The Archbishop of Canterbury has offered support to churches wishing to carry out gay marriages by pledging not to punish them for doing so.
On Tuesday, he risked the wrath of conservative bishops by telling a decennial gathering of the Anglican Communion: "I neither have, nor do I seek, the authority to discipline or exclude a church of the Anglican Communion. I will not do so."
Conservative bishops had been looking to insert an anti-gay marriage clause into the gathering's official resolution at the Lambeth Conference.
Bishops are reported to have been in tears at the gathering as The Most Rev Welby spoke at a plenary session.
Justin Welby's stance on gay marriage has proven controversial among Conservative bishops. Andrew Matthews
Those gathered are said to have ultimately opted not to vote on the issue in order to avoid exacerbating it further.
The Lambeth Call resolution has no legal or religious force but is supposed to be a unifying document.
Conservative bishops from within the Global South Fellowship have been attempting to reaffirm language used in the 1998 conference known as I.10 that states marriage is "between a man and a woman" and that same-sex relationships were unscriptural.
In an attempt to reaffirm I.10, an unofficial poll will be held by bishops this week.
Bishops are reported to have been in tears as Justin Welby made the pledge. Stefan Rousseau
The Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed that "validity”:of Resolution 1.10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference — which affirmed that marriage was "between a man and a woman", and that same-sex relationships were unscriptural — is "not in doubt".
In a letter to Anglican bishops written on Tuesday, he said: "I write therefore to affirm that the validity of the resolution passed at the Lambeth Conference 1998, 1.10, is not in doubt and that whole resolution is still in existence.
"Indeed the Call on Human Dignity made clear this is the case, as the resolution is quoted from three times in the paragraph 2.3 of the Call on Human Dignity.”
"The Call states that many Provinces — and I think we need to acknowledge it is the majority — continue to affirm that same-gender marriage is not permissible.
"The Call also states that other Provinces have blessed and welcomed same sex union/marriage, after careful theological reflection and a process of reception.
"In that way, the Call states the reality of life in the Communion today. There is no mention of sanctions, or exclusion, in 1.10 1998. There is much mention of pastoral care. We have a plurality of views.
"As Lambeth 1.10 also states: ‘All baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation are full members of the Body of Christ’ and to be welcomed, cared for and treated with respect (1.10, 1998)."