George Carey: Candor and Reflective Optimism about Anglican Communion

”Marriage is a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman”
GAFCON represents the majority of African and Asian Anglicans


By Ladson F. Mills III
VOL correspondent
September 9, 2013

Christian teaching regarding human sexuality is clear according to the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey. It is a lifelong commitment between one man and one women and any suggestion that it can be reduced to a falling in and out of sexual encounters is wrong. Christians must stand firm in this even as they understand that people around them may hold much different attitudes.

Lord Carey of Clifton, as the retired archbishop is now known, sat down with VOL on Saturday September 7th during a break at Trinity Cathedral in Columbia, South Carolina. He was there as the key note speaker at a workshop on “Worship as Formation: Finding God in Liturgy and Sacred Music” Although clear regarding the standard for Christian relationships, he maintains a deep awareness of the challenges facing faithful Christians in a world that is increasingly dominated by the secular culture.

In response to a VOL question suggesting that the Anglican Communion’s structure may have become a hindrance for doing the right thing, he does not agree. He rejects the suggestion that senior leaders are more concerned with their territorial prerogatives than truth and regards Anglicanism as having always reflected a “generous tolerance.” He notes that The Episcopal Church is recognized for its generosity throughout the wider communion.

He cites his experience during a recent visit to Charleston as a way of describing how these complexities are encountered in daily life. During his visit, he met good people on both sides of the issues dividing the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church, including Charles vonRosenberg bishop of the continuing Episcopal Church whom he describes as a lovely man. He later worshipped in historic St. Michael’s Parish, which has chosen to remain under the leadership of Bishop Mark Lawrence. He describes the worship at St. Michael’s as wonderful and expressed great admiration for its current rector, the Rev. Al Zadig, Jr.

He is both aware of and understands the challenges for the current presiding bishop in regard to the drifting away of the Diocese of South Carolina. South Carolina has been an effective and rich contributor to the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion; therefore it is his hope that both sides will not miss opportunities to preserve their relationship. Perhaps this might someday include the reaching out to ACNA and AMiA by the Episcopal Church.

In 2008 he was openly critical of GAFCON concerned that the drawing away of the more conservative bishops from Lambeth might weaken the upcoming conference and cause further damage to the communion. He now recognizes that GAFCON represents the majority of African and Asian Anglicans and therefore its concerns must be acknowledged.

He holds Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, in high regard as a good and enormously talented man. He understands he will eventually be tested, as all Archbishops of Canterbury inevitably are, but hopes this will come later rather than sooner.

The analogy he uses when describing the Anglican Communion is one taken from a story he once heard. It suggested that trying to manage the Church of England could be compared to a country vicar inviting conflicted parishioners to tea in the hopes their differences might be resolved.

It is his hope that the Communion will not fracture because he believes so much would be lost.

Ladson F. Mills III is a priest with over thirty years pastoral experience. He is retired and lives with his wife in South Carolina. He currently serves as Scholar in Residence at the Church of our Saviour, Johns Island. He is a regular contributor to Virtueonline

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