Church must disagree 'gracefully', says Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said church members must learn to manage their disagreements "gracefully".

Speaking in an Easter Sunday interview for Premier Christian Radio, the Most Reverend Justin Welby said this was necessary if the Church was to speak into a divided society. 

He contended that reconciliation did not mean "unanimity" but could instead be understood as "the transformation of destructive conflict".

"It doesn't mean we all agree, it is that we find ways of disagreeing, perhaps very passionately but loving each other deeply at the same time, gracefully and deeply committed to each other," he said.

"That is the challenge for the Church and that is the challenge if the Church is actually going to speak to our society which is increasingly divided in many different ways, here and overseas, over huge issues". 

His comments come at a time of deep division within the Church of England and wider Anglican Communion over women bishops and sexuality.

The Archbishop has previously been involved in reconciliation work on the African continent.  At the recent Faith in Conflict conference, Archbishop Welby said the church did not need to fear conflict. 

He admitted that conflict in the church was "time consuming and destructive", but said the church needed to "manage diversity and grow with it".

"We are many tribes, but one people.  For that to have any possibility of success the journeying must be in truth, responding to the Spirit of God in us calling to the Spirit of God in each other," he said.

"In journeying we must speak to each other.  Silence is not peace."