Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby supported legislation that allowed women to be ordained bishops in the Church of England.

Archbishop Justin Welby: 'There is a possibility that we will not hold together'

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) In a lengthy interview in The Times of London, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby predicted that the Anglican Communion might not hold together because of strong disagreements on the ordination of women as bishops and full rights for LGBT people.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby supported legislation that allowed women to be ordained bishops in the Church of England.

In a lengthy interview in The Times of London, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby predicted that the Anglican Communion might not hold together because of strong disagreements on the ordination of women as bishops and full rights for LGBT people.

The candid interview came at the end of Welby’s visits to the 38 provinces (or country-states) that make up the Anglican Communion.

Welby said that although individual churches remain "strong, resilient and thriving," the differences among them remain profound.

“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."

Rod Thomas, chairman of Reform, an evangelical network of English and Irish Anglicans opposed to women bishops and LGBT ordination or unions, agreed with the archbishop’s assessment.

“If, as an Anglican, you believe more or less the same things but you just can’t reach agreement on something that is terribly divisive, you do go your separate ways. That will mean that the heads of various Anglican churches around the world won’t be able to meet together and say ‘Look, we’re all united’ in the same way they did in the past.”

Thomas is also a member of the General Synod, the governing body of the Church of England.

“The issue that’s splitting us is not just sexuality,” he added. “It is how attached to the Bible’s teachings do we intend to be."

Welby said that some churches, particularly in Africa, may find it difficult to remain in a single global Anglican Communion. But he insisted, "It would take a long time for the latent underlying link of Canterbury to cease to be an important factor in the way people looked at life and the Communion."

Canterbury is regarded as the "mother church" in the Anglican world.

But its authority is being challenged by a global network of conservative Anglican churches known as the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, which was formed in 2008. The fellowship is made up of leaders in African, Asian, Australian, South American and some North American churches.

The archbishop’s tour took him around the world -- from Brazil to South Sudan and from Rwanda to South Korea, where he attended the 2013 Assembly of the World Council of Churches.

In his Times interview, he spoke about whether and when to call another Lambeth Conference, the regular summoning to Canterbury of all the leaders of the Anglican Communion.

Lambeth Conferences are typically held every 10 years; the last was in 2008, when Rowan Williams was archbishop.

Welby said he held very different views from some of the Anglican leaders he met on his world tour. He described a visit to the U.S. as “a real gift in terms of communication. At least there was understanding why we disagreed with each other when we disagreed rather than simply disagreeing and not understanding each other."



  1. “The issue that’s splitting us is not just sexuality,” he added. “It is how attached to the Bible’s teachings do we intend to be.”

    It will be a fascinating sight when babylon the great falls.

  2. I think the more progressive forms of Anglicanism have the best chance of continuing into the 21st century and benefiting from modern insights into sexuality and sociology while at the same time preserving the ethos of the tradition, “catholic,” Christian Church.

  3. 2 Timothy 3 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
    1 But you should know this, that in the last days hard times will come. 2 And people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disloyal to their people, rejecters of grace, wicked, 3 Slanderers, captives to desire, cruel, haters of the good, 4 Traitors, impulsive, arrogant, loving lust more than the love of God, 5 Who have a form of God-worship and are far from his power; remove from you those who are such. 6 For some of them are these who crawl house to house and capture women buried in sins and are led to various lusts, 7 Who are always learning and are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 But just as Jannes and Jambres arose against Moses, in this way also they have withstood the truth, persons who corrupt their minds and are rejected from faith. 9 But they will not proceed to their advancement, for their madness is known to every person, just as theirs was also known.

  4. The issues that are splitting folks is their refusal to love like Jesus loved.

    One can make all the justifications and rationalizations he/she wants, but it comes down to will we love each other.

  5. Except that many of the modern “insights” are wrong. Too many are ideologically driven .

  6. Wow, the death of what was once a rather large ‘church’. Then, can we not expect those ‘churches’ that stray from the Teaching and the Laws of God to fall into ruin and strife?

