Skip to comments.Panel of Reference Members Pledge to Secrecy
Posted on 07/19/2005 3:32:46 PM PDT by sionnsar
The 13 members of the Archbishop of Canterburys Panel of Reference have sworn an oath of secrecy, pledging not to reveal details of any petition for relief presented to them and to report all contacts with the media to staff assigned as liaisons to the panel. The decision to conduct its deliberations secretly was made at an organizing meeting July 12-14 in London at the offices of the Anglican Consultative Council.
No reason was given for the decision to shield its deliberations from the Church, but observers note that last years Lambeth Commission on Communion was plagued by leaks from staffers and members on both sides of the issue, to the consternation of its chairman, Archbishop Robin Eames of Ireland.
Parishes and dioceses that wish to avail themselves of the Panel of Review process must first petition the Archbishop of Canterbury for relief. The panel will accept only referrals from Archbishop Rowan Williams. After a referral is received, Archbishop Peter Carnley, the chairman, will distribute the petition to the 12 members and notify the primate of the province affected, soliciting his views on the matter.
Archbishop Carnley will then form a subcommittee comprised of at least two members, one clergy and one lay, to examine the dispute. The rest of the panel will be asked to submit responses to the case within 14 days of receipt of the petition. The subcommittee will then initiate an investigation, gathering facts and hearing the arguments. Upon completion and submission of the initial finding, the panel members will be given 14 days to offer comments, critiques and suggestions.
A revised finding, prepared in light of the comments received, will then be circulated to the full panel. Should there be significant dissent, the subcommittee is directed to discuss the matter with the dissenting members with a view to achieving consensus.
The guidelines give Archbishop Carnley coercive power over his fellow panel members in the case of division as dissenters, and the subcommittee shall report the substance of their talks to him and shall follow his directions to achieve consensus.
Once an agreed report is prepared, it will be sent to the petitioner and respondent for comments. The final text of the report will be distributed to the panel for final approval. Should any member dissent from the final text, Archbishop Carnley shall give further directions.
An agreed statement and recommendations will then be forwarded to Archbishop Williams. Should he accept the recommendation, he is constrained in how he proceeds, as he has no authority outside the Church of England. Participation in the Panel of Reference process does not confer jurisdiction upon the Archbishop of Canterbury. The petitioner and respondent are encouraged to accept the recommendations, but cannot be compelled to do so.
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