Episcopal Church Will Not Cease Its Support for Gay Marriage, Says Bishop Curry

The Reverend Michael Bruce Curry(Photo: Reuters/Mike Theiler)The Reverend Michael Bruce Curry (L) makes remarks as members of the clergy attend prior to his Installation ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral, in Washington, November 1, 2015.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has declared that the denomination will not cease its support for gay marriage despite its three-year suspension by the Anglican Communion last week.

"They heard from me directly that that's not something that we're considering," Bishop Michael Curry told The Associated Press on Friday, talking about the sanctions imposed on the denomination after its leaders refused support the biblical definition of marriage. "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."

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At the same time, however, Curry said he wants to continue working toward Anglican unity despite the different points of view on the divisive issue.

"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(Photo: Reuters/Toby Melville)The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (L) speaks with protestors in the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, southern Britain January 15, 2016. The Anglican Church has slapped sanctions on its liberal U.S. branch for supporting same-sex marriage, a move that averted a formal schism in the world's third largest Christian denomination but left deep divisions unresolved. The Anglican communion, which counts some 85 million members in 165 countries, has been in crisis since 2003 because of arguments over sexuality and gender between liberal churches in the West and their conservative counterparts, mostly in Africa.

Leaders representing the worldwide Anglican body announced on Thursday that they are suspending The Episcopal Church, due to its vote in 2015 to authorize same-sex marriage ceremonies in church.

The Primates explained their decision in a statement: "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.

"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," they added.

Curry admitted in a video statement on Friday that the outcome of the meeting was not expected, and said that the Episcopal Church is disappointed — though reminded viewers that the Anglican Communion is more a "network of relationships" than a system of structure and organization.

"The truth is, it may be part of our vocation to help the communion and to help many others to grow in a direction where we can realize and live the love that God has for all of us, and we can one day be a Church and a communion where all of God's children are fully welcomed, where this is truly a house of prayer for all people," Curry added in the statement.

Archbishop Justin Welby, the leader of the Anglican Communion, said that Episcopalians can "no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies," however, and said that the Church will no longer be able to vote or fully participate in Anglican committees.

Welby insisted that despite the suspension, Anglicans remain committed to battling "homophobic prejudice and violence."

"For me, it is a constant source of deep sadness that people are persecuted for their sexuality," Welby said at end of the meeting last week.

He expressed "how sorry I am for the hurt and pain in the past and present that the church has caused and the love sometimes that we have completely failed to show."

A leading source of discontent against the Episcopal Church were African and Asian bishops who said that moving away from the traditional definition of marriage was unacceptable and previously threatened to walk out of the meeting if their concerns were not heard.