This statement written from a constitutional and canonical perspective raises very important issues on the actual debate within the Communion. The struggle from constitutional reformers is establish a kind of international rule for the whole communion guarantying a superlative legal instance that defines what is or not is Anglican in essence.
Many of those who defend the Covenant – a body of principles as a standard of faith and legal compromise between provinces – are inspired by a willingness to overcome theological differences. The Covenant as proposed until now is raising many reactions from around the worldwide Communion as a threat to its inclusiveness built trough centuries.
As the Archbishop of Wales told recently: ‘The indications now are that many see it as a contract, a means of ensuring a uniform view on human sexuality enforceable by the threat of exclusion from the Communion if one does not conform. I certainly do not want to sign up to that kind of Covenant.’
We need only a kind of Covenant. Each Christian is sealed in Baptismal liturgy to be a signal of love, peace and justice, continuing the ministry of Jesus. Each Christian is demanded to share body and blood to transform the world in a place where all humankind feel the presence of God. Each Christian is invited to promote the inclusion of all excluded to the great Lord’s banquet.
Trough the times, Anglicanism built a very solid non written constitution as the Bishops’ Document affirms. The Anglican Communion evolution traced quite parallel process of decolonization and creation of political autonomy within international society. The establishment of Provinces with their own canonical laws and self determination transform the Anglican Church in a very spread body o f people living in faith and respecting all the cultural diversities where they are placed. This complex mosaic remaining in communion with no need to have anyone or any instance to rule vertically theirs steps. Differences were managed with comprehensiveness and dialogue.
The instruments of unity gradually established: Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Conference, Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting never were seen as canonical rulers with authority to exclude anyone. The links were more heartfelt that legal. Collegiality and the shared authority were a common and truly accepted spirit of communion.
The crisis raised in our current context because some Anglicans lost their sense of collegiality. This sense will never be surpassed for any kind of proposed covenant. Thus, I agree with the statement published and I hope that its wise approach on the theme will inspire us in these difficult days.