Archbishop of Canterbury warns that Anglican Church may 'not hold together' over conflicting views

Rev Justin Welby says he disagrees 'profoundly' with views held by other churches within the Anglican Communion

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, second right, and members of the clergy arrive for the General Synod meeting at the University of York on Monday 14 July, 2014
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, second right, and members of the clergy arrive for the General Synod meeting at the University of York on Monday 14 July, 2014

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that parts of the Anglican Communion could break away as a result of the conflicting views held by other churches.

In a series of frank remarks to The Times, the Most Rev Justin Welby said there could be “a sort of temporary separation” and admitted to personally disagreeing “profoundly” with views held by other churches within the union.

“I think, realistically, we’ve got to say that despite all efforts there is a possibility that we will not hold together, or not hold together for a while,” he said.

“I could see circumstances in which there could be people moving apart and then coming back together, depending on what else happens.”

Archbishop Welby’s comments come shortly after his visit to all 38 provinces within the union that represents 80 million Anglicans globally.

The Anglican Communion is the international association of churches consisting of the Church of England and national and regional churches elsewhere in ‘full communion’ with it. This phrase is broadly taken to mean there is mutual consent on – for example – essential doctrines.

However, the Communion is incredibly broad - encompassing a wide range of beliefs from evangelicalism to Catholicism to liberal.

The thread uniting the seemingly disparate factions is their adherence to the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic terms characteristics indicating inclusion within the Christian faith. This can also be known as the Four Marks of the Church.

In recent years the union has struggled with highly contentious issues such as homosexuality and the ordination of female bishops.

The archbishop also noted that some Anglican churches, particularly those in Africa, were keen to leave. “I’m not saying that [a split] is inevitable or even more probable than not. I think it’s very much up in the air at the moment. And my suspicion is that the vast majority of people will stay within the communion.”

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