The Archbishop of Canterbury says Anglicans must “seek with passion the visible unity of the Church”.

In his second keynote address to 650 bishops at the Lambeth Conference, Archbishop Justin Welby admitted this is “very difficult”. 

He said that different views were “God’s gift” and could be “prophetic”, and that Christians must not hate those they disagree with. 

The Archbishop also suggested that expulsion from the Communion was not the right response to differences.

“We’re not at liberty to choose our brothers and sisters, our siblings. Of course, we have groups with different views,” he said.

“Of course, they are God’s gift to us because the different view will often challenge us and changes our minds, it can be prophetic.

“But we do not, as I said earlier, go down the road of expelling other Christians.” 

He said it was “by God’s grace” that the bishops had “disagreed without hatred” during the conference and “not as many in the press want us to”. 

READ: Global Church is experiencing an ‘ecumenical emergency’

He continued, “A friend of one of our children, of one of our sons, a reporter who is a Christian said, ‘I rejoice and I am sad. I rejoice, because this week I have seen something new – people who disagree loving each other – but my news editor is very sad because there is nothing to say about that.'”

On Tuesday, in opening comments at the plenary on human dignity, the Archbishop said he was not interested in excluding particular churches from the Anglican Communion. 

“I am very conscious that the Archbishop of Canterbury is to be a focus of unity and is an Instrument of Communion. That is a priority,” he said.

“I neither have, nor do I seek, the authority to discipline or exclude a church of the Anglican Communion. I will not do so. I may comment in public on occasions, but that is all.”

The Call on Human Dignity has been been a source of division during the conference because of disagreements over references to Lambeth 1.10, a 1998 resolution upholding marriage between a man and a woman and renouncing homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture. 

Orthodox Anglican bishops have said that the state of the Communion warrants the adoption of “suitable forms of visible differentiation” but that they would “seek not to be schismatic”.

“Simply stated, we find that if there is no authentic repentance by the revisionist provinces, then we will sadly accept a state of ‘impaired communion’ with them,” the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches said on Friday.

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