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LAMBETH: Archbishop Gomez Speaks

LAMBETH: Archbishop Gomez Speaks


We did not think about going in the legalistic route. We thought, rather, that we would redefine or rearticulate the tenants of Anglicanism and call Anglicans around the world to rally around who we are and what we stand for.

There are three sections to the Covenant.

1. The theology of being in communion is found in the first section. This is the theology of the Windsor Report. The communion is made up of 38 independent and autonomous provinces and we need to fin a way of respecting and maintaining the independence and autonomy of each church while finding a way to relate to and respect the common and seek to act in such a way that will hold together and not destroy the communion. Autonomy in communion meant searching for the deep roots of our faith, so section one emphasizes the common faith. Then in light of that we should be able to make the commitments that follow.

2. In this section, we look at the mission given to us by God

3. Finally, in section 3, the consequences and commitments that flow out of working together are addressed.

We believe we have provided a way that will allow Anglicans to revisit and be assisted in the process of self understanding and it will also help us in our ecumenical relations because I chaired the Anglican Ecumenical Relations Commission and often people would as us, "who are the Anglicans?" We will help the ecumenical partners if we can state clearly who we are. I think we have done a good job at articulating a common understanding of Anglicanism

Anglicanism is Reformed Catholicism and we have sought to retain and emphasize that.

Our overall aim is to hold the AC together not to provide something new but to provide a mechanism to bring us back to the center and renew our commitment to journey forward together

We did not attempt to produce a document to deal with the issues of the communion. That was not our task.

Our purpose was to suggest 'this is how communion should deal with these things in the future. We believe that it is the way forward for our communion. In some of the groups of which I am a member there seems to be a general consensus and there seems to be the idea that this Covenant is the way forward now. The committee I chair will meet at the end of September when we will review the responses of the bishops and then reexamine the text.

We will wait until April of next year when the provinces will send their answers to us by March.

We will then produce the third draft to send to the ACC14 in May. Our process here is seeking for a kind of direction for the work of the design group, taking the bishops' suggestions on board and then producing a third draft so that we have a document that does not just reflect the views of the design group but the whole Communion. It will be a Communion document produced by input from the various strata of the whole Communion.

+Mwamba: I would like to talk about Covenant in the context of spirit meeting soul; in the context of the indaba groups. There is an overwhelming consensus on the need to uphold the communion and preserve the heritage we share.

The spirit of the covenant is relationship. One would like to see this as a covenant of friendship

Quotes Maya Angelou: "Passports to Understanding".

She talks about the need for all of us to get out of our boundaries and cultures and contexts and safe zones and explore the wider world. We tend to see other things and people as threats and enemies when they are in many ways just like us. But when we go out of our own places, when we get out, we see that others have the same fears and needs. By journeying you end up becoming friends.

This Covenant enables us as Anglicans from all over the world, to be bound buy the common bonds. The idea is we need to discover each other and become friends. You do not fear friends.

It is not a legal punitive covenant. We need a covenant that respects others, one of mutual reverence and respect and honor and cooperation and goals and in this context, in this spirit of the covenant, there will a communion that enhances he beauty of Anglicanism with its ability to absorb different viewpoints and views and to see what they can add to this kaleidoscope and this color of life that we have. That is how we are as bishops looking at the covenant to create something that will give life and that respects our humanity.

A covenant for the nations.


Q: How serious are the bishops about having an Anglican Covenant given that you received so few responses to the draft?

Gomez: it is true that we did not get as many responses from provinces but we did receive responses from a dozen provinces and we were given a lot of material to work with. A large bloc of African province indicated verbally their support of a covenant but did not send written responses.

Q: there has been waxing and waning in earlier drafts with regard to the Anglican formularies, will they be specifically mentioned in subsequent drafts?

Gomez: That is one of the issues that has been raised and will be addressed at our next meeting. There is no attempt to deny that they are at the heart of Anglicanism. It is a question of details.

Aspinall: They have different status throughout the communion, in some provinces they carry legal weight and in others they do not so in the end it may be that we recognize their profound historical significance within the Communion.

Q: Can a document built on principles that are incorrect and still resolve issues? For example preserving the full autonomy of every province and at the same time maintaining full communion, how does that work?

Gomez: We say in the document that parties to the covenant who have their autonomy also recognize the common good and they will do nothing to break up the common good so their loyalty to the communion presents a holding pattern. That is the meaning of autonomy in communion. If it autonomy in communion you will always respect the common good

Aspinall: autonomy simply means self-rule. To be in covenant is a self-limitation to remain in communion. It is not imposed from above it is an autonomous decision to self-limit for the sake of communion.

Q: You said the covenant was a future solution and was not intended to reverse past action. The WCG observations assume that there is retroactive power. There seems to be a discontinuity between the tone and objectives of the two bodies.

Gomez: The word "tone" is rather subjective. The WCG is saying here at Lambeth in faithfulness to the WR, that there are still issues that need to be dealt with in the communion and as we move forward certain actions must be taken in these areas...but these actions and this need is not going to preempt the work of the Covenant.

Q: are you going to continue to serve as the chair of the Design group after your retirement?

Gomez: I will chair the group until May of next year

Q: What happens with this covenant if it is violated, will that mean more meetings?

Gomez: We are presently working on the appendix which sets out how these things will be dealt with. It is something we will be paying great attention to.

+Mwamba: it is a work in progress and those are some issues that will be addressed.

++Aspinall: The idea is that of people entering the covenant by consent and so the expectation is that they will observe the boundaries they self-commit to.

Q: can you tell us the nature of the organization that will have the power to determine who is on our out? Will there be "diminished status" for those who do not sign on to the Covenant?

Gomez: our design group has not addressed consequences. We wanted to deal with the framework to make sure we had the framework to establish our common boundaries before we began discussing consequences. That will be the section we work on more carefully next.

Q: Do you also listed to voices not present here? For example Archbishop Orombi has questioned the role of the ABC structurally speaking. How do you deal with that.

Gomez: We have dealt with that in both drafts. What we have placed before the communion represents consultation from a wide perspective across the whole communion not directed by the ABC or any other instrument.

Gomez: I think section one captures the soul of Anglicanism beautifully.



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