The Anglican Church on Tuesday disciplined its Scottish branch for deciding to allow same-sex couples to get married in its churches.
The Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) voted in June to change its law on marriage, removing the reference to it being between a man and a woman.
As a result the first gay wedding in a UK Anglican church took place last month in Edinburgh, according to British media reports. But while the SEC followed through with its decision — which included a conscience clause for those ministers who do not want to officiate same-sex nuptials — it was also prepared for the consequences.
“I recognise that this decision is one that has caused some hurt and anger in parts of the Anglican Communion,” said Bishop Mark Strange, head of the SEC, at a meeting of Anglican leaders at Canterbury Cathedral in southeast England.
Strange anticipated receiving the same sanction as that handed out to the Anglican Church’s US branch in January 2016 after it approved ceremonies for same-sex marriages. The US Episcopal Church was banned for three years from representing the Anglican Church on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, while also being blocked from decision-making on doctrine or polity.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby confirmed on Tuesday that Anglican leaders gathered at the cathedral made the same decision regarding the SEC. “Bishop Mark said in his opening presentation that he expected that to happen and accepted that it would.
It is left in my hands to follow that through and it will be followed through as I did after the Primates’ Meeting of 2016,” Welby said, referring to last year’s decision against the US Episcopal Church. The archbishop said there had been disappointment and anger aired during the hour-long discussion on the SEC’s decision on same-sex marriage.
The issue has long strained ties within the estimated 85-million-strong Anglican Communion, which includes more liberal members such as the United States and Britain, and conservatives such as Nigeria and Kenya. Strange said that despite Tuesday’s decision, the SEC would continue to play its part in the Anglican Communion.
“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,” he said.