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Irish support Windsor plan to reform Communion

02 November 2006

THE working group set up by the Church of Ireland General Synod to formulate a response to the Windsor report has recommended a strong and open procedure for dealing with contentious issues.

Offering overwhelming support to the Windsor report itself, the working group said that past procedures for dealing with disputes in the Anglican Communion had been found inadequate, and might prove to be of no use in the future.

Their report is critical of the US dioceses involved in the sexuality debate which have ignored mechanisms for dealing with breach in the Communion. "Any further such actions would have a devastating effect on the Communion," the report warns. Other factors at play include the expansion of the autonomous provinces worldwide, as well as the sexuality debate.

Introducing its report to the Synod, the group's chairman, the Revd John McDowell, said that something more systematic and far-reaching than the existing informal conventional arrangement was needed.

"The provision of a Covenant as a base document seemed to us a helpful and practical suggestion. And in the absence of any more constructive suggestion, the draft Covenant provided in the Windsor report seemed to us to be a good place to begin that debate," he said.

Also favoured is an enhancement of the teaching authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury supported by a council of advice. "We feel this can be achieved without

he creation of a curia within Anglicanism, but we are aware that such a danger should not be ignored."

The Working Group said such a development would be possible only if the method of appointing the Archbishop of Canterbury were agreed by the entire Communion.

The Bishop of Clogher, the Rt Revd Michael Jackson, said that the group was not "starry-eyed" about the Communion, but sought to be constructive about its life.

On sexuality, he said: "We make reference to the complexity of issues affecting members of the Anglican Communion that remain largely unacknowledged and unaddressed.

"It was an African bishop whom I heard asking the question: 'When will Africa admit that Africa is Africa's problem?' - to be greeted only by embarrassed silence on  the part of his African Episcopal brothers."

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