NEW YORK — Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said Friday the U.S. Episcopal Church will not roll back its acceptance of gay marriage despite sanctions imposed this week by Anglican leaders.
In a phone interview from England, where he attended the gathering of top Anglican archbishops, Curry said he told his fellow leaders they should expect no change. The top Episcopal legislative body, called General Convention, last year voted overwhelmingly to authorize same-sex marriage ceremonies in church. In response, Anglican leaders Thursday stripped the Episcopal Church of any role in deciding doctrine or determining how the Anglican Communion operates for three years, effectively reducing the church to observer status in the 85 million-member global fellowship.
“They heard from me directly that that’s not something that we’re considering,” Curry said. “They basically understand we made our decision, and this is who we are, and we’re committed to being a house of prayer for all.”
Curry said the church was resolved to work toward building acceptance of same-sex relationships throughout the Anglican fellowship, which the Episcopal Church represents in the United States. A majority of Anglican leaders at the meeting affirmed the teaching that marriage is only the union of a man and a woman.
“We are loyal members of the Anglican Communion, but we need to say we must find a better way,” Curry said. “I really believe it’s part of our vocation.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the spiritual leader of the Anglican family, had organized the assembly in Canterbury to help avoid a split in the fellowship that had been building for decades over differences about homosexuality, women’s ordination and other issues.
Those rifts blew wide open in 2003 when the New York-based Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in New Hampshire. Ever since, theological conservatives, led by Anglican leaders in Africa, have demanded some penalty for the U.S. church. Many have distanced themselves from the Episcopal Church and in 2009 helped form an alternative to the U.S. denomination, called the Anglican Church in North America.
Welby does not have the authority to force a resolution of the conflict.