Admitting the “great harm” which has been done to gay and lesbian groups, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said he thinks it is “almost impossible” for some Christians around the world to accept same-sex marriage.

Speaking of the Church of England’s struggle to do “what is right and just to all”, Justin Welby gave an interview with the Telegraph.

Echoing sentiments offered in his first ever live Q & A given to LBC earlier this month, Welby suggested that Christians In Africa would face “abuse” and “hatred” if church leaders suddenly accepted same-sex marriage, which could be “catastrophic”.

Hundreds of Africans would be killed if the church suddenly accepted same-sex marriage, he said.

He said: “We are struggling with the reality that there are different groups around the place that the Church can do – or has done – great harm to.

“You look at some of the gay, lesbian, LGBT groups in this country and around the world – Africa included, actually – and their experience of abuse, hatred, all kinds of things.

“We must both respond to what we’ve done in the past and listen to those voices extremely carefully.

“Listen with love and compassion and sorrow. And do what is possible to be done, which is not always a huge amount.”

Continuing, he said: “At the same time, there are other groups in many parts of the world who are the victims of oppression and poverty, who we also have to listen to, and who find that issue an almost impossible one to deal with.

“How do you hold those two things [in a balance] and do what is right and just by all?”

The Church of England is exempt from the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, so cannot perform marriage ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples.

Last year the Pilling Report recommended the church adopt a more conciliatory approach to same-sex marriages, but the House of Bishops refused to back formal blessings, and forbade gay clergy from marrying.

Despite saying he still has a hesitation over supporting same-sex marriage, the Archbishop last month signalled the end of the church’s resistance to it.