Admiral of Morality: Diocese of Virginia on Covenant: No thank you

Friday, June 29, 2007

Diocese of Virginia on Covenant: No thank you

The Diocese of Virginia, which recently installed its new suffragan bishop Shannon S. Johnston, has issued its response to the proposed Anglican Covenant in a one page statement by the Standing Committee.

The Virginia response, calling the proposed covenant deeply flawed on both practical and theological grounds, is noteworthy for its plain and clear language in defense of historic Anglican relationships and structures. It strongly defends the Anglican Consultative Council against the proposals to change it and lend more authority to the Primates.
We particularly object to the clauses in the Draft Covenant that limit the authority of the Anglican Consultative Council, the only Instrument of Unity that includes lay people. We affirm that the full inclusion of the laity in decision making and leadership is a hallmark of The Episcopal Church and a particular charism of Anglicanism, and we object to any action that would diminish its vitality.

We also object to the disproportionate power given in the Draft Anglican Covenant to the Primates’ Meeting and oppose efforts to establish any body akin to the Roman Catholic Curia. The establishment of such a body is profoundly contrary to the historic spirit of Anglicanism. We are deeply concerned that the Meeting of Primates has already assumed improper and unprecedented authority to adjudicate genuine theological disagreements and to dictate what actions Provinces may or may not take without regard to the synodical structures of the Provinces, as evidenced in their Dar es Salaam Communiqué.

We conclude that the Draft Anglican Covenant is profoundly impaired by its disregard for the deep theological grounds on which we already belong together, the ecclesial history of Anglicanism as a family of interdependent yet autonomous churches that are both episcopally led and synodically governed, and by a rush to end the current disagreements in which we find ourselves.
The full text of the response is here.

The draft covenant was unveiled last winter at the primates meeting in Tanzania. The response to it by dioceses and other Church bodies, has been largely unfavorable. Responses to the covenant have been aided by the Church's Covenant Study Guide.

It is expected that the draft covenant and responses to it, will be presented and discussed at the Lambeth Conference in 2008.

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