Archbishop of Canterbury: There’s a realistic chance the global Anglican church will split

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned there is a “realistic” possibility that the global Anglican church may fracture, amid tensions over homosexuality.

Archbishop Justin Welby has recently visited all members of the global Anglican Communion, to attempt to address some of the growing discontent in the church.

There have long been fears that there are divides between the more liberal churches and others within the Communion – particularly African churches who reject the teachings on gay rights.

The church’s last global meeting – the 2008 Lambeth Conference – faced boycotts from African bishops over openly gay members attending – and the head of the Episcopal Church in the US claimed earlier this year that the next Conference have reportedly been postponed over similar fears.

Speaking to the Times this week after his global trip, Archbishop Welby said: “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.

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

He added: “It would take a long time for the latent underlying link to Canterbury to cease to be an important factor in the way people looked at life and the Communion.

“I’m not saying that that’s 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, completely.”

Of potential reforms to save the Communion, he added: “If you ask, will the Communion as it was in the 1980s be here in 30 years, I would say ‘Certainly not.’

“Will there be an Anglican Communion? Very, very likely indeed. But it will look very different. And I don’t quite know what it will look like.”