Interdependence and mutual accountability have always been the key features of the earlier drafts (Nassau, St Andrew’s, and Ridley) of the Covenant. It is encouraging that these are still at the heart of the final text.
The working party charged with producing this text, especially focusing on section 4, is to be commended. The final text is profoundly Anglican, consonant with the trajectory of the Windsor Process and, it seems to me, is likely to lead to the majority of provinces of the Anglican Communion adopting the Covenant. In the light of recent developments, it may well be that not all provinces will enter the Covenant. Tragically, that may be appropriate at this time.
The working party has explained their guiding principles as “minimal revision” but with some “clearer definition” and “change of tone in language.” I believe they have achieved their aim admirably.
Four key questions are now answered: Can dioceses commit themselves to the Covenant? The Covenant is designed primarily for “Provinces of the Anglican Communion” — these are the “Churches of the Anglican Communion” referred to in the text. However, dioceses are included in the phrase “any ecclesial body” and some dioceses, for instance Communion Partner dioceses in the Episcopal Church, which may wish to commit themselves to the Covenant if their provinces do not, will be allowed to do so. The working party quote again the principles of “The Lambeth Commentary” (September 2008):
If, however, the canons and constitutions of a Province permit, there is no reason why a diocesan synod should not commit itself to the covenant, thus strengthening its commitment to the interdependent life of the Communion.