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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

College of Bishops begins the conversations on human sexuality


The College of Bishops is in meetings right now in Leicestershire. We are beginning the process of shared conversations on human sexuality, one of the outcomes of the Pilling Report which was pubished about 18 months ago. Representatives in each diocese of the Church of England will eventually be engaging in this process, and these confidential discussions among the bishops are the start.

It is clear that the aim of the conversations are not so much to reach agreement on the issues related to human sexuality, given the range of strongly-held convictions across the Church and among the bishops on these matters. However, it is hoped that we will be able to "disagree well" as David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Director of Reconciliation has put it.

Those of us in the Diocese in Europe have a range of views on these issues, of course. It is interesting however that we have lived with a reality in many of our countries that England is just coming to terms with. Civil partnership-type arrangements and in some cases same-sex marriage has been legal in many European countries for quite some time, and not only in what is commonly thought to be the "liberal" Nordic countries. For instance, traditional Catholic countries like Portugal, Spain and Belgium permit same-sex marriages. There are also some European Churches with which the Church of England is in communion, which permit their clergy to bless same-sex unions. On the other hand some countries in the Diocese have no provision for same-sex unions and a few still have rather weak anti-discrimination legislation relating to the LGBT community. And, of course, many of our ecumenical partners firmly maintain the teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman.

So, in addition to our own personal positions, the members of the Diocese in Europe have a very wide range of perspectives to bring from the countries where we are present and from our wider ecumenical relations.



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