Against this background, what is most remarkable about the Dublin meeting is that its working document on the Primates’ Meeting cites only the preliminary remarks of Archbishop [Donald] Coggan, but makes no mention whatsoever of the subsequent work done to implement those remarks by the Lambeth Conferences and the Covenant in specifying the role of the Primates’ Meeting, work that by now has been accepted by all the Instruments of Communion. As far as one can discern, this established understanding played no role at all in the deliberations at Dublin. While one might try to parse the provisions of the Dublin document to align it to greater or lesser extent with the accepted precedents, the simple fact is that those other sources were not acknowledged, were not quoted and were not even the subject of obvious paraphrase. Those meeting in Dublin staked no claim to continuity with the past, ignoring the will of the most authoritative of the Instruments of Communion””the Lambeth Conference of Bishops.
For all these reasons, the group of Primates who met in Dublin cannot be recognized as acting in accord with the accepted Communion understanding of the Primates’ Meeting as an Instrument of Communion. This Instrument thus joins the others as now being dysfunctional and lacking in communion credibility. The role of the Lambeth Conference as an Instrument of Communion is to “express episcopal collegiality worldwide.” But in 2008, when the bishops of most Anglicans “worldwide” were not present, it could not perform this function. It accomplished little of substance and is now regarded throughout much of the Communion as a symbol of futility. Similarly, the Anglican Consultative Council has been re-structured legally so that it is no longer recognizable as the Instrument defined in the Covenant or in past Anglican documents. The role of the Archbishop of Canterbury as an Instrument of Communion is to function as “a primacy of honor and respect among the college of bishops,” as “a focus and means of unity,” and the one who “gathers” the Lambeth Conference and Primates’ Meetings. Whatever may be said about the cause of the disintegration, it is incontrovertible empirically that Canterbury has been unable to perform this function over the last three years. The Communion thus finds itself with no working Instrument that has been able to perform its necessary function, follow its rules, and garner credible acceptance from the majority of the Communion.
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