Thursday, December 2, 2010

Marsupial Moot

Canon Alan Perry, a Canadian expert on canon law in the Anglican tradition, has started a amusingly named blog called Insert Catchy Blog Title Here. His latest post is well worth the read.

Having previously put paid to the pro-Covenant proof-texting claims that the autonomy of member churches is respected, Canon Perry has written yet another brilliant expose on the proposed Anglican Covenant. In this case, he focusses on the deliberate vagueness regarding the phrase controversial action in the final draft of the document.

Drexel Gomez's Covenant - whether negligently or deliberately - fails to establish any sort of due process for determining what is or is not a controversial action, what is or is not an action incompatible with the Covenant or how relational consequences are to be applied.

The Covenant’s assurances of Provincial autonomy have been likened to telling a child that he can decide for himself whether to eat his broccoli or not, but if he doesn’t eat the broccoli he won’t get any pudding. With respect to what the rules are, the Covenant is like putting dinner in front of a child with a vague warning that he must eat properly or risk some unspecified “relational consequences”. And what does “properly” mean? Using the correct utensils (without being told what that means)? Eating the various dishes in a correct (but unspecified) sequence? Correct use of condiments (whatever that might be)? Eating the broccoli? Cleaning the plate? Stopping when full? Some unspecified combination of the above? In the absence of a clear rule, what is the poor child to do?

It's difficult even for the most reasonable person to obey the rules if the rules are only to be made up after the fact based on the random grievance of people who don't get their way.

Canon Perry, ever so discreetly, says:

Lack of clarity of what the rules are is a recipe for arbitrariness. It is a denial of the concept of the Rule of Law, opposite of which is the Rule of Men.

Or, to put it another way, here is what canon law and procedural fairness will look like in the New and Improved Post-Covenant Anglican Communion.


Anonymous said...

Malcolm, how can I contact you via non-public email? -Rod Gillis

Malcolm+ said...

Rod, I can be reached at