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Let's talk about sex, says Church in guide

By Alf McCreary

Published 19/01/2016

Archbishop Richard Clarke
Archbishop Richard Clarke

The Church of Ireland has launched a new guide on human sexuality that tackles controversial issues such as same-sex relationships within the context of Christianity.

All-Ireland Primate Archbishop Richard Clarke commended the new publication - A Guide To The Conversation On Human Sexuality - at its launch yesterday in Dublin.

"It contains an absolute wealth of material on a huge variety of issues," he said.

"We are encouraged to use the Scriptures reverently and humbly, and helped in finding ways in which we may do this. We are also given practical guidance on how to approach dialogue with those who hold different viewpoints from ours."

Dean John Mann, chairman of the Church's select committee on human sexuality, said: "The committee has not sought to present the guide as a solution to difficult issues arising from sexuality in the life of the Church.

"There are conflicting views voiced in the guide, but there is also plenty of material to make the thinking person reflect, challenge preconceived notions, and give them a voice for their concerns, or the confidence to search out further guidance."

Study modules will also be available to encourage discussion and personal reflection.

The guide was launched yesterday in Dublin and is scheduled to also be launched in St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast, this afternoon.

The Church's A Guide To The Conversation On Human Sexuality comes at a time when the issue of homosexuality in the Church is threatening to cause a schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The current crisis has its roots in the action of the US Episcopal Church, which several years ago unilaterally approved the appointment of a gay bishop.

Despite several attempts at mediation, including a Report from the Windsor Commission chaired by then Archbishop of Armagh Dr Robin Eames, the issue remains unresolved currently.

Only last week the worldwide primates meeting in Canterbury voted to suspend the American Episcopalians from the Anglican Communion because of their support for same-sex marriage and other same-sex issues.

Religion observers see this as an attempt by the Anglican Communion to find breathing space on a very divisive issue, and the issue of the Church of Ireland's guide on sexuality can be seen in the same light, even though it was prepared long before last week's Canterbury meeting.

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