Section One: Our Inheritance of Faith
Some responses wondered if the first section on the “One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church” should be framed in terms of “recognition” relating to other Churches’ membership within it. We decided that, in this Covenant, the signatories needed to affirm their own self-understanding, and not their view of other churches, and therefore the covenant itself must be limited to simple affirmation.
The unity of the universal Church is the communion in faith, truth, love and common sacramental life of the several local churches. The catholic Church exists in each local church; and each local church is identified with the whole, expresses the whole and cannot exist apart from the whole.
Some Provinces do not formally recognise the 39 Articles within their canons and constitutions. We, however, accepted one suggestion that the realities of Scripture, Creed, and formularies be more closely linked, but in a way that did not transgress the particular canonical and historical diversity of Anglican churches with respect to the last element.
Some responses questioned whether the Covenant unduly limits the sacramental life of the Anglican churches to only two sacraments (Baptism and Eucharist). There are some different views held among Anglican churches regarding e.g. the “number of sacraments” and their meaning. This statement in clause 1.1.3 is not meant to be an exhaustive treatment of sacramental theology or to resolve questions about the nature or number of the sacraments. The CDG decided, therefore, to stick to the express wording the Lambeth Quadrilateral in this respect, as articulating “constitutive” elements of the Church, without seeking to define further other sacramental realities.
The group have now incorporated (as several submissions suggested) all four elements of the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral in this opening section.
The group have added a clause referring to the importance of Common Prayer as one of the defining characteristics of Anglicanism and of our common bonds.
One of the questions addressed to the Design Group was “Where in the Covenant does the lively and responsible role of human reason, so consistently important to Anglican practice, find a substantive mention?” Taking up one suggestion, the active and disciplined use of reason in theological and moral decision-making, bound to Scriptural authority, was used to replace a previous paragraph (3.3).
The CDG accepted that there is an obligation to work to sustain Eucharistic communion even where there is conscientious objection.