The Archbishop of Cape Town has published an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury that urges the provinces of the Anglican Communion to adopt the Anglican Covenant.
On 10 January 2012, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba released a letter offering a theological rationale in support of the Covenant saying it was “necessary” ingredient for Anglicans “in recalling us to ourselves.”
Whether Dr Makgoba’s plea will find a receptive audience is uncertain, however, as strong objections to the Covenant have been voiced by liberals and conservatives. Although a number of smaller provinces have endorsed the Covenant, primarily out of local considerations, within the larger Churches the momentum appears to be moving towards rejecting the document.
Within the Church of England four dioceses have endorsed the document, and four have rejected it. The Church of Ireland has given a qualified endorsement, as has the Province of South East Asia. Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Mexico and the West Indies have signalled their approval.
However, sentiment in the Episcopal Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and Australia is running against the Covenant, while the Global South primates group has called for its rejection as has the House of Bishops of the Philippine Episcopal Church.
In his letter, Dr Makgoba argues salvation comes not through the working of institutions, but through the actions of Christ. The Covenant supports this end as it is an instrument that “places God’s vision for God’s Church and God’s world centre-stage; and then invites us to live into this as our ultimate and overriding context and calling.”
He rejects claims the Covenant will impose an institutional straightjacket on the Church, arguing the document does not have that authority. Dr Makgoba also notes that the concerns raised about autonomy are a due to a failure of trust and theological imagination.
The identity of the Communion’s member Churches “should not principally be conveyed through legal prisms, whether of some form of centralising authority, or of Provinces’ constitutions and canon law which must be ‘safeguarded’ from external ‘interference’.”
“The provisions of the Covenant – which neither create new structures nor interfere in Provinces’ life – should be understood,” Dr Makgoba concludes in terms of “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”Adopting the Covenant means “constraining ourselves through the same sort of mutuality of love St Paul had in mind when he wrote ‘all things are lawful but not all things are beneficial – all things are lawful but not all things build up’,” Dr Makgoba said.
He acknowledged the work would be difficult, but commended the agreement to the Communion as a way forward through its present divisions.
It’s probably only Southern Africa Anglicans thinking this way. He is completely out of touch with the rest of - for the most part - faithful and orthodox Africa Bishops and clearly not a part of the so-called Global South.