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Irish Church ‘Subscribes’ to Anglican Covenant

Friday, May 13, 2011 at 2:13 pm
Acting on a motion from its Standing Committee, the Church of Ireland’s General Synod has subscribed to the Anglican Covenant.
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From The Living Church.

Acting on a motion from its Standing Committee, the Church of Ireland’s General Synod has subscribed to the Anglican Covenant.

Motion 6 was a model of brevity: “Seeing that the Anglican Covenant is consonant with the doctrines and formularies of the Church of Ireland, the General Synod hereby subscribes the Covenant.”

“Verbs are vitally important,” <span>said the Rt. Rev. Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore, in a seconding speech [PDF] for Motion 6. “On May Day, I ‘took part in’ the Belfast Marathon. When interviewed for the radio, the interviewer said ‘I gather you are running in the Marathon.’ My response was ‘Everything you say is true except for the verb! So ‘subscribe’ is used in its old fashioned legal Anglican way to mean ‘sign up to.’ It was thought that ‘adopt’ meant making the Covenant part of us in our very being.”

Bishop Miller added: “The Covenant sits under the Preamble and Declaration and cannot challenge it. This is vitally important, because it is the Preamble and Declaration which declares our essential and foundational principles for determining those with whom we are in communion. “The Church of Ireland maintains [with the essential meaning: holds our hands out in] communion with our sister Church of England as a given, and with all other Christian Churches agreeing in the principles of this Declaration; and will set forward, so far as in it lieth, quietness, peace and love, among all Christian people.”

The standing committee drew similar distinctions in a three-page appendix [PDF] explaining its recommendation: “The motion before the General Synod is clear in its intention. By presenting it at all we are acknowledging the value of having a covenant and our view that the present text is the most satisfactory likely to be produced in these times. The House of Bishops have made clear their view that the covenant is consonant with the formularies and the doctrines of this church. We are not seeking to make the covenant itself part of our formularies, which would extend its range in a manner that could be problematical.”
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