Page last updated at 12:03 GMT, Sunday, 27 July 2008 13:03 UK

Anglicans 'must resolve tensions'

Dr Rowan Williams at Lambeth Conference
The Anglican Church is split between conservatives and liberals

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of the need to resolve "internal tensions" within the Anglican Church.

In a sermon in Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams suggested rows over gay clergy and women bishops hampered the global Anglican Communion's mission.

It comes during the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, which some are boycotting over the gay clergy issue.

Archbishop Gregory Venables, from South America, said there was "frustration" that sexuality had yet to be discussed.

The archbishop, who is the senior Anglican bishop in South America and a leading conservative, told the BBC there was "some suppressed anger" from people wanting to talk about a topic which he described as the "elephant in the living room".

"I think it's because we don't know how to approach it," he said.

Important job

Meanwhile, Dr Williams's comments were part of a sermon he delivered at St Dunstan's Church in Canterbury, broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Sunday Worship programme.

He said the conference was a time to "tell each other and the world" about the Church's most important job - to tell people suffering hardship and those feeling helpless and threatened "Christ is here; you're not alone".

He stressed that the Church "has to look like a solace where people don't seem to be alone or trapped, anxious and fearful, a place where people seem to live in a larger, more joyous and hopeful atmosphere, and where they are treasured and nourished as precious images of God".

Conference agenda

"Churches that are divided and fearful and inward-looking don't easily give that message; and our Anglican family badly needs to find some ways of resolving its internal tensions that will set it free to be more confidently what God wants it to be," he said.

"Part of our agenda at this conference is to do with this."

Some 210 bishops - about a quarter of the Communion's 880 bishops - have boycotted the conference following the consecration of the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson.

Bishop Robinson, who was not invited to the conference, has held his own fringe events instead.

The Lambeth Conference, which started last Monday and is due to end on 3 August, is being held at the University of Kent.

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