LONDON – Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has admitted he didn't do enough to prevent sharp divisions within the Anglican church over homosexuality.
Williams, who is stepping down in December, spent much of his decade as archbishop trying to hold the diverse Anglican Communion together after the ordination of the first openly homosexual Anglican bishop, American Gene Robinson, split traditionalists, such as African churches, and liberals.
"I don't think I've got it right over the last 10 years. It might have helped a lot if I'd gone sooner to the United States when things began to get difficult about the ordination of gay bishops, and engaged more directly," he told Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper in an interview published Saturday. "I know that I've, at various points, disappointed both conservatives and liberals."
The archbishop reiterated the church's opposition to gay marriage but said it had been "wrong" in its past treatment of homosexuals.
"We've not exactly been on the forefront of pressing for civic equality for homosexual people, and we were wrong about that," he told the newspaper.
Williams, 62, also said the Anglican Church is drawing up plans to overhaul the global duties of the Archbishop of Canterbury and introduce the role of a "presidential" figure. That figure would ideally oversee the day-to-day running of the Anglican Communion so the archbishop can concentrate on leading the Church of England, he told the newspaper.
When he steps down, Williams will take up a new post as master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.
He was appointed in 2002 as archbishop of Canterbury, the senior official in the Church of England and the spiritual leader of the global Anglican Communion, which says it represents 85 million people worldwide.