A legal framework to unite a faith
Solving the conundrum of greater cooperation and house rules within the church.
Before 2008-9, the worldwide Anglican Communion had no global legal framework for its 44 autonomous churches and their 80 million members.
Historically, the Communion maintained mutual "bonds of affection" on the basis of shared beliefs. Our researchers sought to develop a set of shared principles to bring member churches together and reduce disputes.
A principled approach
Work by Professor Norman Doe within our own law school first identified the need for a framework of 'house rules' for the Communion.
His analysis compared the laws of the 44 autonomous churches in relation to governance, ministry, doctrine, liturgy, ritual, ecumenism, property and finance. The pioneering study uncovered similarities and differences between systems, and proposed a set of shared legal principles underpinning Anglican identity worldwide.
The research led to a statement of the principles of canon law common to its churches, and a covenant for adoption by its churches to regulate their relations.
The research set out 'shared principles' to unite the Anglican Communion's 44 autonomous churches and their 80 million members.
The two documents - Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion, and the Anglican Communion Covenant – have global reach.
They are designed to enable Anglicanism to maintain communion between churches, and provide 'house rules' on divisive issues. Doe's work has led to the establishment of the Anglican Communion Legal Advisers Network and contributed to a change in perception, posture and practice in global Anglicanism.