Lord Carey says ordaining a gay bishop verges on heresy

By staff writers
April 27, 2006

Lord Carey says ordaining a gay bishop verges on heresy

-27/04/06

Lord Carey, Dr Rowan Williamsí predecessor as Archbishop of Canterbury, has likened the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson in New Hampshire to heresy ñ because Bishop Robinson is gay, and lives in a long-term relationship.

The remarks came this week on the Australian network ABC, as Dr Carey sought to defend himself against criticism for interfering in the gay row from 135 senior Anglicans ñ mainly from Australia, but also from the United States and England.

Asked by interviewer Stephen Crittenden of ABCís ëThe Religion Reportí whether the decision of the Episcopal Church USA to confirm New Hampshireís election of Bishop Robinson in 2003 was ìverging on being a heretical actî, Dr Carey replied, ìOh, I think so, yes.î

This is the first time the former Archbishop has raised the spectre of heresy publicly, though he is believed to have expressed the view in private correspondence.

In an article for Ekklesia published today (ëAnglicans need more jaw and less warí), the Rev Dr David Wood from Perth, Western Australia, says that while ì[s]ome may argue that Bishop Robinsonís appointment is irregular, breaking with two thousand years of Christian traditionÖothers may claim that the Episcopal Church is making history by acting prophetically.î

Arguing against conflating matters of church order with fundamental doctrine, he continues: ìNo serious theologian calls this action heresy. Invoking such a word suggests that this is a highly emotive issue for George Carey, sufficiently so that he feels somehow impelled to act.î

Dr Wood is the coordinator of an Open Letter to Dr Carey published on Easter Day. Its signatories, including a number of Australian bishops, regret the former Archbishopís interference in current Anglican arguments ñ notably his association with a hard-line lobby group in the Episcopal Church USA, ëEpiscopalians Concernedí, and his decision to confirm anti-gay dissidents who refused the Bishop of Virginiaís ministry.

These actions, the letter suggests, are divisive and amount to disloyalty to Dr Williams, who is trying to bridge the increasingly bitter argument within the 77 million worldwide Anglican Communion.

Lord Carey has been highly dismissive of his critics so far, calling them ill-informed, mischievous and un-Christian. In his ABC interview he said he hoped the General Convention of the Episcopal Church USA (which meets in June 2006) would refrain from further consecrations of gay people, to avoid ìa major schism in the communion.î

Dr Carey also criticised Bishop Robinson personally, saying ìhere is a man who is now an alcoholic, as wellî. The New Hampshire bishop, who endured vitriolic verbal attacks in the run-up to his consecration, voluntarily checked into a rehabilitation unit in February 2006, in order to address ìan increasing dependence on alcoholî.

His diocese issued a statement at the time saying that they had not noticed the effect of alcohol on Robinsonís ministry, which has been widely commended, adding that they were ìfully supporting our bishop and his family Ö and we commend him for his courageous example to us all.î

Writing for Ekklesia, Dr Wood, who is parish priest of Grace Church Joondalup and Anglican chaplain to Edith Cowan University in Perth, stresses that the issues raised in the Open Letter concern the ex-Archbishopís judgement rather than his integrity.

The signatories, says Dr Wood, ìare concerned that a disagreement among fellow Christians is being deepened in a way which does serious disservice to the message of love which lies at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus.î

In his own interview with ABC, Dr Wood commends the former Archbishop, who he says ìhas all sorts of valuable connections and can have a very positive influence, not least in inter-faith dialogue.î

He adds: ìWe are simply concerned that he should keep out of highly contentious mattersÖ facing the Anglican community of churches right at the moment.î

In his own statement on the issue, Dr Carey accuses the 135 signatories of the Open letter of ìcausing division where there is noneî and affirms his support for Dr Rowan Williams ñ whose appointment to a diocesan bishopric post he is alleged to have blocked during his own tenure at Canterbury.

Lord Carey adds: ìI have no role in the Anglican Communion except that of a priest and bishop, and only have a continuing Episcopal ministry through the invitation of diocesan bishops.î

Speaking to Ekklesia earlier this week, Dr Wood responded: ìBishop Carey seems to think that the serious concerns raised in the Open Letter can be easily dismissedÖ But the fact that so many ordinary Anglicans from all over the world have signed [the Open Letter] indicates widespread frustration with Bishop Carey, and shows that his support for Archbishop Rowan is, sadly, anything but obvious to us.î

David Wood is author of Poet, Priest and Prophet, a biography of the late Bishop John V Taylor, one of the most widely acclaimed mission theologians of the last century. More recently he also contributed to Consuming Passion, a study of atonement and violence edited by Ekklesiaís directors Simon Barrow and Jonathan Bartley.

[Also on Ekklesia: Feature - Anglicans need more jaw and less war, by David Wood; Lord Carey says blasphemy laws should go; Muslim anger at Carey's comments about Islam; Carey condemns disinvestment plan; Former C of E head says tide is turning against the church; Gay bishop likened to black civil rights campaigners; Anglican bishops apologise for misinformation about Gene Robinson; Gay bishop rejects attack by Tatchell; Bishop never said Jesus was gay; Church would be more 'godly' if it embraced gays says bishop; Tutu calls on Anglicans to accept gay bishop; Diocese of New Hampshire responds to Windsor Report; Windsor Report does not call for apology; Bishop Robinson denies report about Lambeth Conference attendance]

Lord Carey says ordaining a gay bishop verges on heresy

-27/04/06

Lord Carey, Dr Rowan Williamsí predecessor as Archbishop of Canterbury, has likened the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson in New Hampshire to heresy ñ because Bishop Robinson is gay, and lives in a long-term relationship.

