The Covenant: What is it all about? Anglican Down Under rightly describes the essay as "a superb apologetic for the whole Covenant". While Philip Turner is pessimistic about the prospects for ratification of the Covenant, he provides a persuasive summary of how the Covenant provides a "thick form of communion" for Anglicanism:
It seems to me that the understanding of communion that has shaped the proposed covenant is vastly superior to the theologically vacuous one favored by many with progressive views and to the impractical confessional one favored by many with more traditional convictions. It provides a way to sustain a thick form of communion within the changes and chances of history and within the conflicts occasioned by differences in culture. It provides a way through history that does not reduce communion (as in the progressive case) to the chance overlap of moral commitments or (as in the traditionalist case) to a fixed point in the history of the church that can serve as a theological north star. The ship that is the church is best guided by common immersion in Holy Scripture and mutual recognition born of a grace filled struggle in the light of scripture’s witness to arrive at truth. That is what the covenant is all about.
Turner also notes that even if the Covenant is not ratified by the Communion, Anglicanism will still be required to address the issue of living as a communion. In such an eventuality, the Covenant will be dead - but long live the Covenant. Those Anglicans committed to communion, orthodoxy and unity will then be required to discern means to live and witness as a communion:
The covenant may indeed fail, but its failure, though a terrible loss, need not mean the end of Anglicanism as a catholic and evangelical expression of Christian belief and practice. Though it may take time, there are other ways to achieve this end. However, even if the covenant does fail it nonetheless charts the way Anglicans must take if the gift they have to offer is to be preserved. For Anglicanism to remain Anglicanism, some way must be found for mutual accountability and recognition to govern relations between self-governing provinces.
One aspect of Turner's essay does, however, give us pause for thought on this Feast of St Augustine of Canterbury. He points to "the virtual disappearance of the Archbishop of Canterbury from the [Covenant] process", going on to describe this as "silence from the center". +Canterbury has previously quite robustly recommended the Covenant to the Communion. But, yes, of late there has been silence.
Perhaps we are right to expect more from +Canterbury at a time such as this. The Windsor Report described the See of Canterbury as the Communion's "pivotal instrument and focus of unity" (WR, 99). The Covenant itself states that the Archbishop of Canterbury has "a primacy of honour and respect among the college of bishops in the Anglican Communion".
As such, the one who sits on Augustine's Chair does have a responsibility not to be silent at this time. If the See of Canterbury is indeed to be an instrument of unity and communion, the false ecclesiology (as in New Jersey's rejection of the Covenant) and the communion-breaking actions of some Anglicans (most recently, the Diocese of Chicago) cannot go unnoticed. We need Augustine's successor to speak.