Although we have written before of our concerns over the substance of the new Articles of Association of the Anglican Consultative Council, until now we have said little about our concerns over the procedures followed by the Anglican Communion Office in managing the development of these Articles. Others voiced complaints and we remained hopeful that the ACO would respond to these complaints with transparency and by providing satisfactory answers. This has not happened.
We are dismayed that the Communion Office is either unable or unwilling to provide even the most basic information to those who have raised serious concerns: what information was provided to the provinces; when was it provided; and what was their response. An amendment of the constitution is a significant action by an organization, especially one subject to legal duties. Maintaining this information is the most basic level of diligence required of an organization’s secretariat. The lack of transparency and public accountability throughout this process is one of the most regrettable episodes of Communion life in recent years.
Our concerns are only heightened by information suggesting that the ACO may not have followed advice given to it on the necessary procedures for adopting the new Articles. In November 2008 Robert Fordham of Australia, then a member of the ACC standing committee and the “convenor” of its “sub-committee on Constitutional Issues,” addressed the Joint Standing Committee on the status of the new constitution and “what steps have to be taken at this stage.” He advised that the revised draft of the Articles needed to be submitted to the provinces for ratification at that time. He noted that after ACC-13 had approved a draft of the new Articles in 2005 the ACC’s legal advisor, Canon John Rees, had held “extensive discussions” with the UK charity commission and had engaged in “considerable work” to produce a new draft for the February 2008 JSC. At that meeting in February 2008, the JSC then amended the draft further before approving it. Mr. Fordham then states:
The next and final step is to circulate the Constitution in this new format to each of the Member Provinces of the Communion to seek their ratification. For the new Constitution to come into effect support will be required from two-thirds of the 39 Provinces.