With the release of the final draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant, we hear many criticisms being leveled already. While not perfect, this is as good as we’re going to get and I’d like to point out two positive improvements in this draft text.
First, it makes clear that the potential signators of this Covenant are the Provinces of the Anglican Communion. This Covenant is not intended for breakway, so-called Anglicans who wish to sneak in through the back door by signing on to this document. If they are prepared to go through the normal procedures and apply for membership through the Anglican Consultative Council, they are free to do so. But, simply signing on to the Covenant will not regularize their status as members of the Anglican Communion.
Secondly, individual dioceses, synods, parishes or individuals will not be permitted to sign on to the Covenant in any official way. Certainly, anyone may endorse it and pledge to live by its principles (which I myself am happy to do). However, this is but a symbolic gesture. The purpose of the Covenant is to give shape and cogency to the 38 Provinces of the world-wide Anglican Communion — not to create some new “confessional document.”
I believe some kind of Covenant is necessary in our time. True, it is a development in our life, just as the four “instruments of communion” have undergone a process of development over the years. Some think it is a positive development and support it; others that it is a negative development and oppose it.
Now, that we have the final text, let the conversation and the debate begin anew!