Conservative Anglicans win same-sex marriage battle

Pic: William Murphy

Pic: William Murphy

The worldwide Anglican Communion has acceded to the demands and threats of anti-gay church leaders.

On Thursday, the church released a statement announcing that it had decided to suspend the USA’s Episcopal Church for “unilaterally” accepting same-sex unions.

The decision was taken at a meeting of global Anglican Church leaders, known as primates, in the English city of Canterbury to deal with “deep differences” on gay clergy and same-sex marriage.

Conservative and homophobic Anglicans, largely from Africa, had threatened to walk out of the global body over the issues unless they got their way; a strategy that appears to have worked. Around 50 million of the world’s estimated 86 million Anglicans are from Africa.

In the statement, the primates said that the Episcopal Church’s more progressive stance on gay and lesbian marriage represents “a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our provinces on the doctrine of marriage.”

As a result, they decided to suspend the Episcopal Church for three years from being allowed to take part in any decision making bodies of the Anglican Communion. The Americans will, for that period, only have observer status.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was also asked to appoint a task group to restore “mutual trust” and heal “the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences…”

While the decision was seen as a victory for conservative elements of the church, which have united under the GAFCON umbrella, the group responded that the primates’ move did not go far enough.

In their own statement, GAFCON Chairman, the Rev. Dr. Eliud Wabukala, and GAFCON General Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Peter Jensen, said while they were pleased with the “sanctions… applied to the Episcopal Church of the United States”, the “action must not be seen as an end, but as a beginning.”

They expressed concerns that other provinces, such as the Anglican Church of Canada, will follow in the steps of the US church and also complained that the primates’ statement “made no reference to the need for repentance.”

Divisions in the Anglican Church erupted in 2003, when Gene Robinson was elected the Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in the US Episcopal Church. This made him the first openly gay, non celibate priest to be ordained as bishop in a major Christian denomination. Tensions were heightened in July 2015 when the Episcopal Church officially allowed the affirmation of same-sex marriages.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend