Updated Tuesday evening
The Church of Ireland has issued two press releases arising from what the Bishop of Cork, the Rt Revd Paul Colton, said at his diocesan synod on Saturday.
Speaking to members of the Church of Ireland in Cork, Cloyne and Ross at their annual Diocesan Synod on Saturday 7th June, the Bishop of Cork, the Rt Revd Paul Colton, said that the proposed Anglican Covenant which will be debated at next month’s Lambeth Conference raises some major issues for the Church of Ireland.
The Bishop said ‘… the proposed Anglican Covenant, if progressed through the central Anglican structures, the so-called Instruments of Unity, and if it is to be binding on the Church of Ireland, will have to come to the General Synod for ratification and incorporation into the law of the Church of Ireland.’
However, he said: ‘We already have our Preamble and Declaration. It too is a solemn document and covenantal in character: a covenant with and between ourselves formulated at a cathartic time of crisis. Drawn up in 1870 in anticipation of the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, it is for us one of our title deeds…
…The Bishop warned that the proposed Anglican Covenant gives the Archbishop of Canterbury significant new powers outside of the Church of England and within other Churches. Bishop Colton said that in spite of the Covenant’s protestations to the contrary, “… agreeing to it would result in compromising the autonomy of the Church of Ireland and other parts of the Anglican Communion.”
Bishop Colton said that while what was being proposed may be necessary to preserve the unity of Anglicanism, the proposal to enhance the powers of the Archbishop of Canterbury represented a partial move “…towards universal primacy at the expense of local conciliarity.”
He argued, therefore, that if this is to happen there would have to be a new approach to the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
He said: “If the Covenant proposals and the framework for resolution of conflict are to be adopted internationally, a new approach to the appointment of future Archbishops of Canterbury will be needed as well as international involvement in those appointments. At a minimum this international involvement should involve a new process of formal and transparent consultation throughout Anglicanism.
“I realise that this will compromise the autonomy of the Church of England and raise issues of leadership, authority as well as constitutional concerns for establishment in the English context, which would in turn have to be addressed; but, equally, not to address this matter will raise ecclesial constitutional concerns throughout much of the rest of Anglicanism.”
The full text of his remarks is available as a PDF file here.