The Anglican news is that the Archbishop of Canterbury Commission has sent requests for comments on the, "ministry of the archbishop" to all of the Anglican "provinces." There is a lot going on here, none of it good.
Item one, the members of the Anglican Communion are autocephalous1 churches. That is they are in communion with, not subject to the Church of England. Dr. Williams never quite got that concept, and his stamp is evident in the language now in vogue among the hierarchs.2
Item two, the effort here is to act as though nothing much happened when the synods of the Church of England said no to the Covenant. The Archbishop is Primate of All England. He is not primate of the world, albeit again, it is not clear that everyone gets that.
It is the extra-Canterbury offices that have been expanded and empowered in the language of the Covenant. It may surprise readers to know that no official body of the individual churches, save possibly by implication, the few that have signed the Covenant, has ever confirmed the title, "instrument of communion." In fact, other than the Covenant, no inter-Anglican agreement has ever ratified the existence of such things as, "instruments."
So, what the commissioners are doing is acting as though the Covenant has standing. At one level, this is the stuff of, "Through the Looking Glass." Reality is what the Church of England's hierarchy says it is. At another it is very real-politic, an attempt to create, "facts on the ground." The idea is fairly simple: act as though the title of archbishop carries with it the title, or at least function of, "instrument of communion." and it does. OK, it is a bit dishonest, but that is among the least dishonorable thing we have seen from the hierarchs of late.
So here is a suggested response to the request:
The next Archbishop should concentrate on making the Church of England more democratic and focused on its synodical government. In doing this he should formally disassociate his office from the idea of, "instruments of communion" and seek to move the communion away from hierarchical structures and concepts.
Ah well, I can dream. I doubt anyone in any church has the courage to say that. None-the-less, they should!FWIW jimB
1) click here for a definition.
2) click here for a definition.