Southern Cone backs Anglican Covenant

 

Southern Cone backs Anglican Covenant

Author: 

George Conger

La Provincia Anglicana del Cono Sur – the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone – has endorsed the Anglican Covenant.
Meeting in Asunción, Paraguay from 3-11 November 2011, the provincial executive committee and the province’s House of Bishops endorsed the inter-Anglican agreement that sets the parameters of doctrine and discipline for the Anglican Communion.
In a statement released on 20 Dec 2011, Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia stated the province believed the covenant was a “way forward” in the midst of a difficult time when “certain provinces” were proposing “novel ways of Christian living” that rejected “Biblical norms.”
One of bishop stated the province believed that “life in the Communion must be maintained by a basic level of accountability if, in fact, we are a family of interdependent churches.  The Covenant helps fulfill this role.”
“House rules should be kept to a minimum,” he noted, “but being a member of a family has responsibilities that must be ‘lived into’.  Right now, a small faction in the Communion continues to do ‘its own thing’ enjoying many privileges and few responsibilities of family.”
Last month the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea endorsed the covenant, joining the provinces of Mexico, the West Indies and Myanmar in giving their approval.  The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines has rejected the covenant as has the Maori tikhanga, or branch, of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia citing concerns with the centralization of powers in a London-based office found in section four of the document.
Prospects for passage of the covenant in the United States, Australia, Scotland and within a majority of the Global South provinces are poor.  The Episcopal Church’s Executive Committee has raised objections to what it sees as an aggrandizement of powers by an unaccountable bureaucracy in London, while the Diocese of Australia and the Gafcon primates have urged its rejection.  Discussions of the covenant at last summer’s general synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church also produced a preponderance of negative comments concerned with section four.
In their statement announcing their endorsement of the covenant, the province noted that it was now in full compliance with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2010 Pentecost Letter.
On 28 May 2010, Dr. Rowan Williams stated that members of provinces that were in breach of the three moratoria on gay bishops and blessings and cross-border encroachments of provincial boundaries would no longer participate in the formal ecumenical dialogues.
The archbishop’s ban has been unevenly enforced however by the staff of the Anglican Consultative Council.  While Bishop Tito Zavala of Chile was removed from the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order because of the Southern Cone’s support for “boundary crossings,” American members of the UFO committee and other ecumenical dialogues were reclassified as “consultants” and permitted to continue their work uninterrupted.
ACC general secretary Canon Kenneth Kearon also angered the leaders of the Southern Cone when he unilaterally removed Bishop Zavala from the UFO.  The controversial general secretary had requested clarification from the Southern Cone on its relationship to breakaway groups in the United States.  Southern Cone Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables responded that the province’s executive committee would respond to the request, but before the committee could meet, Canon Kearon announced Bishop Zavala’s ban.
Today’s Southern Cone statement noted that it had been “in response to these novel practices” of doctrine and discipline that the “Southern Cone had held churches in North America under its wing for some time while the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) was formed.”
 However, the “province has not maintained jurisdiction over any local churches there for over a year.  As a result, all so called ‘border crossings’ by any provincial members ceased (as of October, 2010) even though the Southern Cone still remains in impaired communion with US and Canadian Provinces,” the communiqué said.
“It is hoped that the Covenant can now provide Communion stability,” the province said.