The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Rowan Williams, says he has “no problem” with legal parity for same-sex couples, but claims the state rushed into “redefining” marriage.

The revelations come in the latest edition of his biography, Rowan’s Rule, by Rupert Shortt, which is published next month.

Lord Williams admits many liberal Anglicans were dismayed at his decision to persuade Dr Jeffrey John, Britain’s most senior openly-gay cleric, to withdraw from his nomination as Bishop of Reading in 2003, following pressure from conservative Anglicans.

“Let me just say that I think the present situation doesn’t look very sustainable”, Lord Williams is quoted as saying, reports Church Times.

On same-sex marriage, he added: “I have no problem with legal parity for same-sex couples. But I’m not sure it’s an appropriate use of the state’s power to change a social institution.

“It felt as though we were being bundled into redefining a word without sufficient time to reflect.”

The Church of England reaffirmed its opposition to equal marriage last month in response to coverage of PinkNews’ exclusive interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Archbishop Welby told PinkNews: “As you know I have said, and got a fair amount of flak for it within parts of the Church, we have to accept, and quite rightly, that the same-sex marriage act is law, and that it’s right and proper, it’s the law of the land, and that’s great.”

A spokesperson for Lambeth Palace then said the Archbishop was still opposed to same-sex marriage in principle, and insisted he had been speaking about Parliament’s right to change the law when he used the word “great”.

In August last year, Lord Williams admitted that he regularly questioned whether he had let gay and lesbian people down during his time in post.

As Archbishop in October 2012 Lord Williams said the Church of England’s attitude to gay relationships had often been harmful to people on the receiving end of its message.

In the previous month Lord Williams said that while the Church was “wrong” not to have advocated gay equality, Prime Minister David Cameron was wrong to have embarrassed the Church over the issue of equal marriage.

The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, admitted that the Church’s opposition to equal marriage was “utterly overwhelmed” by vocal supporters in July 2013.