thanks to Dr Lionel Deimel (USA) +;1 412 512 9087
· Thanks to Revd Malcolm French (Canada) +;1 306 550 2277
· Thanks to Revd Lawrence Kimberley (New Zealand) +64 3 981 7384
|Resources for Anglicans for Comprehensive Unity HERE|