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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 22, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 04
Anglicans apologize to Gays, then punish Episcopalians for blessing same-sex marriage
Section One
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Anglicans apologize to Gays, then punish Episcopalians for blessing same-sex marriage

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

In a desperate bid to keep their church from splitting over LGBT rights, the world conference of Anglican bishops adopted a schizophrenic policy - apologizing to its LGBT members, but also punishing the U.S. Episcopalian Church for blessing same-sex marriages.

The Anglican Communion includes the Church of England and the Episcopal Church in the United States, but more than half of its 86 million members are in African dioceses, where bishops are committed to maintaining old colonial-era laws against Gay sex.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby - the head of the worldwide Anglican Church - warned at the outset of the annual conference that the church was in danger of breaking apart over LGBT issues.

As the conference closed, Welby said that he had battled to keep the warring liberal North American and conservative African wings of the church together in the face of threats of a permanent schism.

'I don't agree with everyone around the communion, and they certainly don't agree with me,' he said in an indication of the fractious debate within the church.

In a major speech, Welby made an apparently heartfelt apology to LGBT Anglicans.

'It's a constant source of deep sadness that people are persecuted for their sexuality,' he said.

'I want to take this opportunity personally to say how sorry I am for the hurt and pain, in the past and present, that the church has caused and the love that we at times completely failed to show, and still do, in many parts of the world, including in this country.'

Nevertheless, Welby went along with a move to discipline the U.S. church because it permits same-sex marriage.

'We are very careful not to use the word sanctions,' he warned, '[but] if any province is out of line, there will be consequences.'

For the Episcopal Church - the American branch of the Anglican Communion - the consequence of supporting marriage equality was a three-year suspension from official meetings of church policy-making bodies.

Episcopal leaders said they would remain within the Communion, but would also continue to bless same-sex marriages.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry told the conference that he remained 'committed to 'walking together' with you as fellow primates in the Anglican family,' but lamented their decision.

'For fellow disciples of Jesus in our church who are gay and lesbian, this will bring more pain,' he said.

Outside Canterbury Cathedral, the mother church of Anglicans, where the conference took place, some 40 angry LGBT Anglicans from African countries protested the sanctions on the U.S. church. According to the Guardian newspaper, the groups held signs with slogans like 'Anglican Archbigots, shame on you' and 'Homosexuality is African, homophobia is not.'

A Gay Nigerian Anglican who identified himself only as 'Chijioke' said African bishops should worry about bad governments and poverty rather than obsessing about issues of sexual orientation.

'We have been made to feel that we are nobody. That is not what the church should do. God created all of us,' he said.

Meanwhile, a member of Britain's House of Lords has asked the British government to consider disestablishing the Church of England in retaliation for its continuing discrimination against the LGBT community.

Lord Scriven submitted a written question to the Ministry of Justice asking 'whether they plan to set up a commission to look at the question of the disestablishment of the Church of England, in the light of the communiqué from Anglican Primates about homosexuality and same-sex marriage.'

As the established state church, the Church of England enjoys a number of special legal rights, as well as getting 26 seats in the House of Lords reserved for bishops. Scriven told PinkNews that the Church's actions are 'institutionally homophobic' and that he 'hopes the [government's] answer [on disestablishment] is yes.'

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