As revealed in his new biography, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, believes that the Church of England should change its mind on homosexuality in the same way that it has already altered its teaching on marriage after divorce, slavery and usury (the lending of money with an interest charge), reports The Times.
The book, Rowan Williams: An Introduction, states: "His private view remains that an adjustment of teaching on sexuality would not be different from the kind of flexibility now being shown to divorcees who wish to remarry, or the softening in the 16th century of the Church's once total opposition to borrowing with interest, or the 19th and 20th-century shifts on view on subjects like slavery and eternal hellfire."
Dr Williams sparked controversy last December when he told a BBC2 documentary that he could see a case for "acknowledging faithful same-sex relationships" as the Bible condemned casual sex, not faithful relationships.
At the time, Dr Williams said: "If the Bible is very clear - as I think it is - that a heterosexual indulging in homosexual activity for the sake of variety and gratification is not following the will of God - does that automatically say that that is the only sort of homosexual activity there could ever be? My own personal conclusion is that I can see a case for acknowledging faithful same-sex relationships."
Many Christians who are opposed to homosexual relationships cite passages from the Bible - particularly in Leviticus and the writings of St Paul - which prohibit homosexual practices. Other passages in the Bible such as those sanctioning slavery, or condemning borrowing with interest have however been routinely ignored by theologians and believers. The Church of England only lifted the ban on church weddings for (heterosexual) divorcees in recent years after the ban was put in place an Act of Convocation in 1957.
While Dr Williams supports the acceptance of homosexuals by the Church, he also insisted he intends to abide by the traditional teachings of the church. After his appointment was announced last summer, he wrote to fellow primates in the Church promising to abide by the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution upholding traditional Biblical norms on homosexuality.
On Monday, Dr Williams and 37 other archbishops who met in Brazil denounced gay marriages and distanced themselves from maverick bishops who are poised to introduce same-sex blessings.