Carey cautions primate on same-sex issue

Published October 23, 2002

Archbishop George Carey

Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, who retires this month, has warned Canadian primate Archbishop Michael Peers and the house of bishops to go slowly in deliberations on same-sex blessings and to consult with the Anglican Communion. The house of bishops meets on Oct. 25 in Mississauga and will discuss last June’s decision by the diocesan synod of New Westminster to allow blessings of same-sex unions.

“It has to be faced,” Archbishop Carey said in an interview while in Toronto to receive an honorary degree from Wycliffe College of the University of Toronto, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary.

“It has to be faced and in a generous context of understanding, that there is a very strong orthodox position that prevails in the world today,” he said. He repeated his earlier predictions that dioceses going it alone on controversial issues risk causing schism.

“I love the church, my church. I want people to hold on and stick in there. So my plea to the (house of) bishops would be to go over this very carefully. If at all possible, avoid decisions made by any one diocese.

“The local option,” he added, “is not the Anglican way of doing things. That’s what I was saying at the Anglican Consultative Council (in Hong Kong) three weeks ago.”

At that meeting Archbishop Carey publicly censured New Westminster as well as a U.S. and an Australian diocese for making controversial decisions alone.

Any deviation from the orthodoxy of the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Greek Orthodox churches on issues of sexuality is “going to have major ecumenical consequences,” he added.

“Any deviation from the Lambeth resolution (on sexuality) is going to destabilize the communion.”

Archbishop Carey acknowledged that “homosexuals have had a very bad deal in the church. I’m aware of their pain and I am aware of pain within myself. I am a generous person and I wish I were able to say yes, I could bless (same-sex unions) but I can’t bless what God doesn’t.”

He defended his criticism of Bishop Ingham and New Westminster at the ACC meeting. He insisted that a motion he presented, which said that all dioceses should consult widely on controversial issues, was “not about sexuality but about how we handled disagreement.

“It was interesting that all three or four people (we named) spoke up and said ‘hey why are you picking us out?’ I was quite happy that we probably got it about right when everyone was twitchy.”

He said that Bishop Ingham had not consulted widely enough in the Anglican Communion before consenting to same-sex blessings. “If he had consulted widely, he would have consulted with me as one of the fundamental instruments of unity, with the primates’ meeting, with the inter-doctrinal commission.”

The archbishop also had a warning for the primate. “I understand there are 13 bishops (in Canada) who are deeply unhappy. If I were the primate I’d be very worried in case a great fissure opened in the church of Canada, which would be sad.”


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