Anglican primates meeting in Canterbury at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, have unanimously agreed to bar a liberal US branch from decision-making for allowing same-sex marriage.
The Anglican Communion has been sharply divided on the issue since the US Episcopal Church ordained an openly gay bishop from across the Anglican Communion began its meeting on Monday as leaders from the 39 provinces gathered for the first time since their meeting in Dublin in 2011 with its new secretary general, Nigeria’s Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon for a crucial meeting to pray and consider the unity of the communion especially with developments at the Episcopal Church.
The primates’ meeting which ends today, is understood as one of the three “instruments of communion”.
Leaders said the church’s stance was a “fundamental departure” from the faith of the majority in what is the world’s third largest Christian denomination.
But Episcopal leaders said the three-year bar, which aims to prevent a formal schism, “will bring real pain”.
The decision—made at a four-day meeting of 39 Anglican primates in Canterbury—means the Church will be suspended from participating in the life and work of the Anglican communion, the BBC reported yesterday.
A statement from the primates at the meeting says that the church should “no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision-making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity”.
More than 100 senior Anglicans had urged the Church of England to repent for “discriminating” against lesbian and gay Christians in an open letter.
However, the Anglican leaders in Canterbury said the Episcopal Church’s approval of gay marriage was “a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching” of the majority of Anglicans.
The rift over the US Episcopal Church’s stance on same-sex marriage and homosexuality dates back to the ordination of openly gay Canon Gene Robinson as bishop of the Episcopal Church’s New Hampshire diocese in 2003.