Last Sunday, the Sunday Telegraph carried a report by Jonathan Wynne-Jones headlined Church to impose ‘rule book’ of beliefs.
Here’s what is actually happening, based closely on the so-called “bishops’ paper” to which the Sunday Telegraph refers.
The House of Bishops met at Market Bosworth in May. At that meeting they were asked to agree to a process for the Church of England to respond to the request made for all provinces of the Anglican Communion to comment by the end of 2007 on The Proposal for an Anglican Covenant.
This is only the first stage in quite a protracted process, involving the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the subsequent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council and the subsequent submission of a final Covenant text to all Anglican provinces for synodical approval.
The initial process proposed was this:
At the meeting in Market Bosworth, the House of Bishops had before them a draft motion for the General Synod to consider in July, and two further documents intended as drafts of material to resource the July debate. The draft motion was as follows:
That this Synod
(a) affirm its willingness to engage positively with the unanimous recommendation of the Primates in February 2007 for a process designed to produce a covenant for the Anglican Communion;
(b) note that such a process will only be concluded when any definitive text has been duly considered through the synodical processes of the provinces of the Communion;
(c) invite the Presidents, having consulted the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council, to agree the terms for a considered response for submission to the Anglican Communion Office by the end of the year on the draft from the Covenant Design Group.
One of the two further documents is a personal reflection entitled An Anglican Covenant? written by the Bishop of Chichester. The other is a paper entitled The rationale for the development of an Anglican Covenant written by Dr Martin Davie.