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Anglican talks on sexuality sometimes "painful"

by Antony Bushfield

William Nye said the so called "shared conversations" on the treatment of gay people had been taking places in dioceses across England.

Speaking at a press briefing ahead of the Church's next Synod meeting from February 15 he described the issue as something "people feel very, very strongly about".

"Some of them have involved painful processes and some of them have involved very good conversations," he said. "Sometimes the painful conversation can lead to good outcomes, sometimes the painful conversation goes on being painful."

The talks had "generally been good conversations" according to Mr Nye.

"None of them have broken up," he said, "None of them have led to people to say 'oh I can't cope with this', they've all proceeded through with everyone participating".

An update on the state of the discussions so far will be given at the General Synod by Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Director of Reconciliation.

The Synod will not debate the shared conversations in February but in July will have a larger 'shared conversation'.

All 480 members will be broken into groups to discuss issues on human sexuality.

After that meeting the Church will have to decide how it moves forward on the issue.

The process of shared conversations was agreed in November 2013.

The House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality recommended that: "The subject of sexuality, with its history of deeply entrenched views, would be best addressed by facilitated conversations or a similar process to which the Church of England needs to commit itself at national and diocesan level."

The meetings have been discussing the question: "Given the significant changes in our culture in relation to human sexuality, how should the Church respond?"

Some members of Synod are expected to call for full acceptance of gay marriage whilst others will urge the Church to remain true to what they believe are Biblical values.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury will give an extended address to members at the meeting. He's expected to feedback on the recent Primates' meeting in which senior leaders in the Church from around the world discussed how the worldwide church moves forward on the issue of sexuality.

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