Sunday, July 04, 2010

Muchas Gracias, Mexico!

When, in the wake of certain controversial decisions taken by the 2003 General Convention of the Episcopal Church, the ad hoc Lambeth Commission issued the document since known as the Windsor Report, the idea of an Anglican Covenant entered the radar screen, but was a relatively small blip near the margins. Most of us, some hopefully and some fearfully, were looking for something that would address past events, “fix” past events. A covenant, by contrast, would be a future-oriented enterprise—a good thing, perhaps, but not a front-burner issue.
During the intervening years, as events in the Anglican Communion have unfolded like a slow-motion train wreck, the Covenant has steadily inched ever closer to center stage. The evolving text went through three drafts, and the final text was commended to the provinces by the Anglican Consultative Council in May 2009—sans Part IV, which has since been “perfected” by a special committee and appended to the document. The covenant has been discussed and debated, formally and informally, all over the communion. It has been analyzed and criticized from the left and from the right. General Convention 2009 commended it to the various dioceses for study and feedback.
At each step of this process, however, the Anglican Covenant has been theoretical, an idea turned into a proposal.
Until last week, that is.
Last Wednesday, June 30, the Anglican Communion News Service reported that the Anglican Province of Mexico has become the first province to formally, by an act of its duly-constituted synod, adopt the Anglican Covenant.
This will have no immediate impact on anyone. But it’s big news, nonetheless, for two reasons:
  • The terms of the Covenant itself dictate that it becomes effective as soon as a province formally adopts it, for those provinces that so adopt it. So, with Mexico’s action, the Anglican Covenant is now a “fact on the ground.” The Mexican church has promised to abide by its terms, and presumably this includes its relations with provinces that have not (yet) adopted it.
  • That Mexico was the first is especially significant because of its historic close ties to the Episcopal Church. Indeed, the Mexican dioceses were all once part of TEC’s Province IX. It is a “daughter” to TEC. Conventional wisdom would have it that Mexico would share TEC officialdom’s stand-offish attitude toward the Covenant, and if it were to eventually embrace the agreement, it would be late in the game, after several other provinces have done so. But not so. The first Covenant-signer is TEC’s own offspring, right in our own backyard.
Honestly, to say that the future of the Anglican Communion is tenuous would be to substantially understate the reality we face. I don’t know that the Covenant will save it. I do know, however, that without the Covenant, its doom is sure. The Covenant may not be sufficient, but it is necessary. It may not lead us all the way out of our crisis, but it is the only thing presently pointing us in the direction of the exit. As I believe passionately that the Anglican Communion is a treasure eminently worth saving, I am committed to exercising whatever tiny influence I might have in its favor.
The Mexican church has done all Anglicans a service. Demos gracias al Dios!


Fr. J said...

This is a bit off topic, but what do you think of the news about Jeffrey John?

Daniel Martins said...

I don't think there's any actual news yet, just rumor and speculation. There could be something there, or it could be a case of journalists trying to "make" news by stirring the pot. We'll see.