“I am wondering if the proposed Anglican Covenant is as dead as many Episcopalians think it is. It seems to me that Rowan Williams is making slow but significant progress toward assembling a notional center that he can then play off against the left (constituted by us, the Brazilians, the Scots and maybe the Welsh) and the right (constituted by Nigeria, Uganda and the Southern Cone.)”
That is the lead paragraph in a new blog post today on Episcopal Café by Jim Naughton. So far, Myanmar, Mexico and West indies have approved the Covenant and the plodding process moves forward for consideration in many other provinces. Not all those opposed to the Covenant object to its provisions—many of the Global South provinces think it does not go far enough. Naughton leaves you with the impression he believe the Anglican Covenant still has a reasonable prospect of adoption among the Provinces.
An actual scorecard on the actions to date on the Anglican Covenant can be found on a website devoted to that purpose at http://noanglicancovenant.org/background.html#status . If you are looking for background information on the Anglican Covenant or the issues leading up to it this is a useful place to find it all in one location.
Diocesan Dilemma: Blessing Civil Unions and the Anglican Covenant
Meanwhile back at Westminster, the Archbishop of Canterbury has another fight on his hands after it was reported in the Telegraph on Valentine’s Day that Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat equalities minister in the UK Coalition Cabinet is expected to ask the House of Commons to lift the current ban on civil partnerships being conducted in church. The report said they could also be carried out in the future out by priests or other religious figures. The Church of England is on record as not allowing any of its buildings to be used for civil partnership ceremonies as is the Roman Catholic Church.
The action by Equalities Minister Featherstone follows her predecessor from the previous Labour government Lord Alli, a Labour life-peer in the House of Lords and its only openly gay Muslim member, who acted as Tony Blair‘s floor manager in Lords in passage of the Civil Partnership Act 2004, giving same-sex couples in the United Kingdom the ability to enter into civil unions with equal rights as married couples. In 2009, Lord Alli lead an effort to repeal clauses in the Civil Partnerships Act which prohibited religious institutions from conducting the ceremonies on their premises which resulted in a compromise bipartisan amendment, which became part of the Equality Act 2010. Action by Parliament is required to fully implement the new policy to allow use of religious building and rituals if the denomination approves.
See, our situation in the Episcopal Church is not so bad after all. We are an independent member of the Anglican Communion with the right to say “no” to any action of the other provinces seeking to impose conditions or limitations to our actions. Pity poor Rowan Williams, he not only has the rest of the primate cats to herd but now the politicians are telling him who to bless and where to go.
Oops, let me rephrase that last sentence!