The Anglican Communion voted Thursday to temporarily suspend its American branch, the U.S. Episcopal Church, from key positions in their global fellowship due to conflicting views on gay marriage.
Episcopalians will be excluded from international Anglican committees and from decision-making for the 85-million-member fellowship. The sanctions will remain effective for three years.
The decision came during a weeklong summit for the Anglican Communion held in Canterbury. Though the subject of gay marriage was expected to dominate the this week’s summit, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby had initially proposed that the Communion become something like a loose “federation” that would allow for opposing views while maintaining unity.
Right now, the Church of England officially opposes same-sex marriage, but the pressure to change its views has been mounting for years.
In June 2015, Archbishop Welby expressed “deep concern” over a move within the U.S. Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops to remove references to marriage as a union exclusively between a man and a woman.
The revised marriage rites in Resolution A037 suggested allowing the option of using the words “wife,” “husband,” “person” or “spouse,” to make them potentially applicable for both heterosexual and same-sex couples. This revision came more than a decade after the Episcopal Church appointed its first openly gay bishop.
“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,” an official statement read.
Thursday’s vote asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to “appoint a task group to maintain conversations among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, rebuilding of mutual trust,” RNS reported.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has scheduled a news conference Friday in England to discuss the penalty.