The Episcopal Church was sanctioned on Thursday during a meeting of the international Anglican Communion. The reasoning behind the sanction is because of the church’s acceptance of same-sex marriage. As a result, the church won’t be able to contribute to internal decision-making or represent Anglicans in meetings with other faith groups.
The Anglican Archbishops elaborated on the sanction in a prepared statement.
“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.”
CNN reports that last June, Episcopalians voted to change their canons to allow same-sex marriage. The effects of that decision are being felt today.
A majority of Anglican Primates said the Episcopal church should “no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal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.”
The Episcopal Digital Network reports that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael B. Curry, told the primates that the sanctions would be difficult for the church to receive.
“Many of us have committed ourselves and our church to being ‘a house of prayer for all people,’ as the Bible says, when all are truly welcome,” Curry said.
“Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all,” Curry continued.
The Anglican Communion is one of the largest religious communions in the world. It’s the third largest Christian body in the world behind the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. There are nearly 85 million members of the communion with 1.8 million represented in the United States.
In recent years, the numbers of the Anglican church have dwindled, but it still remains a decent-sized body of members even today.
“While I understand that many disagree with us, our decision regarding marriage is based on the belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians are true for the church today: All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ,” Michael Curry said.
Curry knows the gay community has been mishandled by the church in the past, and he thinks that these sanctions are only going to add to the pain.
“For many who have felt and been rejected by the church because of who they are, for many who have felt and been rejected by families and communities, our church opening itself in love was a sign of hope. And this will add pain on top of pain,” he said.
This doesn’t mean the communion won’t welcome the Episcopal church back in the future. In fact, a group was assigned to mend the relationship between the two sides over time.
The primates’ statement asked Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to assigning a group “to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognizing the extent of our commonality, and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ.”
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