I read in the news today that the Episcopal Church is going to vote on same-sex 'marriage'. As a Catholic who looks to the Pope to issue statements on matters of faith and morals, and trusts the Holy Spirit to guide him, what sort of weight do Episcopalians and Anglicans put on votes on matters of faith and morals; do they believe the vote is guided by the Holy Spirit? (or is this not even considered a matter of faith and morals any more, just "equality"?) The same thing I believe happened in the early 20th century with the Lambeth conference concerning birth control and happened recently with allowing women to hold higher positions in the church (although that might have been more of an equal rights sort of deal, I'd see it as a matter of faith)

Please don't discuss current events, unless very applicable. And, if it offends you, please excuse the quotes around the word 'marriage'. Because of my deeply held convictions, I will never be able to in good conscience call it marriage.

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    See the comments I've made on Stephen's answer. Should you perhaps state that Catholicism specifically believes that the Holy Spirit guides the Pope in these matters, and ask whether the Episcopal Church has a similar doctrine about whether the Holy Spirit will guide its General Convention? – Matt Gutting Jul 1 '15 at 15:25
  • As a note, the a college of cardinals votes to select the pope. – Andrew Jun 1 '16 at 20:35

Why? Because the Episcopal Church (in the United States) is governed by a legislative body and a constitution. It is a democracy.

You can blame the founding fathers and the American revolution, probably. Though not written by the same people as the U.S. Constitution (as is commonly held) the men who first wrote the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church desired to

replace hierarchical rule with egalitarian, democratic government (1)

Here is Article I, Section I of the aforementioned Constitution (emphases mine):

There shall be a General Convention of this Church, consisting of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, which Houses shall sit and deliberate separately; and in all deliberations freedom of debate shall be allowed. Either House may originate and propose legislation, and all acts of the Convention shall be adopted and be authenticated by both Houses

Though probably not as much a "matter of faith and morals" than it is simple democratic governance, the General Convention is likely as much guided by the Holy Spirit as is the Pope.

EDIT: As concerns comment toward the word "likely" and to further improve this answer in response to improving the question, here's this from the House of Deputies.

Deputies and bishops cannot be instructed to vote one way or another by their diocese. They agree to come to Convention with an open heart so that they can prayerfully listen to others and be led by the Holy Spirit. And, they cannot refuse to vote on an issue.

And this, from The Anglican Understanding of the Church: An Introduction by Paul Avi. (The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion.)

Anglicans maintain that the doctrine, worship, ministry, sacraments and government of their Churches are those of the Church of Christ and that they are owned and blessed by the Holy Spirit.

And this delightful passage from The Journal of the 38th Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Diocese of Southern Ohio (1912)

And now, with all my confidence in your right-mindedness as a body, I still feel bound to remind you at least of the spirit in which you ought to enter into such an election, of the utter conscientiousness, of the utter independence of judgment and action, and of the utter dependence upon the leading of the Holy Spirit with which you ought to vote.

And, you know, we're Christians. We trust God. We pray all the time. For guidance, strength and wisdom. Especially when making tough decisions.

God has made a promise to us:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you (Psalm 32:8)

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    "Likely"? I hope the church has a more definitive statement on divine guidance of its governance than that. – Matt Gutting Jul 1 '15 at 15:06
  • Me too. :) This is my response to the OP that he "trusts" the Holy Spirit to guide the Pope. Check out the preamble to the Constitution. – Stephen Jul 1 '15 at 15:18
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    True; my point is that we have a specific doctrine that the Holy Spirit will guide the Pope in these sorts of decisions; and perhaps the question should include that sort of statement. – Matt Gutting Jul 1 '15 at 15:23
  • @Matt Yeah, that was definitely in my mind, but not translated so well to the question. – Peter Turner Jul 1 '15 at 15:38

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