Archbishop Williams Creates Anglican Panel of Reference to Ease Gay Dispute

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams has established a "Panel of Reference" - an advisory and consultative body created in response to the Primates' call made during their meeting in February.

The Panel will consists of nine people qualified by their professional and pastoral skills and will be appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury as necessary.

The purpose of the panel is to "enquire into, consider and report on situations drawn to my (Dr William's) attention where there is serious dispute concerning the adequacy of schemes of delegated or extended Episcopal oversight or other extraordinary arrangements," wrote Archbishop Williams in his directive issued on 6th May 2005.

Archbishop Williams also asked each bishop in the Communion to "respect fully and in accordance with its spirit any scheme of delegation or extended oversight established in his or her province."

The establishment of the Panel is hoped to be an answer to the disputes among the clergy over the controversy of ordinations of gay bishops and the blessings for same-sex unions. These disagreements have led to problems in accepting the authority of certain bishops' teachings and has brought the Communion close to a fully blown schism.

The most urgent situation is in U.S. Episcopal Church (ECUSA) and in the Anglican Church of Canada, as the issues of the consecration of Gene Robinson and the blessing of public rites of same-sex unions has torn the Anglican world apart.

A spokeswoman of the ECUSA's presiding Bishop expressed that he consider the Panel to be a "splendid idea."

Archbishop Williams announced that the Panel's chair will be the Most Revd Peter Carnley of Australia and eight more members of The Panel will be announced next week from the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace.