Saturday, October 16, 2004


Do you remember the Primates Meeting at Kanuga, USA, four years ago when it was most difficult to get near to the Primates because of the local ECUSA security?

Was it not there that a major speaker was Professor Norman Doe of the Faculty of Law at the University of Wales? The paper he gave was on the Website of the Office of the Anglican Communion for a while.

He was advocating the moving towards a common core of canon law for all the Provinces of the Anglican Family, so that each one would be tied through this core in a common bond to the others. (Right now many constitutions do not state the relation of a province to the whole Communion but they do state ecumenical relations with Lutherans or others!)

[In our submission to the Archbishop's Commission, the writers of To Mend the Net actually recommended this same development - a core of common canon law.]

What is apparently in The Windsor Report, due the 18th Oct., is a major proposal drafted by Doe that is a development of this idea which he has been floating and developing since Kanuga. (Actually there have been several meetings of canon lawyers from around the Communion in recent years to talk about common canon law.)

It appears (if Ruth Gledhill read/heard properly what she was shown) that it is proposed that there shall be a covenant which will be accepted by each province and become part of its constitution. By this covenant each province will be tied to other provinces that also have this covenant, tied in a legal and moral way. This covenant will obviously state some minimal position with regard to worship, doctrine and discipline and not to accept it, or to set it aside after acceptance, will lead to automatic departure from the communion.

Of course bright ideas are easier written or spoken than put into effect and achieved! But this good idea seems to be intended to put the onus on the offenders rather than causing the non-offenders to seek to discipline the offenders, not only in sexual sins but also in matters of doctrine and discipline. However. it will take more than a year to find out whether this covenant will work as a centripetal force for good! It is not an instant remedy.

Apparently this Common Core or Covenant or Common Canon Law will act as a fifth Instrument of Unity -- with The See of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates Meeting. (Cf. the three Formularies of the Anglican Way -- the classic BCP, the Ordinal and the Articles of Religion - with sometimes the fourth being Canon Law. Regrettably in quests for unity these days most Anglicans seem to forget the Formularies as the Basis of the Unity of Anglicans.)

Those who want to sample the work of Professor Doe should read his CANON LAW IN THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION. A WORLDWIDE PERSPECTIVE, Oxford Univ (Clarendon) Press.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

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