Thinking Anglicans

Panel of Reference Communiqué

Updated Wednesday
The Connecticut Six have issued a press release in response to this.

We, our priests, vestries and congregations, were shocked and gravely disappointed to learn of the Panel of Reference’s actions in causing the Archbishop of Canterbury to withdraw his referral of our applications to the Panel. Our congregations appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, requesting he refer our situation to the Panel of Reference in July 2005 in light of the abusive and hostile actions of the Rt. Rev. Andrew Smith, Bishop of Connecticut….

…Bishop Smith reported at a clergy meeting on February 8, 2006, that the Panel of Reference had notified him of their review and requested a response from him in early January 2006. We received no word from the Panel regarding its communications with Bishop Smith. Now we read in a public document that the Archbishop of Canterbury has withdrawn the Connecticut reference to the Panel “until such time as the matter of the civil cases has been resolved.”

Regrettably, the Panel of Reference did not consult with us or give us an opportunity to speak to their need for a stay of pending civil litigation. Through our counsel, we have repeatedly advised the Diocese of Connecticut that we are agreeable to a referral to the Panel of Reference. Accordingly, we can only assume now that the Diocese and the remaining defendants in the civil litigation have advised the Panel that they will not agree to the Panel’s request to stay the civil litigation. Once again, it appears that the Diocese of Connecticut has denied Parishes the relief and a fair hearing to which they are entitled by evading an acceptable process providing for dispute resolution. Presumably, the Diocese has concluded that it cannot persuade a disinterested mediator of the rectitude of its position…

ACNS has published a Communiqué from the Panel of Reference which reports on a meeting held in London from 9 to 12 May.

It reveals that only three cases have been referred to it so far. Of these:

1. The Diocese of Fort Worth, which does not ordain women to the priesthood, and appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury on the grounds that it is in serious theological dispute with the Episcopal Church, which at its 72nd General Convention in 1997 passed canons to make the ordination of women mandatory. The Panel considered the preliminary draft of its report, and hopes, after consultation with the parties, to publish its recommendations in the near future.

2. An appeal by six parishes in the Diocese of Connecticut against the oversight of their Bishop. Because the Panel decided last year as a matter of principle that it should not normally consider references where civil cases are proceeding, the Archbishop of Canterbury has withdrawn the reference to the Panel until such time as the matter of the civil cases has been resolved.

3. Parishes in the Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada which have appealed for alternative episcopal oversight. The Panel has developed a preliminary draft of its report and representatives of the Panel would be visiting Vancouver in the immediate future in order to meet with both parties.

No mention at all of any other cases, such as Recife or Florida. However, it also says that two additional references were received in the course of the meeting, upon which work was undertaken.

The Panel has also revised its procedures.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
17 years ago

This panel has no standing other than to advise the Archbishop of Canterbury what he might think about the cases he chooses to refer to it. My Primate had no mandate to call for any extra-provincial “court” to be brought into existence and has not sought any mandate for it since. My Province will not allow any reference to be made to this panel, its conclusions will have no force here. The Archbishop of Canterbury has no jurisdiction beyond England, save in those Provinces that reserve to him rights or powers through their constitution or Canons. It was our last… Read more »

17 years ago

Dear Martin, since your current Primate asked for the Panel to be set up, I guess that it will be effectively advising him too… as well as your previous primate!

Marshall Scott
17 years ago

Let’s neither overstate nor understate the importance of the Panel of Reference. They are certainly (and are only) advisory. They will have the authority that any province acknowledges in the instance that a matter is referred and an opinion is issued. That, as with many things Anglican these days,means that primates and provinces will speak with praise of recommendations with which they agree, and will speak with condemnation, or not at all, of recommendations with which they disagree. Primates or provinces will act in response to any recommendation in the same way. So, we await the first real test: whether… Read more »

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x