An Irishman experienced in conflict resolution has been named as secretary general of the worldwide Anglican Communion at a time when it faces schism over the issue of homosexuality.
Rev. Kenneth Kearon, 50, a priest of the (Anglican) Church of Ireland and director of the Irish School of Ecumenics in Dublin , has been active in his denomination’s Church and Society group, which works to break down sectarianism in Northern Ireland .
Announcing the appointment, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said Mr. Kearon had ?invaluable experience, especially in the field of church and community relationships and in mediation and conflict resolution.? Archbishop Williams added, ?He comes at a time when the challenges facing our communion are enormous and the opportunities for mission great.?
The 75-million-strong communion faces schism, with Anglican provinces in the global south generally opposed to liberal policies in the west towards homosexuality.
The crisis was triggered by the election last year of Gene Robinson, who has a male partner, as bishop of New Hampshire in the United States . This was followed by the appointment in April of another gay man, Jeffrey John, as a cathedral dean in England .
The Church of Ireland primate, Robin Eames, welcoming Mr. Kearon’s appointment, referred to ?this time of serious challenge within the Anglican Communion.? Archbishop Eames is currently heading a commission, struck in the wake of the controversy, which is examining the Archbishop of Canterbury’s role when difficulties arise between provinces.
In June, Canadian Anglicans affirmed ?the integrity and sanctity? of same-sex relationships, although they stopped short of accepting homosexual marriages.
Mr. Kearon will take up the London-based post in January, 2005. He succeeds Canon John Peterson, from the United States .