US Episcopal Church censured by Anglican Communion over same-sex marrige issue

Decision has been condemned by the Faith in Marriage Equality in Ireland

A decision by Anglican Communion primates to suspend the US Episcopal Church from committees and decision-making for three years, as it allows clergy perform same-sex marriages, has been condemned by the Faith in Marriage Equality (FiME) in Ireland.

Meeting at England's Canterbury Cathedral this week, the Communion's 38 primates voted by two-thirds majority to censure the US Church. Among the attendance was Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Richard Clarke.

In a statement the primates said they required “that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal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.”

They said that “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.”


They emphasised that “the traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.”

FiME spokesperson and Church of Ireland member Dr Richard O'Leary said "I and many Anglicans in Ireland are appalled at this anti-gay decision by the Archbishops. Many Anglicans in Ireland feel closer to the Anglican Bishops in the USA, who want to bless same sex couples, than to the Anglican Bishops in Uganda and Nigeria who want to jail same sex couples".

Dr O’Leary added: “I am dismayed that the Archbishops’ statement does not even acknowledge the existence of the persecution of LGBT persons in Uganda and Nigeria.”

He said that “Ireland has more in common with LA than Lagos” and “hoped that the Primate of all-Ireland, Archbishop Richard Clarke, can explain the adoption of this fundamentalist, homonegative stance by his fellow Anglican Primates.”

The Church of Ireland will launch a ‘Guide to the Conversation on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief’ in Dublin and Belfast next Monday and Tuesday. It is designed to assist Church members in the process of listening, learning and dialogue on the issue.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times