Paul Bagshaw has written What is the Covenant supposed to solve?
…But what problems is the Covenant supposed to solve (now, as opposed to when it was first conceived)?
First, the unity of the Communion. Sadly, I think it’s too late – and perhaps was always too late. In fact it increasingly seems that pushing people to sign will be the last step in the de facto schism. By going for a Covenant that was acceptable to a sufficient majority of the players in Global Anglicanism the Covenant Design Group has failed to bring enough of the Communion on board.
Second, to provide the framework for future disputes. Sadly the Covenant procedures will almost certainly only work for little disputes or issues exclusively between two parties. And they could probably be resolved in any framework.
Or they will work to exclude TEC and Canada – and then everyone will take fright because they could be next. They will move quickly to dismantle the Covenant – it will prove to have been a disastrous one-shell cannon.
The Covenant framework will not be adequate to any significant dispute. It’s back-to-front: what happens is that administrative structures & agreements work because people agree to make them work. In normal times conflicts flow through, and are contained by, the channels of the pre-existing system: people and systems are in continual dialogue. In abnormal (though not uncommon) times disputes overflow the system and leave it in pieces. Then people coming together, pick up the pieces and rebuild. The cycle starts over again: systems cannot be imposed without assent.
Third: as one more step in a long-term programme to reform the Communion by centralising and reducing the differences between provinces. This goal might well be met, in part at least, by the process to arrive at a Covenant as much as by the document itself. In the course of debate, it seems to me, the previously normative idea that the Communion was a federal structure with central consultative bodies seems to have been replaced by the normative idea that the Communion is a single entity whose centre needs to be strengthened because its component parts are too fissiparous.