Church ‘like drunken man nearing a precipice’

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that the Anglican Church is moving towards the “edge of a precipice” amid disputes between liberals and traditionalists.

Justin Welby said the church was in danger of abandoning its core beliefs while also falling into a “ravine of intolerance” in the way its deals with divisive issues such as gay marriage and female bishops.

Speaking during a visit to Mexico, he likened the behaviour of the Church to a “drunk man” staggering close to the edge of a cliff and drew parallels between the crisis afflicting the 77-million-strong Anglican community and the atmosphere in the Civil War.

“I sometimes worry that as Anglicans we are drifting back in that direction. Not consciously, of course, but in an unconscious way that is more dangerous,” he said.

“Like a drunk man walking near the edge of a cliff, we trip and totter and slip and wander, ever nearer to the edge of the precipice. It is a dangerous place, a narrow path we walk as Anglicans at present.”

He went on: “On one side is the steep fall into an absence of any core beliefs, a chasm where we lose touch with God, and thus we rely only on ourselves and our own message.

“On the other side there is a vast fall into a ravine of intolerance and cruel exclusion. It is for those who claim all truth, and exclude any who question.”