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Primates meeting: Key questions

Fri 15 Jan 2016
By Antony Bushfield

Here are some of the key questions around the outcome of the primates meeting in Canterbury.

What caused the disagreement?

The Episcopal Church - the US branch of the Anglican Church - has shown support for same-sex marriage. It has been at odds with the parent communion since 2003, when Canon Gene Robinson, a gay man, was consecrated as a bishop.

In July last year, Episcopalians voted to authorise their clergy to perform same-sex weddings under church rules, but the right to decline performing ceremonies was also included.

Who was angry?

Africa has the largest number of Anglican communities worldwide, which remain aligned with the traditional definition of marriage. Some leaders there have spoken out against admitting homosexuals into the church or expressed disapproval of homosexuality in general.

In extreme cases some Christians campaigned for the death penalty for gay people.

What were the aims of the summit?

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby called this meeting to stop a schism in the Anglican Communion. He was concerned it was about to break up over same sex marriage.

How smooth did the meeting go?

Not very. The Archbishop of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali, walked out on Tuesday and there are reports the meeting was close to collapse on several occasions.

How do the primates feel about the outcome?

Neither side is happy. It is a victory of sorts for the conservatives, but not what they wanted. Others are furious at the decision and have called it homophobic.

Senior Labour MP and former Anglican minister Chris Bryant said he had given up on the Anglican church after the "love-empty" decision.

So, what now?

Archbishop Justin will now lead a task group which will help restore relationships, rebuild trust, heal a "legacy of hurt", and recognise the extent of their commonality and explore "deep differences".

The Episcopal Church has been banned from taking part in ecumenical and interfaith bodies, internal committees or votes on doctrine or polity for a period of three years.

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