The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has bemoaned those who misread a passage in the bible as condemning homosexuality.

Williams, who is seen as a liberal in the Church, made the statement at a lecture on Monday in Toronto on the subject of “reading the Bible in the tradition of interpretation.”

In the talk, Williams commented on the passage by Saint Paul (Romans 1:27) which refers to homosexuality as an ‘unnatural’ behaviour along with others such as scandal, disobedience to parents and lack of pity.”

“Many current ways of reading miss the actual direction of the passage,” said Williams, adding that “Paul is making a primary point not about homosexuality but about the delusions of the supposedly law-abiding.”

Williams also called for a “proper theological discussion” of the issue of homosexuality, and described the “fragmentary reading” of the Bible as “highly risky.”

The decisive issue of gays in the church is threatening to split the Anglican Church. The crisis began when Robinson was made Bishop of New Hampshire in the US in 2003. Some North American branches have also been allowing an increasingly visible leadership role for women. African branches are among those factions vehemently opposing gay clergy and driving the seemingly inevitable schism.

In January, Williams said in a television documentary that he feared that it may be too late to stop the Anglican Church from splitting over gay and gender issues.

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