The Windsor Report 2004

A Council of Advice

  1. The Archbishop of Canterbury has a further distinction in relation to the Instruments of Unity, in that he alone is an individual, and not conciliar in nature. This can be a disadvantage when seeking clarity about the occasions when he might have authority to take an initiative in attempting to exercise authority on behalf of the entire Communion. Therefore, the way in which this ministry is supported by the Communion is of the utmost importance. The Commission concludes that the establishment of a Council of Advice would considerably enhance the foundations of any authority on which the Archbishop might feel truly enabled to act. In addition, the relationship between the Archbishop and the Secretariat of the Anglican Consultative Council must be reconsidered.

  2. In order to perform the role which we have set out for the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop should be supported by appropriate mechanisms to ensure that he does not feel exposed and left to act entirely alone, but in a way which is informed by 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. We therefore recommend the establishment of a Council of Advice to the Archbishop to assist him in discerning when and how it might be appropriate for him to exercise a ministry of unity on behalf of the whole Communion. Such a body might be formed 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. However, it will need to be constituted with specific reference to the sorts of expertise upon which the Archbishop of Canterbury may wish to draw in the development of this particular ministry. This may mean that it is preferable to consider a small group of advisers brought together to fulfil this specific role, drawing on the primates of the Communion, and also on the specific expertise understood to be required.