The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, who has long struggled to prevent a schism over women and gay bishops and same-sex unions, announced on Friday he will step down at the end of the year.
The 80-million-strong worldwide Communion has been threatened with division for several years, with reformists and conservatives failing to bend to his authority or attempts at consensus.
Williams, 61, the head of the Church of England, the Anglican mother church, will return to academia, taking up a role as Master of Magdalene College, a senior role at Cambridge University. He previously taught theology at Cambridge and Oxford universities.
The normal retirement age for Church of England bishops is 70.Read More