Not merely patronising

Bishop Victoria Matthews is not merely patronising, she is actually wrong.

Wait, you want me to back up a bit? OK.

The story so far: We’ve been considering the idea of an Anglican Covenant for years and this year the Scottish Episcopal Church decided to reject it and did so in a very clear synodical decision. The Anglican Consultative Council is currently meeting in New Zealand and Bishop Victoria has been making statements about those who can’t agree with the Covenant that are, at best disingenuous. (Which is Anglican for “Completely Wrong and Verging on Deceit”).

Here’s part of the report from the Anglican Communion Office:
Bishop Matthews… was introducing a session on the history and progress of the Covenant as part of the 15th ACC meeting in Auckland.
She stressed the point that it was not the work of IASCUFO [The International Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith and Order] to promote the Covenant, but rather to monitor its reception.
“As we have sought to do that,” she told delegates, “I have often thought that the document people discuss and the actual Anglican Covenant are two different documents.
“One is the document that people have in their mind and the other is the Anglican Communion Covenant on paper. So I really want [people] to read the Covenant and be focused on that. Because often, when people start talking about the Covenant, what they describe in their mind as the Covenant is unrecognisable.”

I have to say that I find the suggestion that we really need to read the actual Covenant quite insulting. No church could have done better at reading the thing than the Scottish Episcopal Church. We’ve discussed it at our annual General Synod over years. We’ve looked at each different version of the text. We’ve discussed it in dioceses. We’ve discussed it in regional councils. Some have discussed it in Vestries and in some places whole congregations looked at it. People preached on it. People studied it. We went over the text itself with a tooth-comb. The Standing Committee discussed and implemented every possible way of discussing the document. We talked about it until people were sick of talking about it. We printed it out so many times that people complained about the environmental impact of the Covenant process.

And then we finally made a decision and the decision was a resounding “No.” We really don’t need to go back and read the text. We read it plenty and we made up out minds very clearly and overwhelmingly.

Bishop Victoria also said, “Remember most of the Covenant reminds us who we are in Christ.”

You know, the predominant thing that we said was not that we were worried about the punitive sections. That was true for very many of us. However the thing I heard people saying again and again was, “This just doesn’t represent who we are”.

The claim that the Covenant reminds us who we are in Christ is a rather foolish one. The Covenant is an imagined identity which we have firmly rejected.

It is certainly patronising of Bishop Victoria Matthews to imply that we in Scotland just have not read the Covanant enough. More than that though, it isn’t true.

She’s just plain wrong.


  1. Bravo, bravo, Kelvin!. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read the text of the Anglican Covenant, and, with each rereading, I like it less. Bishop Matthews does indeed insult all of us who have spent time pouring over the odious document and found it wanting. It is just not Anglican. God bless the Scottish Episcopal Church for its brave stand and firm “No”. I was crushed when the Episcopal Church in the US did not stand with the SEC and vote a resounding “No” at its General Convention.

    Our convention “declined to take a position” on the covenant, but the result has been mischaracterized by the reports out of the ACC meeting as having made a “partial decision”. I can say with full confidence that TEC will never, ever adopt the covenant. I’m just sorry that we did not have the backbone to state that truth firmly by vote at GC.

  2. Markus says

    Bp Matthews needs to be shown this:

    Obviously she does not have any clear understanding of the Anglican Communion.

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