JAMAICA: Episcopal Church Warned by Covenant Chairman Not to Pass Sexuality Resolutions at GC2009
May 14th, 2009
By David Virtue, Virtueonline
The Episcopal Church was given a stiff warning by the Archbishop of the West Indies and chairman of the Covenant Working Group today that if it passes any sexuality resolutions at GC2009 it will “imperil” the future of the Anglican Communion.
The Most Rev. Drexel Gomez said at a press conference that if GC2009 rescinds Resolution B033 and removes any barriers to persons involved in same-sex relationships, it will imperil the work of the Covenant (in its final draft) and will have an impact on the rest of the communion because of the responses others will need to make.
Gomez said the content of the Covenant is not new, but a restatement of what Anglicans believe. He said that the establishment of the Anglican Covenant is a mechanism, an enhancement of life in the communion
Despite the several drafts the Covenant has gone through, Gomez said the Covenant is right. “We have done the best that possibly can be done. It has a strong theological base, focuses on the inheritance of faith and digs deep wells - all Anglican wells - there is nothing new in it. There are no innovations. It has a strong emphasis on the mission of God and ends with a solid declaration of what we believe.”
St. Asaph Bishop-elect Geoffrey Cameron, a former ACC official, said it is now up to the ACC to believe that the Ridley Cambridge Draft is mature enough to be offered to the provinces for discernment.
Anglican Mainstream leader The Rev. Dr. Chris Sugden noted the long drawn out process of provincial decision-making in some cases would seem to increase the likelihood that those dioceses who wish to sign might take steps to do so outside the province. He asked Bishop Cameron to advise on the counsel given by Datuk Stanley Isaacs in the plenary session on the Covenant that those provinces, whose current polity would not normally allow for a decision by 2014, should be encouraged to take up this matter as emergency business.
Cameron acknowledged the “snail’s pace” progress and that he had heard that many wanted a tighter framework than that proposed in the current draft. “The mind of the Council is that they would like it to be shorter,” he said. Recognizing the fragility of the covenant drawing all the provinces together, Cameron acknowledged that relationships are extremely complicated and the best language is that used by the Archbishop of Canterbury who saw the Covenant as an “intensification of current relationships” if a body refused to enter into a deeper relationship.
He also said that if a number of provinces could not sign off on it, then a two- tier system might be necessary to hold the communion together.
When VOL asked if the ACC accepts the language of Proposal 4.15, which opens the door for the possibility of other provinces signing off on the Covenant, Cameron said that that was a possible an interpretation. “If the Covenant comes into force it opens the door for possibility of other entities and other provinces signing off on it.” He saw it as a second level possibility.
When VOL asked if the language of “other entities” in 4.15 of the Draft which said it shall be open to other churches to adopt the covenant, Cameron did not rule it in or out. Gomez noted that it would be therefore possible for Bishop Duncan’s ACNA province to sign up to the Covenant.
“Where it is not ruled out by the Canons and Constitution of any particular diocese or province, there is no reason a diocese should not express itself in solidarity with the Anglican Communion.”
Cameron noted that there was enthusiasm by the ACC for an open ended Covenant which encourages others to join and have as wide a membership as possible. “We are talking about a dynamic process. All the provinces would need to sign up to the Covenant,” he said.
Asked what would happen if some provinces (like TEC) don’t sign up, Cameron said he didn’t want to link membership of the Covenant with the Instruments of the Communion.
“This could lead to a two tier Anglican Communion with an inner fellowship based around the Covenant and a broader Anglican Church not signed up to the Covenant,” said Cameron. “It would be up to the Instruments of the Communion to discern who was in and who was out.”
Cameron said that Dr. Williams is on record that he would prefer a stronger Covenant even if all provinces didn’t sign rather than a weaker one that few would sign.
Asked by AAC news reporter Robert Lundy if section 4 should stay in, in its entirety, Gomez said yes. “To remove Section 4 would be to reduce the force of the Covenant and make it a non-covenant. It ought to be offered as a whole. It is a coherent whole.”
Gomez noted that the failure of the communion to do something definitive creates an air of uncertainty in the communion.