Anglicans to ‘punish’ Scottish church for embracing same-sex weddings

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The Scottish Episcopal Church is expected to face ‘punishment’ from the global Anglican Communion for embracing same-sex unions.

Deep divisions have arisen in the global Anglican church over LGBT issues, with a stark contrast between teachings in largely pro-LGBT Western churches and hardline anti-gay Anglican churches in Africa and the Global South.

In the past few years, Western churches have sparked anger from hardline African archbishops by modernising on LGBT rights, embracing gay bishops and same-sex unions.

In an attempt to keep the Anglican Communion from splintering, the Archbishop of Canterbury even dolled out a ‘punishment’ for the US Episcopal Church in 2016, accusing it of making “a fundamental departure from [Anglican] faith and teaching” by allowing its clergy to perform same-sex marriages.

Pro-LGBT voices within the Church of England derided the move as a “farce” and strongly criticised Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby for agreeing to the concession.

But the Scottish Episcopal Church could now face a similar fate.

The Scottish branch of the Anglican movement changed its policy on same-sex unions this year after bishops, clergy and laity all overwhelmingly supported change.

Ahead of a meeting of Anglican Communion leaders next week, reports have emerged that hardliners will push for “consequences” for the Scottish church.

Nigerian archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, previously said he would pursue the issue.

He said in a statement: “There are differing views about same-sex marriage within the Anglican Communion but this puts the Scottish Episcopal Church at odds with the majority stance that marriage is the lifelong union of a man and a woman.

“This is a departure from the faith and teaching upheld by the overwhelming majority of Anglican provinces on the doctrine of marriage.”

He added: “The primates of the Communion will be meeting in Canterbury in October. I am sure [the] decision will be among the topics which will be prayerfully discussed.

“There will be no formal response to the SEC’s vote until the primates have met.”

The Guardian reports that the Scottish church will “face de facto sanctions” from the body.

Despite repeated concessions attempting to hold it together, the Anglican Communion is already in a state of disarray and is unlikely to ever heal its rifts.

The Communion had been due to hold its once-a-decade meeting of global bishops, known as a Lambeth Conference, in 2018.

However, the Conference was delayed over fears that there would be a boycott from hardline bishops.

It is now tentatively scheduled for 2020, but it is unclear whether key African bishops will be attending.

The last Lambeth Conference to actually be held, in 2008, was also boycotted over LGBT rights.

Even the primates meeting set to take place next week will see a smaller-scale boycott.

The Archbishop of Uganda Stanley Ntagali is among bishops planning to boycott the meeting.

Ntagali, who has egged on laws across Africa implementing harsh punishments for homosexuality, said he was not prepared to tolerate people with “an unbiblical view of marriage”.

Ahead of the meeting, Welby had written to the primates from around the world to insist that the Church of England remains opposed to same-sex marriage.

He wrote: “I certainly feel the need to be with you, to share our experience and in prayer and fellowship, to support one another and seek how best we can serve the call to preach the gospel, serve the poor and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”

Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, said: “I support the Bishops’ declaration that doctrine on marriage should not change – that marriage should be a lifelong commitment between a man and woman.

“The Anglican Communion position is set out [opposing same-sex marriage]. That is our lodestar.”