Williams says Church faces disintegration


By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
(Filed: 01/09/2003)

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, admits today that the Anglican Church faces a "messy" future with the danger of disintegration into rival factions.

In his bleakest assessment yet, Dr Williams concedes that cracks are widening over a range of issues, from women priests to homosexuality, and predicts that "new alignments" are likely.

His frank comments come six weeks before an emergency summit of Anglican primates he convened in an attempt to avert a profound schism.

The crisis was provoked by the decision of the Episcopal Church, America's equivalent of the Church of England, to appoint Canon Gene Robinson as Anglicanism's first actively homosexual bishop.

Conservative evangelicals in Asia and Africa, who warned that such a move would "shatter" the Communion, plan to force Dr Williams to expel the US Church from the Anglican fold.

In an article for New Directions, a magazine for traditionalist clergy, he hints that he is prepared to see the creation of a Church-within-a-Church to allow liberals and traditionalists to co-exist.

Previously this has been ruled out as too radical.

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