Dr Rowan Williams acknowledged that many in the Church felt “profoundly frustrated” with the difficulties it has faced in reconciling the demands of traditionalists and pro-women campaigners over the issue.
He added that whatever the outcome of its negotiations over women bishops, the Church of England must not become “depressed” over its problems.
“The last thing our society or our world needs is a depressed Church,” Dr Williams said in a sermon in York Minster.
“That is something I trust we shall bear in mind and heart in the days ahead.”
Dr Williams’ remarks were made as the General Synod meeting at York University faces a key vote tomorrow on whether to give final approval to legislation introducing women bishops.
But the historic vote – the biggest decision in 20 years by the Church of England – could be put on hold following calls for an adjournment by pro-women campaigners over objections to a last-minute amendment.