The second draft of the proposed international Anglican covenant shows “a significant improvement” from the previous one although there are still some areas that require “greater clarity,” the Anglican Communion Working Group told members of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) at its May meeting.
“It is clear that provinces were heard, concerns about confessionalism were allayed, there were serious efforts to address the central role of worship and prayer in holding us together,” Bishop George Bruce of Ontario, who chairs the working group, told CoGS in his report. “Almost all the Canadian concerns were addressed in this draft.”
The new draft, called the St. Andrew’s draft, recognizes that the covenant process will be “slow and careful,” the group said in a written report. “We believe that (it) has taken into account concerns expressed about the role of the primates’ meeting and provides a much clearer recognition of the role of laity and of the synodical decision-making processes in dioceses and provinces throughout the communion.” Efforts have also been made “to clarify understanding of autonomy and interdependence,” the group said.
However, the group said, its “greatest area of concern” was with the “unnecessarily legalistic” and “unnecessarily antagonistic tone” of the appendix, which could open “a Pandora’s box of potential complaints.”
It noted that “there was a distinct change in tone in the language of the appendix and that, while the tentative and provisional nature of the procedures outlined in the appendix is highlighted in both the communique and the commentary, its presence as the only possible option for conflict resolution gives it greater significance than we believe is either intended or warranted.”
The group said that the new draft remains unclear about how “common mind” in the communion can be achieved.
Questions also remain on what the document means when it uses the word “church,” the group added. “While this is an ecclesiological question, it needs to be answered so that all readers understand the same thing.”
The draft doesn’t explain how the covenant would affect ongoing bilateral and communion-wide dialogue with Lutheran, Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.
CoGS, by consensus, voted to receive the working group’s report and to have it forwarded to the Covenant Design Group as a preliminary response to the St. Andrew’s draft. It was also forwarded to the Canadian bishops “for their use both before and during the Lambeth Conference.”