The new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, has said that the Church of England must remain “graceful” in its internal disagreements around equal marriage.

He said that the church faced the “challenge” of showing to society that, despite internal disagreements over the issue of marriage equality, the church remained ”gracefully and deeply committed to each other” in order to become a “sign to the world” of peace.

“We need to understand reconciliation within the Church as the transformation of destructive conflict, not unanimity,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean we all agree, it is that we find ways of disagreeing, perhaps very passionately but loving each other deeply at the same time, gracefully and deeply committed to each other.

“That is the challenge for the Church and that is the challenge if the Church is actually going to speak to our society which is increasingly divided in many different ways, here and overseas, over huge issues.”

The 57-year-old Archbishop of Canterbury made the remarks in an interview with Premier Christian Radio on Easter Sunday. He was due to preside over his first Easter sermon on Sunday.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord George Carey, yesterday attacked David Cameron over his support for marriage equality, saying many Christians feel “persecuted” over the issue.

Lord Carey claimed many Christians were left with “anxieties” over the Prime Minister’s push for same-sex marriage, accusing him of coming across as insincere in his pledges to support faith leaders.

“It was a bit rich to hear that the prime minister has told religious leaders that they should ‘stand up and oppose aggressive secularisation’ when it seems that his government is aiding and abetting this aggression every step of the way,” said Carey.

The Prime Minister, however, used his Easter message to commend the “incredible role” player by Christian churches in Britain and worldwide.

“As long as I am prime minister, they will have the support of this government,” he said.

Yesterday, the YouGov Easter Sunday poll  found that more than two-thirds (69%) of the population believe that the Church of England is out of touch with society and half (54%) believe that it does a bad job of providing moral leadership. Almost half disagree with its stance on same-sex marriage.