The Archbishop of Canterbury says there's little he can do if leaders of Anglican churches in Africa choose to withdraw from discussions on homosexuality — a move that has prompted fears of a schism in the Anglican Communion.

Justin Welby told the BBC that he hopes he can achieve reconciliation among dissenting factions during a meeting this week of senior Anglican bishops. But he says there's nothing that he can do "if people decide to leave the room."

But Welby cautioned Monday that "reconciliation doesn't always mean agreement ... It means finding ways of disagreeing well."

The issue of homosexuality has divided the communion representing 85 million people in 165 countries since 2003, when the U.S. Episcopal Church consecrated Canon Gene Robinson, who is gay, to be New Hampshire bishop.