Church Times questions wisdom of bishops’ decision on Covenant

Last week the Church of England House of Bishops issued a “Summary of Decisions” in which in was revealed it wants quick and easy approval of the Anglican Covenant by the General Synod. (See our story, English bishops want quick action on Anglican Covenant.) Friday’s Church Times lead editorial had this to say of the HoB proposal:

The records of the recent House of Bishops meeting, released this week, show that the House agreed not to propose special majorities when it comes to the vote in the General Synod. The decision is surprising, given the impact that the Covenant might have on the Church of England. Although the text contains no mechanical means whereby one province can influence the deliberations of another, it will obviously change matters to know that a decision might result in some form of severance from the Communion mainstream. This might not be a bad thing — greater responsiveness to each other is, after all, the object of the Covenant — but it will be a different thing.

As matters now stand, the implications if a province decides not to endorse the Covenant are unknown. The Covenant Working Group concluded that, in such an eventuality, “there should be the flexibility for the Instruments of Communion to determine an appropriate response in the evolving situation.” In other words, the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates’ Meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and, if time drags on, the Lambeth Conference would have to make something up. The C of E is not any old province, however, and were it to reject the Covenant, it is hard to see the project surviving. At the very least, the Archbishop of Canterbury would find it hard to support the Covenant without the backing of his Church. As so much rests on the vote, a two-thirds majority in the Synod would provide a clearer endorsement.

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