Legal advisers examine common canon laws

Published January 1, 2006

Members of the Anglican Communion Legal Advisers’ Network met recently in Toronto to review a draft document prepared in 2002, which outlined a “statement of principles of canon law common within the Communion.”
Norman Doe, an eminent Anglican canonist and professor at Cardiff University and director of its Centre for Law and Religion, drafted the document as part of the Network’s mandate from the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). The Network, established by resolution of the ACC meeting in Hong Kong in September 2002, was also asked to “examine shared legal problems and possible solutions” among members of the Communion.
“It’s still a work in progress,” said Canon Robert Falby, chancellor of the diocese of Toronto and a member of the Network, who attended the recent meeting. He said the Network has not discussed what will happen to the document once it has been finalized.
In a speech at the primates’ meeting in 2001, Mr. Doe stated that “Anglican canon laws are ambivalent to global communion,” and that, “indeed, lack of developed law in churches on inter-Anglicans increases the likelihood of conflict.” He also suggested that the canon law of each church “could be more fully developed to enhance communion” and also to “define inter-Anglican relations, and treat inter-Anglican conflict.”
During its 2002 meeting in Lambeth, the legal advisers of 17 member churches identified 15 current legal issues affecting various provinces of the communion, among them the applicability of civil law standards to the church, arbitrary action by bishops, secret societies, marriage and polygamy, inter-Anglican relations (recognition of ministry and territorial jurisdiction), among others.


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