NEWS | John Sandeman
The heads of Anglican Churches meeting in Canterbury, England have imposed “consequences” on the Episcopal Church (their American branch) for adopting same sex marriage. The US-based church has been to withdraw their representatives from Anglican meetings. The issue of homosexuality has divided the Anglican Communion since 2003 when an openly gay bishop was elected in New Hampshire.
An official statement from the gathering of “Primates” (leaders of national churches around the world) says “Recent developments in The Episcopal Church with respect to a change in their Canon on marriage represent a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces on the doctrine of marriage. Possible developments in other Provinces could further exacerbate this situation.”
A key section adds “It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal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.”
The Episcopal church is the only member of the Anglican Communion to have adopted same sex marriage at present. The Anglican Church of Canada, which will vote on the issue this year, avoided censure because it has not made a formal decision.
A key conservative group of churches known as GAFCON (Global Anglican Future) has Sydney’s former Archbishop Peter Jensen as its General Secretary. “This action must not be seen as an end, but as a beginning”, GAFCON says. “Since the beginning of the crisis in the Communion brought about by the actions of both TEC and the ACoC, the Anglican instruments of unity have been unable to guard biblical truth and restore godly order. There must therefore be doubt about the effectiveness of the sanctions that have been agreed.”
The leader of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, said “The pain for many will be real. But God is greater than anything. I love Jesus and I love the church.”
Archbishop Mouneer Anis, head of the Anglicans of of Jerusalem and the Middle East is regarded as leader of the third world bishops, said ““God responded, praise the Lord! We affirmed with overwhelming majority the traditional and biblical teaching of marriage which is between a man and a woman for life.”