jump to navigation

Archbishop announces Covenant working group: CEN 6.05.09 p 5 June 6, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced the composition of a Working Group to review section 4 of the Ridley Draft of the Anglican Covenant. On May 28, Dr. Rowan Williams named the Archbishop of Dublin, the Archbishop of Singapore, the Bishop of St. Asaph and Dr. Eileen Scully of the Anglican Church of Canada to the team.

However, the selection of two liberals and two conservatives for the working group, and with only two days allotted for review of the material make it likely that few changes will be made to the disciplinary sections of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

The mandate for the working group arose from the failed debate on the Anglican Covenant at ACC-14 in Kingston. Disquiet with the management of ACC-14 has also been voiced by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, who contrasted the transparent and thorough deliberative processes of her church’s General Convention, with the opaque and confused workings of the ACC.

Birthed in the confusion of the May 8 debate on the Anglican Covenant, ACC-14 asked that a “small working group” be appointed by Dr. Williams to “consider and consult with the provinces” on Section 4 of the Ridley draft “and its possible revision,” and report its findings to the members of the Primates and ACC joint standing committee for action.

Copies of the Ridley Draft have been circulated amongst the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion seeking comments on section 4. Dr. Williams has requested that these responses be submitted by Nov 13 for the working group to review on Nov 20-21 in London. Their recommendations will then be presented to the Dec 15-18 meeting of the joint standing committee.

In a pastoral letter released on May 26, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori stated the ACC’s deliberative structure was far from ideal or efficient.

Upon arrival in Kingston the ACC delegates were “inundated with long and complex papers on a great variety of subjects” and in contrast to the Episcopal Church’s custom of lengthy debate and legislative hearings, delegates to the ACC were then “expected to make decisions after brief opportunities for small-group discussion.”

The “details of decision-making would surprise most Episcopalians,” she said, as there was “relatively little opportunity for deliberation or alteration” of resolutions, even though the pace of work was “leisurely, with 40 hours of formal work spread over 11 working days.”

Commonly observed rules of parliamentary procedure were not observed, she noted, as the chairman of the meeting exercised “a great deal of discretion in referring or declining to entertain resolutions; elections are not straightforward ballots for a single individual; discussion of any proposed amendment requires the support of 10 members; the president (the Archbishop of Canterbury) steps in fairly frequently to ‘steer’” the sessions.

Speaking to the press at the close of the Kingston meeting, the ACC’s legal advisor Canon John Rees explained that the ACC was not bound by rules of parliamentary procedure. The ACC had moved away from a “western parliamentary way of doing our business,” and now relied upon its chairman to discern “the general assent emerging” from its meetings, Canon Rees said.

%d bloggers like this: