At the end of a hectic day of often confusing debate and parliamentary maneuvering in which Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams personally intervened four times, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) on May 8 postponed sending the third draft of the Anglican Covenant to the Communion’s provinces for adoption.
The Anglican Communion Institute has issued a statement decrying the proceedings as “an embarrassment to Anglicans everywhere, and a sad display of procedural confusion.”
The ACC had been asked to send the entire text to the provinces for adoption. However, some members considered allies to The Episcopal Church raised objections to the processes outlined in Section Four regarding dispute resolution. Their first motion to remove Section Four for review was voted down, but the main provisions of the defeated motion were then inserted into a separate resolution already under consideration. The ACC’s chairman, Bishop John Paterson of New Zealand, initially ruled this re-introduction out of order, but Archbishop Williams, who had called for a vote on the first motion, then challenged Bishop Paterson’s ruling and it was reversed. The pending resolution was amended to include the previously defeated provisions. After a break, Bishop Paterson announced that the resolution had passed.
“Evidence indicates that members did not understand what they were voting on, what the Archbishop of Canterbury was proposing, or why he was proposing it,” the ACI argued. “Amid much confusion, the chairman announced that the entire resolution had passed, even though there is no evidence it had even been voted on, the previous votes having been to amend the resolution, not pass it.”
As adopted, the resolution now asks Archbishop Williams, in consultation with the ACC’s secretary general, the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, “to appoint a small working group to consider and consult with the provinces on Section Four and its possible revision, and to report to the next meeting of the Joint Standing Committee” of the Primates and the ACC in late 2009, and asks the JSC to approve a final form at that meeting.