ABC says only Provinces can sign onto Covenant

The Living Church reports that Archbishop of Canterbury has said that the Anglican Covenant can only be signed at the Provincial level.

In answer to an inquiry from the Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. John Howe, the Archbishop said that while an “endorsement” by a diocese or parish is possible, “as a matter of constitutional fact, the [Anglican Consultative Council] can only offer the covenant for ‘adoption’ to its own constituent bodies (the provinces).”

The archbishop added that “I see no objection to a diocese resolving less formally on an ‘endorsement’ of the covenant.” Such an action would not have an “institutional effect” but “would be a clear declaration of intent to live within the agreed terms of the Communion’s life and so would undoubtedly positively affect a diocese’s pastoral and sacramental relations” with the wider communion, he said.

The September 28, 2009 letter clarifies that it will be the Anglican Consultative Council that will offer the final version of the Covenant to the Provinces and receive their responses.

Mark Harris says that this means that the members of the Communion can take their time reviewing the document and the rush to endorse the Covenant as it now stands is “a ruse” but now signing on to a Covenant that is part and parcel of the ACC and the instruments of Communion works against the GAFCON goal of Canterbury-free Anglicanism.

The mad rush to sign on is a ruse, in order to make a crisis out of a process and short-circuit the provincial system. This is a get out the vote effort, with the hope that a majority of the dioceses in the Anglican Communion will go for the Covenant, and the winners will be the GAFCON Provinces and their dioceses. Of course the backfire is that in going for the Covenant dioceses are also going for the Instruments of Communion, chief among them being the Archbishop of Canterbury. If dioceses in the GAFCON crowd vote yes on the Anglican Covenant, the possibility of a Communion without the ABC as a focus of unity disappears.

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