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Anglican Church Suffers From 'Deep Divisions', Warns Archbishop Justin Welby

17/11/2014 19:18 GMT | Updated 17/11/2014 19:59 GMT
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CANTERBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 21: The Most Reverend Justin Welby during his enthronement as the Archbishop of Canterbury at Canterbury Cathedral on March 21, 2013 in Canterbury, England. The newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is enthroned today, installing him as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Church of England, in front of bishops and religious of the Anglican communion from around the world, the Prime Minister David Cameron, The Prince of Wales and other dignitaries. (Photo by Philip Toscan - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Anglican Communion is facing battling deep internal divisions that may not be overcome, as well as external attacks on its people and faith, the Archbishop of Canterbury told followers today. The Most Rev Justin Welby said the church, while doing good work, had "deep divisions", including over sexuality, that "may be too much to manage".

He also highlighted "persecution" of Christians and Muslims by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and other attacks in Africa and Asia in his address to the General Synod. The Archbishop, who has met 36 other Anglican primates in the last 18 months, said he had come away from meetings "utterly daunted by the differences that exist", but that there was "a profound unity in many ways".

He said: "I do not want to sound triumphalistic. There are enormous problems. We have deep divisions in many areas, not only sexuality. There are areas of corruption, other areas where the power of the surrounding culture seems to overwhelm almost everyone at one point or another.

"Our divisions may be too much to manage. In many parts of the communion, including here, there is a belief that opponents are either faithless to the tradition, or by contrast that they are cruel, judgmental, inhuman. I have to say that we are in a state so delicate that without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures."

He went on to ask for people to make a "sacrifice" by working, meeting with and listening to other communion members with whom they do not agree. The archbishop, whose visits to global Christian leaders included a visit to Accra, the capital of Ghana, also spoke of the ravages of the Ebola virus in west Africa, saying it was a "catastrophe of historic proportions" that "makes the blood run cold".

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