In Brief: Recommendations on the Windsor Report

October 18, 2004

An enhanced role for the Archbishop of Canterbury (108-110)

Pointing out that the Archbishop stands at the centre of each of the four "instruments of unity," and as the one factor common to all, the report said he "must not be regarded as a figurehead, but as the central focus of both unity and mission" for Anglicans, with authority to "articulate the mind of the Communion" in controversies and to "speak directly to any provincial situation on behalf of the Communion" without being viewed as an outside interference.

Regarding the Primates Meeting and the Lambeth Conference, "This Commission is of the opinion that the Archbishop has the right to call or not to call to these gatherings whomsoever he believes is appropriate," the report said.

A Council of Advice (111-112)

The Commission concludes that the establishment of a Council of Advice, composed of "suitable persons, who would possess a knowledge of the life of the Communion, and of the theological, ecclesiological and canonical considerations which might apply to any given situation," would provide support for the Archbishop when hard decisions needed to be made. Its membership could come "from any existing council of the Communion, possibly the Joint Standing Committees of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates' Meeting, or a smaller advisory council drawn from the membership of these bodies." In addition, the relationship between the Archbishop and the Secretariat of the Anglican Consultative Council must be reconsidered.

An Anglican Covenant (117-120)

The Commission recommends the adoption by each church of its own simple and short domestic 'communion law,' authorizing its primate to sign and promising to adhere to the terms of a common Anglican Covenant, similar to ecumenical agreements provinces have already made with churches outside the Communion. The Covenant would deal with "the acknowledgement of common identity; the relationships of communion; the commitments of communion; the exercise of autonomy in communion; and the management of communion affairs (including disputes)." Such a Covenant would require a lengthy process of approval, including legal authorization by each province's governing body.

On elections to the episcopate (124-135)

Since a bishop "represents the local church to the wider, but also the other way round," elections to the episcopate must be evaluated for their broader consequences and the acceptability of candidates for the office, but a "change of attitude" rather than a "new tier of formal process" is recommended.

In a footnote, the report stated that its authors "do not agree" that the consecration of Robinson was invalid "since it was lacking in appropriate intention," but the authors urged the proposed Council of Advice to "keep the matter of his acceptability under close review" and the Archbishop to "exercise very considerable caution in inviting or admitting him to the councils of the Communion."

The Primates' Joint Standing Committee is to find "practical ways" to institute the 'listening' process on same gender relationships recommended by the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

Recommendations arising from the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire (134)

ECUSA is "invited to express its regret" for the pain its actions caused other members of the Communion and its desire to remain part of the Communion, and to effect a moratorium on any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union "until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges."

Robinson's consecrating bishops are "invited to consider... whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion."

Recommendation on Rites of Blessing of Same Sex Unions (143-145)

The report asks bishops not to authorize public Rites of Blessing for same sex unions, and recommend that those who have already done so "express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached" by doing so-and until they apologize, "withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion."

The report calls for "continuing study of biblical and theological rationale for and against" same-sex unions-a call that "does not imply approval of such proposals."

Recommendations on alternative pastoral oversight

A "conditional and temporary provision of delegated pastoral oversight" is recommended as a "last resort" for those who dissent from the decisions of their bishops. The report commends the proposal for "delegated episcopal pastoral oversight" or DEPO set out by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA) in its March 2004 report "Caring for all the Churches."

The idea of parallel jurisdictions is rejected, and bishops who have intervened in other jurisdictions without permission are asked to "express regret for the consequences of their actions...affirm their desire to remain in the Communion... effect a moratorium on any further interventions... [and] seek an accommodation with the bishops of the dioceses whose parishes they have taken into their own care."

"We further call upon those diocesan bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA) who have refused to countenance the proposals set out by their House of Bishops to reconsider their own stance on this matter," the report adds. "If they refuse to do so, in our view, they will be making a profoundly dismissive statement about their adherence to the polity of their own church."