The Anglican Communion’s gay row could be resolved by creating two levels of church. the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested today.

Dr Rowan Williams proposed provinces whereby those happy to sign up to a formal covenant would be “constituents” and those who held different views would become “associated.”

He said in a speech named The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today: A Reflection for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion, “There is no way in which the Anglican Communion can remain unchanged by what is happening at the moment.

“Neither the liberal nor the conservative can simply appeal to a historic identity that doesn’t correspond with where we now are.”

The statement comes after the General Convention of the Episcopal Church displeased conservative members after failing to ban the ordination of homosexual bishops, stemming from the outcry of the appointment of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003.

The US Episcopal Church agreed on a watered down version of a proposal which would have banned the appointment of gay clergy.

The denomination agreed to “exercise restraint” in ordaining gay bishops, as part of an effort to amend rifts within the Anglican Church after the appointment of gay bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson in 2003.

The African Anglican Church expressed dismay at the decision which ignored most of the recommendations of the Windsor Report, aimed at mending rifts between the church over the gay issue.