Drawn up by a 12-member international team meeting in England, the covenant is the second draft to be proposed; the first draft was released last year and roundly criticized. This draft will be discussed and amended at the Lambeth Conference, a meeting of nearly 600 Anglican bishops, in July. Implementation is likely years away.
While asserting the autonomy of each province, the covenant nonetheless lays out a process through which threats to the “unity of the Communion and the effectiveness or credibility of its mission” may be challenged.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, who heads the Church of England and is recognized by Anglicans as the “first among equals,” would be given the power to make “requests” of national churches based on those challenges. The Most Rev. Rowan Williams is the current Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Anglican Consultative Council, an international body appointed by the 38 provinces, would be the last court of appeals on all disputes. It would have the power to determine if a province has “relinquished the force and meaning” of the covenant, the consequences of which are not specified.