Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Anglican Covenant and Democratic Centralism

The "final" version of the Anglican Covenant is now on the street. You can read the assorted documentation here, here and here. Mark Harris and Jim Naughton (among others) have some worthwhile commentary. Jim, in particular, notes the secretive and unaccountable process involved.

The process that has led us to this appalling Covenant led me to consider someone who, like Rowan Cantuar, was seminary trained, had an abiding interest in Eastern Orthodoxy, had a knowledge of the writings of Dostoyevsky, had some recognized talent as a poet, had a tendency to operate through hand selected proxies and a drive to centralize power through secretive processes.

One of the central doctrines of Stalinism was Democratic Centralism - that, once a decision has been taken, it is the obligation of everyone in the society to support the decision or policy so enacted. The Stalinist version of Democratic Centralism was a corruption of the earlier Leninist idea that, prior to the decision, there would be open discussion and free debate. (In fairness to Uncle Joe, it was actually Lenin who began the erosion of the democratic part of Democratic Centralism.)

The Anglican Covenant, as it stands, is a product of as Stalinist a process as could possibly be imagined. A hand-picked committee raised the suggestion that a Covenant might be a way out of our present difficulties and suddenly, with no open or honest discussion allowed, Uncle Rowan decided that a Covenant there would be. Loyalty to the decision has been broadly demanded across the board. The committees concerned in its design and implementation have been unrepresentative and unaccountable. And Uncle Rowan has, by arbitrary fiat, declared that failure to endorse this particular doctrinal innovation will impair a Province's membership in the Communion.

As further support to his centralizing agenda, Uncle Rowan et al have arbitrarily vested ultimate authority in a body which, prior to this, had existed only to coordinate the work of two other Instruments of Communion. Now the newly re-christened Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion will be the centre of authority, charged with processing as many ceremonial denunciations and show trials as may be necessary to impose Uncle Rowan's Dictatorship of the Primatariate.

As for me, I think I'll hunker down and await Perestroika. Here's a Facebook group opposing the new Anglican Stalinism.


liturgy said...

I have pointed out the change in the draft is an acknowledgement of a new centralisation:

June Butler said...

Malcolm, what's a link from my wee blog, compared to a link from Thinking Anglicans?

You're right on with this post. The Covenant was slipped into the Anglican Communion agenda as a must-do by slight of hand, just as the Windsor Report suddenly became a rule book. Both entities were conceived and produced without proper democratic discussion and input.

June Butler said...

That should be "sleight of hand".