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Church of England General Synod gets underway in York

The General Synod in York will be the last before a new group is elected in later this year.

Top of the agenda will be the subject of how the church handles abuse cases. Members will discuss how the Church can get tougher to stop abuse happening within its parishes.

Synod members will debate potential new powers including introducing checks similar to those for staff working in schools or hospitals.

Also set to be discussed is the environment and the idea of encouraging ministers to train in 'eco-theology'. It comes just weeks after Pope Francis released his encyclical on the issue.

Synod member Jonathan Ford told Premier: "We're going to be giving our backing to withdrawing all our investments in fossil fuels but the other thing is we'll have a huge debate on climate change and we're going to look at ways at how we can help others do this.

"We're fully behind what the Pope is doing and we have a unique opportunity to say more and resource people."

The issue of children leading parts of Holy Communion will also be debated. This applies mainly to schools where children might be leading assemblies or worship.

The Synod will also be the last for Secretary General William Fittall, who is stepping down.

The meeting finishes on Monday.

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