The leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion imposed consequences against the Scottish Episcopal Church on Tuesday for allowing and performing gay marriages.
Bishop Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, told the gathering of primates, or Anglican leaders, that the Scottish Episcopal synod accepted the consequences for their June decision, which bars the church from taking part in Communion-wide decisions and from sitting on any church-governing bodies for three years, according to Anglican News. The Scottish church nevertheless remained resolute in both supporting gay marriage and maintaining its membership in the Anglican Communion.
“We will continue to play our part in the Anglican Communion we helped to establish, and I will do all I can to rebuild relationships, but that will be done from the position our Church has now reached in accordance with its synodical processes and in the belief that love means love,” Strange said, according to Anglican News.
The Anglican Primates enacted the same punitive measures against the Scottish synod as they enacted against the U.S. Episcopal Church in 2016 over their decision to support and perform gay marriage as well. The issue of gay marriage within the Anglican Church, among other theological issues, has some worried that a schism may be imminent. The primates of Uganda, Nigeria, and Rwanda refused to attend the Primates Meeting, boycotting the gathering to protest what they saw as a trend toward acceptance of gay marriage within the Anglican church.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, leader of the Anglican Communion, said that a church split was not a fore-drawn conclusion, but that there could be no realistic compromise between conservative and liberal Anglican leaders over the issue of gay marriage. (Related: No ‘Straight Answer’ To Whether Gay Sex Is Sin, Says Archbishop Of Canterbury)
“That’s a fact, and it’s no use pretending it isn’t” Welby said according to The Guardian.
Welby told Anglican News that the decision to punish the Scottish synod, and the discussion surrounding the issue, were tense and grievous for all involved.
“We talked about things this afternoon of huge importance … People were disappointed. They were angry. But it was a very different mood to many previous Primates’ Meetings. It was more of a family that is having to face the fact that something has happened that is causing grief than a club that doesn’t like one of its members,” Welby said.
“We were quite clear – people were very clear about how disappointed they were. But I think the mood in the room – and how I will feel – is just grieved that one has to do things that no one likes – that I don’t like – doing. You want people to be united, joyful, celebrating together,” Welby added.
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