The US Episcopal church has been suspended from the Anglican Communion for three years for “a fundamental departure from the faith” over marriage.
The Episcopal Church changed its church law in 2015 to remove reference to marriage as being between a man and a woman.
During a week-long meeting in Canterbury, the worldwide Anglican Communion decided that the Episcopal Church should not take part in decision making on doctrine for three years.
A conservative grouping of Anglicans – GAFCON – welcomed the decision, but said it was disappointed that there was no mention of the need for repentance over the issue.
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry, speaking before the announcement, said the move would “bring real pain”.
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 unionAnglican Communion
The Anglican Communion’s document said the leaders had “agreed how they would walk together in the grace and love of Christ” while acknowledging the “significant distance that remains” between them.
It continued: “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.”
“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 agreement added, noting: “The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.”
The comments said that the Episcopal Church, “while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion” shall not “take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity” for a period of three years.
It concluded by calling on the Archbishop of Canterbury to set up a group to ‘restore relationships and explore deep differences’.
GAFCON said it was pleased with the sanctions, but said that this “must not be seen as an end, but as a beginning”.
It also said the “continuing brokenness of the Communion” has been caused by “the persistent rejection of biblical and apostolic faith”.