News Analysis

By David W. Virtue
The US Presiding Bishop told a group of New Zealand Anglicans that a Covenant designed to draw the Anglican Communion together is nothing more than a type of “cheap grace” an “enlightenment response to postmodern” era disagreement. It is a legal move to avoid the harder “work of the heart”, of building relationships in the face of diversity, she said.

It will be interesting to see what Archbishop Rowan Williams has to say about Jefferts Schori’s attitude towards the Covenant that he and the Anglican Consultative Council have worked so assiduously and hard on, to try and achieve unity in the Anglican Communion.

It must doubly pain him since Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church of North America, an orthodox Anglican province which Williams does not recognize, and cannot, till Duncan applies for membership through the ACC (and he won’t), thinks the Covenant is a good thing and has signed, while Schori pours cold water on the whole idea of a Covenant.

But then Jefferts Schori probably feels the same way about the Lambeth resolution 1:10, the Lambeth Quadrilateral and the 39 Articles of Religion, all of which she relegates to the junk heap of history as a lot of “legal” stuff that doesn’t meet with her post-modern worldview that “building relationships in the face of diversity” is the a higher order of things. One doesn’t need any theology to do that. Just practice niceness, tolerance and diversity – the buzzwords of the new world Anglican order.

What she means by this, and would like to see happen, of course, is that if we all would just sit down and “listen” to Gene Robinson, Mary Glasspool, Susan Russell and Louie Crew about how marginalized they feel because we don’t accept their homoerotic behavior and pansexual worldview, we would immediately warm to them and then rise up, denounce our homophobia like capitalists at a communist rally declaring our guilt for wanting to own a home and then beat our chests, pulverizing ourselves into the ground with new found humility.

In The Episcopal Church, homosexual acceptance comes through a process of desensitization (see my article here) The idea is to keep everyone talking and talking and listening so the orthodox are simply worn down and agree. It’s the ecclesiastical equivalent of waterboarding…and it is working.

Jefferts Schori drew chuckles when she told how, in the face of pressure from some Global primates for the immediate adoption of the covenant, some of her younger bishops had urged her, “Let’s do it. Now.”

But if The Episcopal Church were to sign the covenant, she suggested, other once enthusiastic provinces might have second thoughts about it. The Episcopal Church will not examine or even vote for the Covenant till the 2012 General Convention, but of course by then, the Communion could be in a very different place and it won’t matter whether TEC signs or not. Interestingly enough, a number of orthodox Episcopal dioceses have signed the Covenant with the latest being the Diocese of Albany.


But she is in good, dare we say, a “safe space” country. The Anglican Church in Aotearoa (the Land of the long white cloud) also has reservations about the Covenant.

The General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has affirmed three-fourths of the Anglican Covenant in principle and asked its “episcopal units” to discuss the Covenant for the next two years.

The Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews, formerly of the Anglican Church in Canada and now Bishop of Christchurch, has spoken out in favor of the Covenant when the synod began discussing the matter.

“There are those who believe it is all about one or another explosive event in the life of the Communion. I prefer to think it has a bigger vision than that,” she said. The bishop described the Covenant as an effort to preserve Anglican unity.


The charge by the Guardian newspaper that the proposed Covenant is the culmination of a conservative and homophobic drive for power in the Anglican Communion is ludicrous and laughable bearing in mind that it was Rowan Williams himself who got the ball rolling on the idea of a Covenant. Just this week the ultra-liberal Province of Mexico became the first Communion Province to adopt the Anglican Communion Covenant following its VI General Synod in Mexico City.

This province which became an autonomous Province of the Anglican Communion in 1995 is made up of 120 parishes, with only 12 self supporting and is financially supported by TEC to the tune of nearly $800,000 for the 2010-2012 Triennium. The rest are missions or preaching stations.

Secretary General Kenneth Kearon said he was delighted at the decision and labeled The Anglican Church of Mexico’s decision as a “significant step” in the life of the Communion.


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