The Windsor Report 2004

Part IV: Exercise of Autonomy in Communion

Article 18: The Principle and Nature of Autonomy

  1. Autonomy is a fundamental principle of Anglicanism.
  2. Autonomy is the right of a church to self-government.
  3. An autonomous church has authority only to make decisions for itself in relation to its own affairs at its own level.
  4. Autonomy expresses subsidiarity: decision-making at the appropriate level.
  5. Autonomy is exercised by a church in the context of the wider community of which it forms part.
  6. There are limits on the exercise of autonomy imposed by the relationships of communion, the acknowledgement of common identity, the commitments of communion, and the principles applicable to the management of communion affairs.

Article 19: The Autonomy of Each Church

  1. Each autonomous church has the right to order and regulate its own affairs through its own system of government and law.
  2. Each member church shall be free from control by any decision of any ecclesiastical body external to itself in relation to its exclusively internal affairs unless that decision is authorised under or incorporated in its own law.
  3. The validity within each autonomous church of any ecclesiastical act relating to such internal affairs is governed by the law of that church.

Article 20: Autonomy and Communion Issues

  1. Some issues treated within each church may have a dual character and consist of mixed elements of internal (domestic) concern and of external (common) concern to the Anglican Communion.
  2. Autonomy includes the right of a church to make decisions on issues in those of its affairs which may also touch the Anglican Communion of which it forms part, provided those decisions are compatible with the interests and standards of the wider Communion (as determined in accordance with Part V).
  3. What touches all should be approved by all.

Article 21: Autonomy in Communion

  1. Each church has a fiduciary duty to honour and not to breach the trust put in it by the Communion to exercise its autonomy in communion.
  2. In essential matters of common concern, each church shall in the exercise of its autonomy have regard to the common good of the Anglican Communion.
  3. In such matters, each church shall exercise its autonomy in communion, prior to any implementation, through explanation, dialogue, consultation, discernment and agreement with the appropriate Instruments of Unity.

Article 22: Autonomy, Diversity and Mutual Respect

  1. Diversity is a desirable dimension of the catholicity of the church, a feature of the historic development of Anglicanism, and inherent to the particularity of each member church.
  2. Each autonomous church has the greatest possible liberty to order its life and affairs, appropriate to its Christian people in their geographical, cultural and historical context, compatible with the unity and good order of the Communion.
  3. Each church shall respect and maintain the autonomy of all churches in the Anglican Communion and shall not permit any authority or person within it to intervene in the internal affairs of another member church without its consent.