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Archbishop Makgoba backs ‘redemptive’ Covenant

11 January 2012

by a staff reporter

“Breathing new life into existing frame­works”: Archbishop Makgoba

“Breathing new life into existing frame­works”: Archbishop Makgoba

THE Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, has issued a robust defence of the An­glican Covenant, which is currently being debated in the Church of England and elsewhere in the Angli­can Communion

On Tuesday, Archbishop Makgoba released his response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent letter (News, 9 December), in which Dr Williams had repeated his belief that the Covenant would help unite the Communion and clarify its identity.

In his letter to Dr Williams, which he copied to all the other Primates, Archbishop Makgoba cites the sup­port given by the Anglican Com­munion to those who souhgt to be freed from apartheid in Southern Africa. “We believe that, as in the past, if any of us are adversely touched in any way, the whole Communion is touched.”

He expresses a fear that, because of disagreements about sexuality, the Communion has begun “to drift from that particular sense of belong­ing to God and to each other”. The Covenant has the potential “to help us grow more fully into our calling as faithful Anglicans, faithful Chris­tians, faithful members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. This is the proper context for our discerning of truth, our pursuit of unity, and our under­standing of (and, indeed, our disa­greeing over) how they relate.”

He is concerned, he says, that in debate about the Covenant, there ap­pears to be “a too narrowly blinkered focus on questions not primarily directed towards growing as faithful and obedient members together of the body of Christ”.

The Archbishop argues that: “Our sense of who we are, and called to become, 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’.”

He reminds his readers that the Covenant “does not create new struc­tures or authorities, nor alters constitutions. . . But nor will it allow us to rest content with the sort of ‘autonomous’ ecclesial units that implicitly privilege juridical uni­lateral­ism over autonomy more rightly understood as the growing organic interdependence that must inevitably mark the living body of Christ. . .

“It invites us . . . to breathe new and redemptive life into the Com­mun­ion’s existing frameworks.”

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