Monday, January 21, 2013

Time for the new broom to sweep clean

A recurring image used by populist politicians in opposition, "a new broom sweeps clean," perhaps also describes the opportunity presented to the new Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev'd Justin Welby.  While Dr. Welby is unlikely to make any loud pronouncement against his predecessor's misguided project, he does have an opportunity, very quietly, to sweep the discredited Anglican Covenant into the dustbin of church history.

I was a little startled to realize that I had not made a single blogpost about the so-called Anglican Covenant since July, when I blogged daily from the Episcopal Church General Convention in Indianapolis.  In part, the extended silence was due to the lack of substantive developments. 

Indeed, having seen the Covenant go down in flames in England, Scotland and New Zealand, it is now pretty obvious that the thing is dead.  Yet because it was so incompetently drafted, it staggers on like some dessicated zombie or reflection-free nosferatu.  And in the background, its bewildered partisans try to pretend that everything is coming along swimingly.

A good example of how the ecclesiastical talking heads continue to delude themselves is the report prepared for the fall session of the Church of England General Synod which, while admitting that the draft Act of Synod had been defeated in the dioceses, tries to spin it out of the grave with a bit of fancy arithmetic and a spurious claim of moral victory. 

Of course the business committee completely ignores the unethical way in which the deck was stacked in favour of the Covenanters.  The fact that Church House refused to provide any material that was not 100 percent supportive of the Covenant is not mentioned.  Nor is there any mention of the refusal of many dioceses to permit such information to be distributed to synod members when other groups offered to cover the cost of distribution.  The fact that the debate in many diocesan synods was grotesquely manipulated to produce a pro-Covenant outcome is likewise blithely ignored.  Elsewhere I have used the analogy of a soccer match between Manchester United and the boys from the local grammar school.  If the grammar school wins the game, ManU can take no solace in having kept the score close.

Similarly, the fall meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council carried on in the best "nothing-to-see-here" manner.  The official report from the Anglican Communion Office attempted to spin the English result as a non-defeat, and unofficial commentary attempted to do the same regarding the unequivocal rejection by the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

It's all beginning to resemble the apocryphal tale of the Duke of Northumberland holding the dead body of Edward VI in the window so the crowd would believe the young king still lived.

It seems unlikely that Justin Welby will want to waste his ecclesiopolitical capital trying to revive a discredited and discreditable project which, whatever the intentions of its authors, has failed in its purpose.

1 comment:

JimB said...

It seems to me the smartest thing the new archbishop can do is to quietly instruct his communion office staff to drop the thing, and let someone like the primus of Scotland know that he would welcome and support a withdrawal motion at the next ACC meeting.

But, I fear I seldom see English bishops choosing the smart option. Alas.

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