David Virtue has not always proven to be the most accurate of reporters, and I am hesitant to vest too much authority in his reports. But if this report from VirtueOnLine
is accurate, and Archbishop Aspinall is truly reflecting the state of things behind closed doors, the Primates meeting in Alexandria may portend the end of a united Anglican Communion.
According to ++Aspinall of Australia, the much-awaited Covenant will have no disciplinary teeth at all. It will, instead, rely entirely on self-policing
based upon the "moral authority" of covenant! It will, in other words, be a completely symbolic statement that means absolutely nothing in a place like North America. Once the Covenant is in place it can be disregarded by the likes of TEC and no meaningful attempt to bring about compliance will even be attempted.Read it and weep
are RWF's emphasis):
There will be no more “stick over the head sanctions” in dealing with Anglican provinces that do not toe the line over homosexual practice, said Australian Archbishop Philip Aspinall, spokesman for the 34 assembled Primates of the Anglican Communion.
At the first press conference on what 38 archbishops of 55 million Anglicans are engaged in, Aspinall said there was a “pulling back” from language that talked about sanctions, enforcement and teeth as they are inappropriate for the Body of Christ. Instead, a framework for koinonia, relationship and fellowship will prevail, with increasing realism about what a Covenant can and cannot do. Legislation is not the way forward, he said.
When questioned by VOL about how discipline will be exercised when things are now going to be based on “koinonia”, “relationships” and “bonds of affection”, rather than Scripture and the creeds, Aspinall replied that if there is a failure of koinonia, then we need to be investing further in communion. He said the provinces need to be committed to covenant, but not committed to a particular covenant.
“It is an issue of moral obligation, not legal enforcement. Each participating church that makes the gift of participating agrees to self limit its autonomy. We will not proceed on dividing issues. If a church willingly enters into this covenant, it must observe obligations. If there is a failure, the remedy required is to invest in mutual relationships. The only sanction we have is non invitation to meetings. There will be no more stick over the head sanctions.”
Aspinall said Lambeth pulled back from that kind of (enforcement) language. He said the Province of Australia has a three-fold method where sanctions could be applied. He said the first is adding to the constitution, “but that is unlikely to happen.” Second is to pass a canon through the General Synod, “but that is also unlikely.” Thirdly, pass sanctions through a resolution of General Convention, but it would have no legal force. There is only moral obligation, he said.
Asked if the Primates had revisited the Dar es Salaam communiqué which called for serious discipline of provinces that ordained homosexuals to the priesthood or blessed same-sex unions, Aspinall said that was off the table. “It is in the background. It certainly prompted the primates to see what kind of communication was coming out of the meeting.”
RWF resumes: With all this talk of a "moral obligation" to koinonia, where have the Primates been for the last five years?!? TEC has no sense of "moral obligation" to the world-wide Anglican Communion at all. And GenCon09 in six months will prove that point beyond dispute when it drops even the pretense of observing the moratoria of Dar es Salaam.
I don't really know what hope is left to cling to with respect to the future of the Anglican Communion now. The Covenant will be useless. It sure looks like the Communion either will not survive as a united body, or it may no longer be worth being a part of. If any member Province can do whatever it wants with nothing at all that can be done to discipline it, then TEC's progress down the road to Unitarian Universalism will proceed completely unchecked.
Words fail me. Sad news indeed.