Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in a statement posted Monday on his Web site, encouraged his flock against seeing the difference in views in "apocalyptic terms of schism and excommunication," The Times of London reported.
The split Williams described as "two styles of being Anglican" has been building since the 1970s when the Episcopal Church in the United States ordained the first female priests. It gained momentum when the U.S. church ordained open homosexuals and became even more rancorous in 2003 when Gene Robinson, a gay priest in a committed relationship, was consecrated as bishop of New Hampshire.
At its recent convention, the Episcopal Church passed resolutions moving towards the end of moratoriums on the consecration of gay bishops and the church blessing of same-sex unions. Williams argued against both resolutions.
Much of the outrage over Robinson's consecration came from African dioceses. The region is also the fastest-growing part of the Anglican Communion.