on business of the General Synod at Church House, Westminster, Wednesday 24 November 2010
In the morning the Synod debated the proposed Anglican Covenant. It is not open to the Synod to modify the Covenant, although that did not stop members trying. The entire morning, over three hours, was devoted to the business. In the end it was passed and will now be referred to Dioceses before returning to General Synod presumably in early 2012.
The Covenant had met with fairly fierce opposition from liberals who do not like the idea of any accountability or discipline. If the debate was anything to go by the standard liberal tactic is that whenever a disagreement arises we should always talk and never reach a decision. The fact that in the USA and Canada the liberals have not only reached a decision but are fairly ruthlessly driving out those who oppose them was mentioned in the debate. However, when it came to the vote the opposition was not as strong as anticipated. No Bishops voted against, although the Bishop of Lincoln certainly spoke as if he was going to in his last contribution to the Synod before retirement. About one sixth of the laity and clergy voted against. That said, the Covenant was hardly warmly endorsed. The general tenor of contributions was that this should be supported but there are problems with what is being proposed.
The more conservative opponents to the Covenant, who fear it is far too little far too late were largely unheard in the debate. Moreover, our fear that the Covenant process is actually delaying and frustrating any attempts to resolve the deep divisions in the Communion was evidenced by some of the speakers who seemed to want, or said they did want, the process to continue but no final decision be reached.
Two attempts were made to prolong the process (and one might add the agony) of the Covenant. One was an adjournment to the debate until July of 2011, the other was a following motion to delay when it would be put to Diocesan Synods. Both these failed as did an amendment to take out the last vestiges of discipline from the document.
The Anglican Covenant - Further analysis. Cross†Way article by David Phillips, issue Winter 2011
David Phillips (General Secretary, Church Society)