The remarks came this week on the Australian network ABC, as Dr Carey sought to defend himself against criticism for interfering in the gay row from 135 senior Anglicans ñ mainly from Australia, but also from the United States and England.

Asked by interviewer Stephen Crittenden of ABCís ëThe Religion Reportí whether the decision of the Episcopal Church USA to confirm New Hampshireís election of Bishop Robinson in 2003 was ìverging on being a heretical actî, Dr Carey replied, ìOh, I think so, yes.î

This is the first time the former Archbishop has raised the spectre of heresy publicly, though he is believed to have expressed the view in private correspondence.

In an article for Ekklesia published today (ëAnglicans need more jaw and less warí), the Rev Dr David Wood from Perth, Western Australia, says that while ì[s]ome may argue that Bishop Robinsonís appointment is irregular, breaking with two thousand years of Christian traditionÖothers may claim that the Episcopal Church is making history by acting prophetically.î

Arguing against conflating matters of church order with fundamental doctrine, he continues: ìNo serious theologian calls this action heresy. Invoking such a word suggests that this is a highly emotive issue for George Carey, sufficiently so that he feels somehow impelled to act.î

Dr Wood is the coordinator of an Open Letter to Dr Carey published on Easter Day. Its signatories, including a number of Australian bishops, regret the former Archbishopís interference in current Anglican arguments ñ notably his association with a hard-line lobby group in the Episcopal Church USA, ëEpiscopalians Concernedí, and his decision to confirm anti-gay dissidents who refused the Bishop of Virginiaís ministry.

These actions, the letter suggests, are divisive and amount to disloyalty to Dr Williams, who is trying to bridge the increasingly bitter argument within the 77 million worldwide Anglican Communion.

Lord Carey has been highly dismissive of his critics so far, calling them ill-informed, mischievous and un-Christian. In his ABC interview he said he hoped the General Convention of the Episcopal Church USA (which meets in June 2006) would refrain from further consecrations of gay people, to avoid ìa major schism in the communion.î

Dr Carey also criticised Bishop Robinson personally, saying ìhere is a man who is now an alcoholic, as wellî. The New Hampshire bishop, who endured vitriolic verbal attacks in the run-up to his consecration, voluntarily checked into a rehabilitation unit in February 2006, in order to address ìan increasing dependence on alcoholî.

His diocese issued a statement at the time saying that they had not noticed the effect of alcohol on Robinsonís ministry, which has been widely commended, adding that they were ìfully supporting our bishop and his family Ö and we commend him for his courageous example to us all.î

Writing for Ekklesia, Dr Wood, who is parish priest of Grace Church Joondalup and Anglican chaplain to Edith Cowan University in Perth, stresses that the issues raised in the Open Letter concern the ex-Archbishopís judgement rather than his integrity.

The signatories, says Dr Wood, ìare concerned that a disagreement among fellow Christians is being deepened in a way which does serious disservice to the message of love which lies at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus.î

In his own interview with ABC, Dr Wood commends the former Archbishop, who he says ìhas all sorts of valuable connections and can have a very positive influence, not least in inter-faith dialogue.î

He adds: ìWe are simply concerned that he should keep out of highly contentious mattersÖ facing the Anglican community of churches right at the moment.î

In his own statement on the issue, Dr Carey accuses the 135 signatories of the Open letter of ìcausing division where there is noneî and affirms his support for Dr Rowan Williams ñ whose appointment to a diocesan bishopric post he is alleged to have blocked during his own tenure at Canterbury.

Lord Carey adds: ìI have no role in the Anglican Communion except that of a priest and bishop, and only have a continuing Episcopal ministry through the invitation of diocesan bishops.î

Speaking to Ekklesia earlier this week, Dr Wood responded: ìBishop Carey seems to think that the serious concerns raised in the Open Letter can be easily dismissedÖ But the fact that so many ordinary Anglicans from all over the world have signed [the Open Letter] indicates widespread frustration with Bishop Carey, and shows that his support for Archbishop Rowan is, sadly, anything but obvious to us.î

David Wood is author of Poet, Priest and Prophet, a biography of the late Bishop John V Taylor, one of the most widely acclaimed mission theologians of the last century. More recently he also contributed to Consuming Passion, a study of atonement and violence edited by Ekklesiaís directors Simon Barrow and Jonathan Bartley.

[Also on Ekklesia: Feature - Anglicans need more jaw and less war, by David Wood; Lord Carey says blasphemy laws should go; Muslim anger at Carey's comments about Islam; Carey condemns disinvestment plan; Former C of E head says tide is turning against the church; Gay bishop likened to black civil rights campaigners; Anglican bishops apologise for misinformation about Gene Robinson; Gay bishop rejects attack by Tatchell; Bishop never said Jesus was gay; Church would be more 'godly' if it embraced gays says bishop; Tutu calls on Anglicans to accept gay bishop; Diocese of New Hampshire responds to Windsor Report; Windsor Report does not call for apology; Bishop Robinson denies report about Lambeth Conference attendance]

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