Aspinall said there had been a "general warming" to the idea of a covenant, but acknowledged that there was "increasing realism" among the primates about what a covenant can and can't do. "We're probably pulling back from language about sanctions and teeth," he said, noting that there had been lots of discussion about a framework for "koinonia" -- a Greek word that refers to the relationships of communion.
"If there is a failure in communion, then there needs to be more of an investment" in relationships, Aspinall said. "There is a pulling back from stick-over-the-head sanctions and a move towards deeper relationships of what will make a covenant work."
The provinces have until March 9 to respond to the St. Andrew's Draft. The Covenant Design Group will meet again in April to discuss the responses and perhaps produce a third draft that will be presented to the Anglican Consultative Council, the communion's main policy-making body, when it meets in May.
Appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the primates of the Anglican Communion, the Covenant Design Group has been meeting since January 2007.The idea for an Anglican covenant comes from the 2004 Windsor Report (paragraphs 113-120) and has been supported by all the instruments of communion as a way for the Anglican Communion to maintain unity amid differing viewpoints, especially on human sexuality issues and biblical interpretation.
Aspinall described the covenant as a "moral obligation. We have been thinking of the covenant as each participating church giving a gift to other churches though limiting its autonomy in many ways and not proceeding on certain issues without consultation with other churches."
Primates: change of tone?
Episcopal life Online has an account of the Primates' meeting which suggests a significant change in tone about the Covenant, and throws a bit more light on Radnor's letter.
The primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Aspinall, is the meeting's spokesperson: