The former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, has dismissed concerns expressed in an open letter that rebukes him for apparently offering himself as “an alternative leader” to his successor as head of the Anglican Communion. Archbishop Carey described the accusations as “baseless and ill-informed” and said he is “fully supportive” of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.The letter – which originated in Australia and was subsequently signed by more than 100 bishops, clergy and lay people – accuses him of disloyalty, and compares his actions to those of Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher, who, after his retirement, is known to have been a thorn in Archbishop Michael Ramsey’s side. Rev. David Wood, a parish priest from Perth, Western Australia, instigated the letter which tells Archbishop Carey: “Many of us remember the discourtesy displayed by Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher in retirement when he offered embarrassing critiques of his successor Michael Ramsey, and the policies then being implemented by the Church of England. “Your actions in retirement are similarly discourteous to Archbishop Rowan Williams, as he attempts to hold together the Anglican Communion of churches at a difficult time.
“By your visit to the USA to conduct a confirmation for 300 candidates unable to accept the authority of their own bishops, and your role in the current survey of American bishops on their attitude to the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson and the future of the Episcopal Church, you appear to be offering yourself as an alternative leader.”The letter asked Archbishop Carey to “desist from further intrusions into areas now beyond your control, and honour the convention of not undermining the work of your successor.” The letter is signed by clergy and lay people from eight Australian dioceses, most of them from Mr. Wood’s former diocese of Melbourne. It includes five bishops, two of whom are Australian diocesans, and some signatories from New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Archbishop Carey responded with a detailed statement saying, “It is a great pity that I was not contacted before the open letter was sent, because I could have informed the authors that their concerns are baseless and ill-informed.”Archbishop Carey said he was “fully supportive” of Archbishop Williams and, he suggested, “the authors of the open letter seem intent on creating division where there is none.”He said the confirmations he performed were “at the invitation of the Bishop of Virginia, a longstanding friend of mine,” who, he said, had consulted with Lambeth Palace before taking these steps.