LONDON — Bishop Justin Welby, the new archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the world’s estimated 77 million Anglicans, pledged Friday to seek reconciliation in some of the most contentious issues of gender and sexuality that have split the Anglican Communion.
Soon after Prime Minister David Cameron announced his appointment, Welby, a former oil company executive, made it clear that he endorsed earlier church statements criticizing government plans to legalize same-sex marriage.
‘‘But I also need to listen very attentively to the LGBT communities and examine my own thinking carefully and prayerfully,’’ he added, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.
‘‘I am always averse to the language of exclusion,’’ he said, apparently seeking a middle ground in the debates, which have split Anglicans from Africa to America. ‘‘Above all, in the church we need to create safe spaces for these issues to be discussed in honesty and in love.’’
He said at a news conference, ‘‘We must have no truck with any form of homophobia in any part of the church.’’
Drawing on a career that has taken him from the executive suites of French and British oil companies to hardscrabble parish churches in the British Midlands and to scenes of sectarian strife in Africa and the Middle East, Welby said he would bring a ‘‘passion for reconciliation’’ to his new position.