Archbishop of Canterbury says he's 'very sad' to discipline Scottish Episcopal Church over gay marriage vote

(Reuters/Toby Melville)Christian gay rights campaigners protest in the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, southern Britain, January 15, 2016.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Most Rev. Justin Welby said that he felt "very sad" to enforce consequences against the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) over its decision to allow same-sex marriage.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Welby announced that SEC leaders will no longer be allowed to represent the Anglican Communion and will no longer be able to take part in any votes the Communion holds regarding doctrine on new rules.

The archbishop said that the consequences were agreed unanimously, adding that he felt "very sad" about the decision.

"People were disappointed, they were angry but it was a very different mood to previous primates' meetings," Welby stated, as reported by BBC.

"It was more like a family having to face the fact that something's happened that is causing grief, than a club that doesn't like one of its members," he added.

The decision to enforce the consequences were made during a meeting of 34 primates from around the Communion in Canterbury on Tuesday.

In June, the SEC voted to remove the doctrinal clause stating that marriage is between a man and a woman, replacing it with a clause that asserts that members of the clergy who do not wish to conduct same-sex weddings will not be compelled to do so "against their conscience."

The Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion has previously stated that the vote had put the SEC "at odds" with the majority stance that marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman.

Mark Strange, the Primus of SEC, said that the vote to allow clerics to conduct same-sex weddings had caused "some hurt and anger" among fellow Anglicans around the world. He acknowledged that the consequences would restrict the SEC's involvement in the worldwide Anglican Communion, but said that it would continue to perform its role in the church.

"We will continue to play our part in the Anglican Communion we helped to establish, and I will do all I can to rebuild relationships, but that will be done from the position our Church has now reached in accordance with its synodical processes and in the belief that love means love," he said.

Similar disciplinary actions were imposed by the Anglican Communion against the U.S. Episcopal Church at the last summit in January 2016, after it passed gay marriage in 2015.

A spokesman for the conservative grouping GAFCON, which largely includes African primates, has insisted that the SEC, the U.S. Episcopal Church, as well as the Anglican Church in Canada, which blesses gay relationships, must "repent."

"Only repentance can lead to a seat at the table," the spokesman said, hinting that some traditionalists may walk out of the meeting in light of the decision.

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