The two opposing sides on the issue of homosexuality in the Anglican Church will meet face-to-face over a panel appointed by the leader of the Anglican Church.
Instead of a verbal battle through the press and website statements, each side will speak directly with one another, with the ability to receive pastoral advice and mediation from the panel, designated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams
The Anglican Church has been embroiled in controversy ever since November 2003, when the Episcopal Church USA consecrated openly homosexual Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.
It is an emergency protection, said Dr. Chris Sugden, a director of Anglican Mainstream, an international body of orthodox Anglicans.
Many of our churches are bleeding. People are saying they cannot remain members of the churches in the US and Canada while this is going on, he added, according to the Times online.
The controversy over homosexuals in the clergy is one that has threatened to fragment the Anglican Church. The newly formed panel is designed to bring proponents of both sides of the debate over homosexual consecration together.
The panel will meet for the first time around July to consider the case of the Rev. Robinson Cavalcanti, a northeastern Brazil Bishop accused of having abandoned the communion of the Church. In March 2004, Cavalcanti attended a confirmation rite in Akron, Ohio, which had not been authorized by the local diocese or Bishop. Those gathered at the rite were opposed to the consecration of the New Hampshire Bishop Robinson.
Although the panel will not have the power to intervene, it will help by bringing in the expertise of a large number of canon lawyers that will help the different parties communicate better in order to avert a schism in the church.
The Anglican Communion churches involved in the dispute over homosexuals will reach a major decision at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, a once-per-decade meeting of bishops and archbishops of the church. The ECUSA was asked to voluntarily withdraw its members from the Anglican Consultative Council until then. The Anglican Church of Canada has also been asked to not take part until the time of that conference.
The mediation panel will be chaired by retiring Primate of Australia, Dr. Peter Carnley. It will also include the Bishop of Birmingham, Dr. John Sentamu, a former Ugandan judge, the Rev.Stephen Trott, a canon lawyer and Church of England rector, according to the Anglican Communion News Service.