Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans, said Friday he will resign at the end of the year after struggling to maintain unity over women and gay bishops.
After a decade at the head of the Church of England, Williams announced that he would take up a position as master of Magdalene College at Britain's prestigious Cambridge University in January 2013.
"It has been an immense privilege to serve as Archbishop of Canterbury over the past decade, and moving on has not been an easy decision," he said in a statement released by his office, Lambeth Palace.
"During the time remaining there is much to do, and I ask (for) your prayers and support in this period and beyond."
Lambeth Palace said Williams's intention to resign had been formally conveyed to Queen Elizabeth II, who is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and formally appoints the head of the church.
Williams was appointed the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002.
But his tenure was marked by his difficulties in maintaining unity amid disagreements over the consecration of female bishops in Britain, and of openly gay bishops in the United States.