The proposal to develop a covenant for the Anglican Communion is now online. The lengthy proposed process for drafting and approval suggests that we're not going to see significant changes in governance of the Communion anytime soon — if ever. One thing caught my eye in particular, and that's the proposed requirement in paragraphs 23-25 — derived from a suggestion in paragraph 118 of the Windsor Report — that the primates have the right to approve not only the first draft, but also the final draft, before either draft is circulated for review (of the first draft) or adoption (of the final draft) by the various churches of the Communion.
I see no reason to entrust the primates with that kind of gatekeeper authority. The very idea rests on the outdated notion that the church is a flock, of which bishops are shepherds. This notion apparently derives from patristic times: Before leaving for Jerusalem, Paul reportedly exhorted the elders of the church of Ephesus to keep watch over "the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers," and to "[b]e shepherds of the church of God" (Acts 20.28). Perhaps taking their cue from Paul, some early church leaders wrote in a similar vein, notably Ignatius. All this presupposes that the rest of us are sheep who must be led by their wise, benevolent human overseers. Nonsense. Bishops are not divinely-appointed monarchs; they're "hired help," with specific jobs to do. Their opinions are important and valuable. But when they try to overextend their authority — as seems to have been happening of late — they should be gently but firmly reminded of their place.
Query: How much of the kerfuffle about +Gene Robinson's consecration is due to an overly-high episcopology?