I wonder about the way he [Dr. Franklin] discerns its character in terms of novelty. Certainly, this has been the source of many criticisms of the proposed Covenant in its very identity: it is somehow an innovation within Anglicanism, some have said, an alien element whose introduction will further just the kinds of “curial” re-orderings of the Communion that will undercut the traditional autonomies the buttress Anglican ecclesial life and witness. So how new is the Covenant’s purpose and form in fact? My main argument below is that it is not new at all. It is, rather, who we already are and are called to be more and more.
First, let us note that my criticism is not one of those Dr. Radner mentions. If anything, traditional catholic ecclesiology supports 'curial re-orderings' and does not support 'traditional [Anglican] autonomies', which are, in the case of TEC, being used as excuses for the undue taking of license - indeed, licen-tiousness. If I were merely a pragmatist, I should support the Covenant's innovations because they tighten the central leadership's reins on erring TEC. My side wins, as it were. But we ought not win practical victories at the expense of our Catholicism. Our souls depend upon it.
But in fact, the Covenant does indeed introduce innovations. Dr. Radner's argument - and we could quote him copiously to this point but, for the sake of brevity, without which no one can please bloggers, we'll move on - Dr. Radner's argument is not that critics of the Covenant are simply hallucinating and there is nothing new in the document. Rather, his point is that the innovations that are being proposed stand at the end of a long and authentically Anglican process which began before Gene Robinson, began in fact with the very exportation of the Faith that created the Communion, and which has only recently been recognized for what it is by documents such as the Virginia Report, the Eames Monitoring Group Report of 1988, and the Windsor Report. These documents describe a movement toward something like a Covenant that has been afoot for some time, but we tend to forget the Winsor Report's and the Covenant's continuity with this process because of the events around GC 03, etc. Dr. Radner believes that whatever the Covenant does to our ecclesiology has actually already been done, that it merely reflects developments that have already taken place in our Communion. The Covenant Design Group puts it this way:
What is to be offered in the Covenant is not the invention of a new way of being Anglican, but a fresh restatement and assertion of the faith which we as Anglicans have received, and a commitment to inter-dependent life such as always in theory at least been given recognition.
The Primates’ Meeting, presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, assembles for mutual support and counsel, monitors global developments and works in full collaboration in doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters that have Communion-wide implications.
. . . to seek the guidance of the Instruments of Communion, where there are matters in serious dispute among churches that cannot be resolved by mutual admonition and counsel:
1. by submitting the matter to the Primates Meeting
2. if the Primates believe that the matter is not one for which a common mind has been articulated, they will seek it with the other instruments and their councils
3. finally, on this basis, the Primates will offer guidance and direction.