THE Archbishop of Canterbury has attacked the notion that the fourth section of the proposed Anglican Covenant is a tool to chastise dissenters within the Anglican Communion.
Dr Williams has released a strongly worded defence on YouTube. He describes as “completely misleading and false”, suggestions that the Covenant is “some sort of centralising proposal, creating an absolute authority which has the right to punish people for stepping out of line”.
Instead, it suggests a “process of scrutiny” for new ideas, carried out in the light of their effect on the whole Anglican community. “What the Covenant proposes is not a set of punishments, but a way of thinking through what the consequences are of decisions people freely and in good conscience make.
“It is not a disciplinary system: it’s about a process of discernment and discussion. Nobody has the power to do anything but recommend courses of action; nobody is forced into doing anything.”
He points out that it would be relevant to much more than current issues, such as the debate over human sexuality. “There could be many other developments — about how we understand our ordained ministry, how we understand our mission, the limits of diversity in our worship — even, perhaps, in the public language we use in doctrine.”
“In terms of the Church of England,” he said, “it means that we understand and accept that the Church of England is part of the Anglican family, not some special isolated little bit that doesn’t have to ask these questions.”