Most Rev Justin Welby has asked for a meeting of global archbishops to consider the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury as head of the Anglican Communion.
It follows a decision by churches in the global south not to recognise the Archbishop of Canterbury as their head because of the Church of England's stance on same-sex blessings. The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GFSA) said Justin Welby had lost authority and that it no longer considers the Church of England as the ‘mother church’.
In a statement responding to the GFSA's decision, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Rt Rev Anthony Poggo said he's ‘saddened’ by the stance:
“I have read today’s statement by primates of the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans with sadness, but am also grateful for its frankness and candour. The statement raises important questions for our collective consideration.
“The Primates who signed the statement have been consistently clear in upholding the traditional Christian doctrine that the proper place for sexual intimacy is within marriage, and that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman. These doctrines are held by the vast majority of Anglicans around the world.
“The Archbishop of Canterbury, as Chair of the Primates’ Meeting, has asked me to arrange a Primates’ Meeting in the near future and has indicated that he is willing for sessions of this meeting that are discussing the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Communion to be chaired by other primates selected by them to enable open discussion about the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Communion."
It's the latest development in long-running tension between conservative Anglicans and those who want to see a more liberal stance on sexuality.
Last week the Archbishop of Canterbury joined representatives from 39 of the 42 member churches of the Anglican Communion for a meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Ghana.
At that meeting, the ACC affirmed “the importance of seeking to walk together to the highest degree possible, and learning from our ecumenical conversations how to accommodate differentiation patiently and respectfully”.