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This paper pursues a canonical definition of membership of the Church of Ireland. Both civil and Church laws presuppose that membership is defined; clergy rely on definitions, both formal and informal. In Ireland, freedom of religion is guaranteed and the courts are reluctant to interfere in the internal affairs of religious entities. Churches are voluntary associations, and church members are bound, inter se, by the church's internal laws as a matter of contract; this is given statutory expression in the Irish Church Act 1869. While the law of the Church of Ireland presents no unified definition of membership, the concept is utilised: strata of membership are manifest in a multiplicity of terminologies and roles. In the dynamics discerned in Church laws (not least the Preamble and Declaration and the Constitution of the Church of Ireland) a nascent definition of membership is detected. Comparison with the Anglican Communion and the ecumenical arena exposes weaknesses in the laws of the Church of Ireland. History indicates that membership was recognised and relied on in an establishment context, but not defined. In this paper, an anatomy of a canonical definition of membership that transcends such self-defining models is posited, based on the proposition that membership is more than what people say they are.
This article compares key aspects of the ecclesiologies of The Episcopal Church and the Church of England. First, it examines and contrasts the underlying logic of their structures and the relationships between their constituent parts (General Synod/General Convention, diocese, parish/congregation). Against this background, it then looks at the place of bishops in the ecclesiologies of the two churches (in relation to clergy and parishes, in relation to diocesan synods/conventions and standing committees, and nationally). The American Presiding Bishop's role is contrasted with the traditional roles of primate and metropolitan. Throughout, attention is given to origins and historical development. Reference is also made to the relevant constitutional, canonical and liturgical provisions. Rapprochement between the two ecclesiologies is noted, especially with respect to the role of the laity, but the article argues that this is far from complete. Each church's ecclesiology continues to be determined by its origins; important modifications have been made within that framework, rather than overturning it. It is hoped that the analysis will illuminate the current disputes within The Episcopal Church and the crisis within the Anglican Communion that they have prompted.
An important recent development in worldwide Anglicanism is the emergence over recent years of a project to articulate the principles of canon law common to the churches of the Anglican Communion. This project seeks to express the juridical character of Anglicanism from a global perspective, not only to underscore the many fundamental values that Anglicans share in terms of their polity, ministry, doctrine, liturgy, rites and property, going to the very roots of Anglican identity, but also as a concrete resource for other churches in ecumenical dialogue with Anglicans. This article traces the development of the so-called ius commune project, describes the methodological challenges which it faces, and the process of producing a draft. It also seeks to compare the project with the juridical experiences of other international ecclesial communities, and briefly to place the project in the context of the debate about the adoption of an Anglican Covenant, an initiative proposed by the Lambeth Commission in 2004.