Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on Wednesday named a mix of conservative and liberal church leaders to a commission that will examine the crisis over homosexuality that has split the Anglican Communion. Williams said the commission, created at an emergency summit of Anglican leaders earlier this month in London, would be chaired by Archbishop Robin Eames, a moderate who leads the Anglican Church of Ireland. The body will study the selection of openly gay cleric V. Gene Robinson as
Bishop of New Hampshire as well as blessings given to same-sex couples by the Canadian diocese of New Westminster in British Columbia, Canada. Anglican leaders warned at the London summit that the consecration of Robinson, scheduled for November 2, could shatter a global communion deeply torn over homosexuality.
Williams said the commission's main task would be to offer advice on finding a way through the crisis. "The primates were clear that the Anglican Communion could be approaching a crucial and critical point in its life," he said in a statement. "The responses of provinces to developing events will determine the future life of our communion in a profound way, and we need to take time for careful prayer, reflection, and consideration to discern God's will for the whole communion. This commission, under the communion's longest-serving primate, is intended to contribute to our finding a way forward."
The membership includes conservative figures such as Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies alongside Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales, who takes a liberal stance on the issue of gay men and lesbians. Others are Norman Doe, director of the Center for Law and Religion at Cardiff University in Wales; Anne McGavin, former legal adviser to the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church; and Tom Wright, the bishop of Durham. Wright earlier this year accused liberals within the Church of England of being motivated by racial superiority in their criticisms of conservative clerics such as Peter Akinola, the archbishop of Nigeria. The commission is due to begin its work early next year and report to Williams by the end of September 2004.