|The Right Reverend Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover|
Neither mentions that the Bishop is factually incorrect. He is quoted as saying,
Contrary to what some might argue, it [the Covenant] does not, in my judgment, create new structures or new authorities.In fact, first, the proposed Covenant explicitly requires new structures:
(4.2.9) Each Church undertakes to put into place such mechanisms, agencies or institutions, consistent with its own Constitution and Canons, as can undertake to oversee the maintenance of the affirmations and commitments of the Covenant in the life of that Church, and to relate to the Instruments of Communion on matters pertinent to the Covenant.These new 'mechanisms' will, of course, require a Communion-wide co-ordinating mechanism. They are necessary because the Covenant require much greater mutual scrutiny. The process will inevitably constrain decision making inside provinces.
Second, I agree that the Covenant does not create new authorities, but only so long as you hold a narrow understanding of the term.
However the Covenant would give existing authorities significant new powers. The simple existence of these new powers, even before they are exercised, will change the nature of the authorities concerned. For example,
(4.2.2) The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, responsible to the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting, shall monitor the functioning of the Covenant in the life of the Anglican Communion on behalf of the Instruments. In this regard, the Standing Committee shall be supported by such other committees or commissions as may be mandated to assist in carrying out this function and to advise it on questions relating to the Covenant.
The 'Instruments of the Communion' (the Primates' Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Archbishop of Canterbury) would also be accorded new powers. In 4.2.5, acting on the recommendation of the Standing Committee, they may implement interim sanctions against a member province. I.e.
(4.2.5) ... relational consequences which may specify a provisional limitation of participation in, or suspension from, that Instrument until the completion of the process set out below.In 4.2.6 & 7 this process moves from 'provisional' to final:
(4.2.7) On the basis of the advice received, the Standing Committee shall make recommendations as to relational consequences which flow from an action incompatible with the Covenant. These recommendations may be addressed to the Churches of the Anglican Communion or to the Instruments of the Communion and address the extent to which the decision of any covenanting Church impairs or limits the communion between that Church and the other Churches of the Communion, and the practical consequences of such impairment or limitation. Each Church or each Instrument shall determine whether or not to accept such recommendations.
|OK - now let go, and then grab someone else's wrist|
The Covenant schema uses the existing authorities of the Communion: in that sense they are not new. But I would argue that the changes are so fundamental to relationships within and across the Communion that this amounts to re-constituting the authorities. In that sense the Covenant will create new authorities vested with powers that currently do not exist.
I dare say the Bishop is a busy man and was ill-advised. But to argue for such fundamental change without understanding the text and minimising the extent of the practical and conceptual changes to the Communion that the Covenant, if adopted, would usher in is, at the very best, careless.
The detail matters because it is the detail that will be implemented, not any individual's judgment.