Anglican Church has fallen apart since I was in charge, says Carey

Lord Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, has delivered a damning critique of the Anglican communion, claiming that it has fallen apart since he was succeeded by Rowan Williams.

His remarks are set to send the relationship to a new low and give encouragement to critics of the current archbishop who are ever more vocal in expressing their dismay at his leadership.

In a speech that will be seen as a direct attack on Dr Williams’s ability to maintain unity in the Church, Lord Carey accused liberals of devastating the communion “that we once loved”. Only weeks ago, an open letter was circulated calling on Lord Carey to refrain from interfering in sensitive issues.

“When I left office at the end of 2002 I felt the Anglican communion was in good heart,” he said. “It is difficult to say in what way we are now a communion. Bitterness, hostility, misunderstanding and strife now separate provinces from one another and divide individual provinces.”

He also challenged the Church of England’s statement on civil partnerships by describing it as “a serious and extraordinary departure from the Church’s practice”.

As the American province of the communion prepares to discuss the repercussions of its decision to promote Canon Gene Robinson as Anglicanism’s first openly homosexual bishop, Lord Carey revealed how he had been distressed by the deep divisions that the consecration had caused.

While Dr Williams has argued that homosexual clergy should be accepted into the Church, Lord Carey said that the Bible was “unequivocal in its condemnation of practising homosexuality. It cannot be dismissed as having no consequence for us today”.

Lord Carey has had a strained relationship with Dr Williams since he blocked his promotion to be bishop of Southwark because of concerns over the Welsh cleric’s liberal stance on homosexuality. In a speech at Virginia Theological Seminary seen by The Sunday Telegraph, he expressed his anxiety at Dr Williams’s impotence in the face of the American Church’s refusal to heed his pleas to refrain from confirming Canon Robinson as the bishop of New Hampshire.

“When I was archbishop I gave expression on a number of occasions to my worries about the fragility of our theology of authority,” he said. Dr Williams conceded this year that he did not see himself as a leader: “It is wrong for an archbishop to be the leader of a party; in a polarised and deeply divided Church it’s particularly important not to be someone pursuing an agenda that isn’t the agenda of the whole.”

Lord Carey’s visit to Virginia to urge the American Church to repent of its decision to consecrate Canon Robinson will irritate his opponents. He told the audience of his fear that the General Convention, which meets next week, would “fudge” its response to the homosexuality crisis.

“On that basis the communion will split and our mission, our integrity and our ministry to the poor of Africa will suffer,” he said.

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Telegraph, UK
June 11, 2006
Jonathan Wynne-Jones

Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday June 11, 2006.
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