The Anglican Communion Office has released today the final draft of An Anglican Covenant, the one that we have awaited for some time. Section Four continues to be part of it. There is need for a more analytical comment, but now that it’s out I have my own thoughts about next steps. Let me say that these are things I hope for, however faint that hope might seem, and not a plan I might propose.
First, I hope that the Episcopal Church as institution will make no immediate comment except to note the release and express interest. (Sure, a great many of us as individuals will comment with heat and at length. I’m talking about the institution here.)
Second, I hope that we will indeed study this carefully between now and General Convention in 2012. However we might feel about it at this point (and, no, I don’t care for Section Four either), out of respect for other national and provincial churches in the Communion, many of whom want to maintain communion with us and might also be interested in the Covenant, we need to take the time and make the effort. (Based on past history, I think we’re more likely to actually study it than many.) This should include exploring whether in fact we could theoretically sign on without affecting our Constitution and Canons.
Third, I hope we will bring this to the 2012 Convention. Specifically, I hope we will bring it piecemeal: that is, I think we should consider in separate resolutions the Introduction and Preamble, Sections One, Two, Three, and Four, and the Declaration. Frankly, I don’t think Section Four would have passed in this past Convention in Anaheim, and I don’t expect it will pass in Indianapolis, either. However, I see no harm and significant good in affirming each section that we can, even if we cannot affirm the Covenant as a whole and sign on.
It’s out. We can read what Canterbury wants us all to agree on. I hope our official responses will be measured and careful. In the meantime, let the shouting begin.