The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says that he's listening to both sides of the gay marriage debate but refuses to discuss why he opposed such unions in the past.

Gay and lesbian couples started marrying in Britain and Wales in March after a bill legalizing such unions came into effect. The Church of England vocally opposed its passage, with Welby saying that it could prove “catastrophic” for Christians in other parts of the world.

Welby told BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs he's “trying to bridge [a] gay marriage split” in the Anglican Church.

“When I listen to people I know that I'm listening to people for whom not just the issue of sexuality but the whole way in which the Church lives and exists and reaches out to people, what it looks like to be a holy church, is something on which they feel passionately and are deeply, deeply, deeply disagreeing” Welby said.

“If you love them you listen carefully,” he said.

While the American arm of the Anglican Church, the Episcopal Church, defines marriage as a heterosexual union, two years ago it approved a blessing rite for gay couples who wish to wed.

When asked about his previous opposition, Welby responded: “I'm really not going to answer the question very well because we're now into conversations within the Church, both globally and locally, and I think if I weigh in at this stage it's inappropriate.”