The Windsor Report 2004

Authority

  1. All of this can be summed up in a word which, though often misunderstood, denotes an elusive sixth element which might hold the key: authority. The Anglican Communion does not have a Pope, nor any system which corresponds to the authority structure and canonical organisation of the Roman Catholic Church. The Anglican Communion has always declared that its supreme authority is scripture. Later in the report we examine what this claim might actually mean, not least the way in which living under scriptural authority is principally the grounding for the church’s mission[24]. In that context, scriptural authority demands, and we believe that in our Communion structures it has begun to receive, appropriately sensitive and fine-tuned systems of decision-making which allow both for the full participation of all members and for an eventual way of making difficult decisions which can enhance, rather than endanger, the unity and communion of our richly diverse family. It is because we have not always fully articulated how authority works within Anglicanism, and because recent decisions have not taken into account, and/or worked through and explained, such authority as we all in theory acknowledge, that we have reached the point where urgent fresh thought and action have become necessary.