    The thriving churches of Africa and Asia would be wise to cut off the degenerate whores of the West who seek to pervert the teachings of the Almighty. The West is poisonous until it ceases to be the world’s seat of iniquity.

    “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

    – Isaiah 5:20

  7. What many consider “modern” and “progressive” is the very thing putting the church at risk. It is least likely to survive.

  8. I beleive C. S. Lewis predicted this would come to pass over sixty years ago. He even wrote a piece on it, “Priestesses in the Church?”, whose warning was apparently forgotten. A pity, really. The ‘tolerance’ in the name of Christ is simple PC conformity that continues to water down the faith. And the faithful will be fed; if not at this Church, then at another.

  9. As a member of the Church, I will not accept perversion or watering down of the Word in the name of Political Correctness. “Heaven and Earth will pass away, and my words will not pass away.” I try to love the person as Christ commanded – that is, as I love myself. But He has not said I am required to condone what they do, or pretend that it is anything but ugliness, a perversion of a good thing. I am tempted to many wretched and evil things, but nothing in Christ’s teaching suggests I am EVER to simply ‘tolerate’ my own failure to resist those temptations. To do so would be to tread the road to Hell.

  10. Any split is about “us”, not God.

    It feels better when we can believe that God wills division, but who wants to divide Christ? It’s not God, it’s us.

  11. A house that is divided within itself shall fall, for you cannot have to masters, for you will love one and hate the other.

  12. Do you think so? All the evidence is against you. The churches that have made these very liberal changes are falling apart at the seams. The Episcopals have lost a thrird of their members, and another third stays beause they have been in the church all their life.

    Your statement runs counter to every bit of available evidence.

  13. Hilarious! Church leader of a church founded on the bible:

    “We don’t know if we should follow the bible or not”

    The perfect plan for ending the church!

  14. Well, to be fair the quote came from one “side” of these divisions, and the characterization of the nature of the differences was polemical/partisan at best. The “other side” would no doubt dispute that and insist that the main issue was more like how to interpret the Bible, how to develop doctrine in relation to a changing world, or some such thing.

  15. The great difference between the camps here is not how attached we are to the Bible’s teachings, but what we believe the Bible teaches. Our differences are as much a matter of hermeneutics than anything else. To suggest, as Thomas implies, that conservatives (folks who ate anti women’s ordination and an anti-LGBTQ ordination) wish to follow the Bibles teachings while progressives do not is both silly and blind. At hand is what the bible teaches and how we believe we are to be (re)formed by reading it interpreting it and putting our interpretations into practice. On that score there are massive differences indeed.

  16. The Bible condemns all forms of lust, primarily heterosexual lust. Those who scapegoat homosexual lust to distract from their own sins will be judged by the Lord, who knows all. Those who believe homosexuals cannot love are just stupid.

    Studies are beginning to clearly demonstrate the correlation between those who hate homosexuals, and homosexuals people who hate themselves.

    God hates no one. Those who pretend otherwise have some learning to do.

  17. One theme of this article is completely erroneous. That is that it gives the impression it is the orthodox Anglican churches (like those in Africa) which are causing the Anglican break-up.
    But that is not so.
    It is the Anglican churches which are tossing the Bible and Tradition out the window which are fracturing the Anglican Church. It is European churches which ordain women–and don’t care how they fracture the church in doing so. It is European churches which have become promoters of homosexual practices against the Bible and Tradition which are also fracturing the churches.

  18. It is sad to see the Church of England as I knew it as a lad and choir boy descend into the abyss of divisions and yet more schisms.

    Now, as an aging man and a simple follower of Yashua Messiah and who has studied The Holy Scriptures for over thirty years I fail to see the relevance of any organised religion. Tell me, if you can, where the salvation is in religion.

    Even the heathen Mahatma Ghandi said: “God has no religion” and he was right.

    “Come out of her my people and be not partakers of her sins and her plagues.”

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