Council endorses provincial autonomy, vetoes central ‘curia’

Published January 2, 2008

Mississauga, Ont.
The Council of General Synod (CoGS) reviewed the Anglican Church of Canada’s preliminary response to the Draft Covenant for the Anglican Communion and proposed some changes, among them, that there be a more forthright expression of the autonomy of individual provinces and a principle of not intruding on each other’s affairs.

A common covenant for Anglican churches was among the recommendations of the Windsor Report, published by the Lambeth Commission, which was established to seek ways of arresting a schism in the Anglican Communion. The Communion has been bitterly divided over the consecration of a gay bishop in the United States and the blessing of same-sex unions in the Vancouver-based diocese of New Westminster. A communion-wide working group prepared the draft for submission to the communion’s Covenant Design Group. (The Covenant Design Group issued its draft report in February 2007.)

In its response, CoGS said it hoped that a covenant “would promote mutual responsibility and interdependence within the Communion.” However, it expressed reservations about the constitutional example provided in the Windsor Report, saying it was “too detailed in its proposals and we are concerned that such a model might foster the development of a complex bureaucratic structure which might stifle change and growth in mission and ministry.”

It also affirmed that “we do not favour the accumulation of formal power by the Instruments of Unity, or the establishment of any kind of central ‘curia’ for the Communion.” (The Vatican’s curia is a centralized administrative body functioning under the pope’s authority.) A number of CoGS members said they were “troubled” with a proposal that provinces “heed the counsel of our Instruments of Communion in matters which threaten the unity of the Communion and the effectiveness of our mission.”

(The Anglican Communion is said to be served by four “Instruments of Unity”: the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Lambeth Conferences of bishops; the primates’ meetings and the Anglican Consultative Council.)

The church also asked for more time to study the proposal, which it said would have “long-term implications for all Anglicans.”


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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