Carey warns bishops

Published December 1, 2002

Archbishop George Carey outside St. Paul’s Toronto.

Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, who retired at the end of October, warned the primate, Archbishop Michael Peers, and Canadian bishops to go slowly in deliberations on same-sex blessings and to consult broadly with the worldwide Anglican Communion.

(The house of bishops met in October, discussed last June?s decision by New Westminster to allow blessings of same-sex unions and passed the issue on to General Synod.)

The matter must be faced, Archbishop Carey said in an interview.

He was in Toronto to receive an honorary degree from Wycliffe College of the University of Toronto. Wycliffe was 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 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 human sexuality is ?going to have major ecumenical consequences,? he added. ?Any deviation from the Lambeth resolution (on sexuality) is going to destabilize the (Anglican) 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 Michael Ingham of New Westminster at the ACC meeting. He insisted that a motion he presented, which said that all dioceses should consult widely on deeply controversial issues, was ?not about sexuality but about how we handled disagreement.

He repeated earlier statements that Bishop Ingham had not consulted widely enough in the Anglican Communion before going ahead with 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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