March 24, 2012

Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive; Ig-Nore the In-Con-Ve-Ni-Ent

As I noted earlier today—see “VE Day”—adoption of the Anglican Covenant by the Church of England was stopped in its tracks by votes in three dioceses that have made it impossible for the matter to receive enough votes to return to General Synod before 2015, if ever. Members of the No Anglican Covenant and its supporters—and, no doubt, many members of the Church of England at large—are jubilant over this development. (Our exuberance may have been excessive, given that we are still in the season of Lent.) It is widely believed that rejection of the Covenant by the Church of England will ultimately spell doom for the project that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has so ardently championed.

Faced with this momentous development within the Anglican Communion, the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS), which one naïvely might think is charged with disseminating such news throughout the world, today issued this strange story, titled “The Secretary General on the Anglican Communion Covenant”:
In the light of today’s news about the decisions of the dioceses of the Church of England about the Covenant I wanted to clarify the current situation across the Anglican Communion

In December 2009, as requested by the Standing Committee, I sent the text of The Anglican Communion Covenant to all the Member Churches of the Anglican Communion asking that they consider it for adoption according to their own internal procedures.

I have received notifications from eight Provinces that they have approved, or subscribed, the Covenant or, in the case of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, have approved pending ratification at the next synod which is usual procedure in that Province

These Provinces are:
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 South East Asia
The Anglican Church of Southern Africa
The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America
The Church in the Province of the West Indies

What next steps are taken by the Church of England is up to that Province. Consideration of the Covenant continues across the Anglican Communion and this was always expected to be a lengthy process. I look forward to all the reports of progress to date at the ACC-15 in New Zealand in November.

Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon
Remarkably, neither ACNS nor Canon Kearon deigns to tell us what “today’s news about the decisions of the dioceses of the Church of England about the Covenant” actually is. The story, presumably out of deference to or direct instructions from Rowan Williams, ignores the inconvenient news that the archbishop and his covenant project have suffered a major, perhaps fatal, blow. Also, there is no mention—there has never been mention from the archbishop or from ACNS—of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition, which has spearheaded opposition to the Covenant. Members of the Coalition have always been vaguely alluded to as those who have misunderstood the Covenant or—more insulting still—have failed to read it.

Ignoring the elephant in the room, Kearon puts on a happy face and lists all the Anglican churches that can possibly be construed as having adopted the Covenant, though, of course, some of these adoptions are problematic. (South East Asia’s action is particularly dubious.) This story is not, I’m afraid, intended to disseminate news.

In the words of the Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercy song, Kearon (and ACNS) has chosen to “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.” He has also chosen to “Ig-Nore the In-Con-Ve-Ni-Ent.” Let’s face it, ACNS should be the ACPS, the Anglican Communion Propaganda Service.

Anglicans deserve better. We have ceased to expect it.


  1. Lionel, I thought she had died in Oz but am delighted that you relocated her it the ACC office in north London.

  2. You might be interested in Andrew Goddard's response on Fulcrum --

    "The rejection of the covenant by the Archbishop’s own province and the continued disregard for the moratoria in North America creates a new and very serious situation. It means that the Anglican via media advocated by Rowan Williams – creating a framework to enable conversation and communion within agreed boundaries almost universally accepted across the Communion - looks like it has become a cul-de-sac."

    Bruce Robison

  3. I read Goddard’s piece yesterday. I agree with most of his analysis, but, as usual, I am unsympathetic to his recommendations.

    Everyone seems to agree that the Anglican Communion is changing, but there is little consensus of where we want it to go. Despite Rowan’s claim that the Covenant was the result of widespread consultation, it represents the views of a small number of influential people.

    We should be asking what the purpose of the Communion is and what mechanisms will facilitate achievement of that purpose. We have not had that conversation.

    In any case, the Anglican Covenant is not the answer.


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