Section Three: Our Unity and Common Life
Clause 3.1.3: The central role of bishops as a visible sign of unity was recognised in The Windsor Report (para. 64) where it was stated that, “Bishops represent the local to the universal and the universal to the local”. We note the significance of the Episcopal office for the Communion of the Church as set out in Appendix Two of the Report of the Inter Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission (IATDC), “The Anglican Way: The Significance of the Episcopal Office for the Communion of the Church”.
Clause 3.1.4: There are many and varied links which sustain our life together include: The Anglican Cycle of Prayer, the various commissions, the Mothers’ Union, companion dioceses and parish relationships, mission agencies and networks.
Some comments indicated that the Covenant was somehow “canonizing” four instruments of Communion that have evolved in a somewhat haphazard way. We have therefore amended the text to allow both for the evolution of the Instruments, and to acknowledge the existence of other informal instruments and links.
While the Covenant does not preclude or even seek to limit the possible development of these and other Instruments, we nonetheless believe that the Instruments as now working represent a special means of faithfully maintaining our common life, and ones that need to remain at the centre of our common commitments. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s place within this grouping is maintained, even while his character as a “focus” – according to the redefinition adopted from the Windsor Report by ACC-13 – is acknowledged. The Archbishop of Canterbury exercises his ministry in a collegial manner with his fellow primates.
The order of listing the Four Instruments has been changed to follow their more formal chronological development. Their ministries have been described according to various Communion documents including, in the case of the ACC, its formal constitution.
The history of the Primates’ Meeting is set out in Paragraph 104 of The Windsor Report which states that its purpose was “to initiate consideration of the way to relate together the international conferences, councils, and meetings within the Anglican Communion, so that the Anglican Communion may best serve God within the context of one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” It is noted that in Appendix 1(5) of the Windsor Report it was suggested that the Primates’ Meeting serve as a standing committee of the Lambeth Conference, but since this has not been received by the larger church, the Covenant Design Group decided not to include it in our description.
The Commitments in 3.2
This was the most contentious section of the Nassau draft, and the one which therefore required our greatest attention, and which has been considerably rewritten. In articulating a model for interdependent life, we have tried to be faithful to a few models developed in the Windsor Report. The section therefore begins with a commitment to a common life would also respects the proper autonomy of our Churches.
This statement of the autonomy of the Provinces is taken from that written by the primates in their meeting at Dar es Salaam, " directly from the schedule to their communique from that meeting.
Many commentators on the Nassau draft did not like the pattern of consultation as proposed in the draft, which placed the Primates Meeting in a significant co-ordinating position. The St Andrew’s Draft limits the commitments made by the Churches to ones of care and receptivity with respect to Communion relations. It is open to any Province or the instruments of Communion or indeed the national or regional Church itself to identify matters which threaten “the unity of the Communion” or “ the effectiveness or credibility of its mission”, and which therefore invoke a higher duty of care. The clause sets out four elements to that duty of care: consultation (3.2.5.a), Communion wide evaluation (3.2.5.b), mediation (3.2.5.c) and a readiness to consider a request on the controversial matter from the Instruments of Communion (3.2.5.d). The draft stresses that there is no intention to erect a centralised jurisdiction and that the Instruments of Communion cannot dictate with juridical force on the internal affairs of any Province. However, since Communion is founded on the mutual recognition that each Church sees in the other evidence of our Communion in Christ, we recognize that it cannot be sustained in extreme circumstances where a Church or Province acts in a way which rejects the interdependence of the Communion's life.
We recognize that the Communion may well require more detailed procedures which offer a way in which these principles and procedural elements may be lived out in its life. The group therefore attaches to the St Andrew's Draft a tentative draft for the possible shape such procedures might take. This procedural appendix will need much scrutiny and careful analysis. The CDG particularly welcomes comments and response on this appendix, while also recognizing its provisional nature in the St Andrew's Draft. It is important to note however that the elements set out in clause 3.2.5 are not intended to form a sequential process, but to be elements which can all be active and present at any stage in the process of common discernment and reconciliation.
The commitments close with the renewal of the commitment to seek to live into the fullness of Communion into which we are called by our Lord.
2. The Report, Communion, Conflict and Hope, is to be published by ACO later this year.