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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 November 2005, 12:50 GMT
Williams calls for Church harmony
Rowan Williams
The archbishop wants the Synod to spend more time in reflection
The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned against tensions and splits in the Church over homosexuality and the ordination of women bishops.

Dr Rowan Williams told members of the General Synod they should beware of "poisoning the wells" and ought to conduct debates without hostility.

The debate about sexuality within the Church was complicated by high levels of mutual ignorance, he said.

This must be tackled by communication, he told the meeting in central London.

He said if every Synod member made contact with someone in another Anglican province who was not likely to share their view, they might be able to move away from the "demeaning caricatures" that persisted on both sides.

Source of life

The Synod could not assume that "we already understand our opponents' views better than they do themselves".

"We as a Synod need to show that theology doesn't kill you - indeed that it can be a source of life and health."

The Anglican Church is split on the issue of homosexuality.

This was highlighted by the newly-appointed Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who spoke of the "scandalous" divisions within the church at the opening Synod session at Church House in Westminster on Tuesday.

The Queen opened the Synod on Monday, saying there was a "renewed hunger" for "that which endures and gives meaning" because of the rapid changes in the world.

The Christian Church was "uniquely" able to speak to that need, she said.

Common reflection

Dr Williams told members on the meeting's second day: "We have to remind ourselves that the Church's central focus is not on its own housekeeping, necessary as that is, but on its communication of a revealed truth and hope to the world."

There is a challenge to do with how we really speak the language of a different generation
Dr Rowan Williams

In a plea against breakaway movements over women bishops, Dr Williams urged Synod members on opposing sides to indulge in discussion.

He cited the example of Welsh clerics who had engaged in "prayer partnerships" between individuals with clashing views.

Differences in views should not be allowed to become an excuse for "exclusion" or "ghettoisation".

Instead members should spend more time in "common reflection".

Dr Williams also called for an increase in the number of younger candidates coming forward to enter the priesthood.

"There is a challenge to do with how we really speak the language of a different generation, and it's often been said that we have let slip the priority of encouraging younger people to come and share in the work of ordained ministry."

The archbishop suggested a target of a 20% boost over the next five years in candidates for the priesthood aged under-30.




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