Archbishop names group to tackle gay bishop crisis

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, named a combination of liberal and conservative figures yesterday to sit on a commission set up to tackle the crisis over homosexuality in the Anglican Communion.

The body, created after this month's summit of the Anglican primates at Lambeth Palace, will be chaired by the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Dr Robin Eames. It will start work in the New Year with a deadline of reporting to Dr Williams by the end of September 2004.

The expected consecration on Sunday of Canon Gene Robinson, an openly gay man who has a long-term male partner, as Bishop of New Hampshire in the United States will be studied by the commission. The body will also examine the authorisation of same sex blessings in the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada.

The membership includes conservatives such as Archbishop Drexel Gomez, Primate of the West Indies, as well as figures such as the Primate of Wales, Archbishop Barry Morgan, who takes a liberal stance on homosexuality. Also on the commission are Professor Norman Doe, director of the centre for law and religion at Cardiff University, Wales; Ms Anne McGavin, advocate, and former legal adviser to the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church; and the Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright.

Dr Wright accused liberals within the Church of England earlier this year of being motivated by racial superiority in their criticisms of conservative clerics such as the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola.

Dr Williams said the commission's main task was to offer advice on finding a way through the situation and to "discern God's will" on the issue, which is threatening to divide the communion.

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