Comprehensive Unity: The No Anglican Covenant Blog

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Can fairness be attained with the proposed covenant?

The Revd Canon Alan T Perry, an expert in canon law (he claims ever a student), has published the first part of a commentary on the proposed Anglican Covenant's dispute-settling process from the perspective of Administrative Law

He has published the first of a two-part analysis of the proposed Covenant from the perspective of the Duty to be Fair (which is essentially Natural Justice outside the realm of a judicial proceeding). In this analysis, exploring the applicability of the Duty to be Fair to the proposed Covenant and the principle of "hear the other side", he concludes that fairness might be achieved provided the Standing Committee exercises its very great discretion properly, but that there is some doubt that this will happen in the absence of guidelines to promote and guarantee fairness. If fairness is achieved it will be more a matter of good luck than of the deliberate design of the dispute-settling process in the proposed Covenant.

The enquiry concerning fairness is important for three reasons:
fairness is an important consideration in Christian faith and the canonical tradition, allied with questions of justice (hence “Natural Justice”); a decision felt to be unfair will be rejected and will only increase division in the Anglican Communion, counter to the stated purpose of the proposed Covenant; aside from being the right thing to do, protecting fairness would lend credibility to the proposed Covenant’s procedures.

As Jones and de Villars put it, “Justice must not only be done but must manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done. It increases the confidence of the parties and the public in the decision-making process. It also produces better decisions.” (p. 454)

Read Part I here

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Blogger DannyEastVillage said...

I think it unlikely that those whose belief systems are inimical to the position of gay people in society generally and in the church particularly will feel called upon to be "fair" as the term is being used here.

If such persons feel no compunction about mistreatment of gay people in light of Jesus' urgings concerning "lov(ing) one another"--even (in the case of some "christian" leaders including "Anglican" bishops) going to far as to be willing to countenance death penalty for us, I doubt if they can be made to see their biblically based position as leading to poor quality decision making. They have already made it known that any decison-making that does not adhere to a biblical perspective that includes verbal inspiration and literal inerrancy is a product of Western decadence.

December 19, 2010 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger JimB said...


I think the answer to the post question is that no, fairness cannot be obtained.

Thanks for commenting! Blogs take a while to develop a community of commenter writers and I hope we are going to see more and more. You are a pioneer!


December 22, 2010 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger DannyEastVillage said...

Thanks for your kind welcome.

I'm so wary of the idea of "fairness" when it comes to such discussions as this as they often seem to degenerate into equating fairness with "majority rules."

to take this a step further in a direction I intimated in my previous posting. The Ugandan bishops have all but excommunicated one of their retired members because he has recalcitrant in his refusing to be nasty to gay people. Since his actions contradict the attitude and practice of active hatred embraced by the Ugandan primate and his episcopal colleagues, he has been stripped of his dignity as a bishop. In other words, since he has refused to feel the hate, he has been told to move on. Without his pension.

I don't know what canonical procedures were followed antecedent to this action, but I have not heard of Lambeth's howling about this in a way that parallels their asking the American primate not to wear her miter at Southwark because the American church ordained a lesbian to the episcopate. It's difficult to see how an intention of fairness can be extrapolated from an ethos that silently countenances brutality in one church while actively seeking to humiliate a church and primate that has chosen to exercise unconditional hospitality of its gay members.

The member churches of the Anglican communion have been brought to a place where it seems that they must make a choice either for the gospel or for persevering in darkness and ignorance.

December 26, 2010 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger JimB said...


I think the issue with the so-called covenant goes beyond any one case. None-the-less seeing how the communion works with the utterly unlawful assumption of it in the cases of Southern Cone and TEC should lead any rational person to say no.

If Uganda makes the mistake of signing, I hope someone files a challenge to them! Your analysis of their actions is very on point.

I hope you will consider speaking out at your diocese or other meetings regarding the idea of ratifying this thing. It is the exactly the wrong response to the issues.


December 26, 2010 at 6:52 PM  

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