George Leonard Carey, Baron Carey of Clifton PC FRSA FKC (born 13 November 1935) is a retired Anglican bishop who was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002. During his time as archbishop the Church of England ordained its first women priests and the debate over attitudes to homosexuality became more prominent, especially at the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Conversion and ordination
- 3 Offices
- 4 Theological and social positions
- 5 Public statements since retirement
- 6 Family
- 7 Select bibliography
- 8 Honours and awards
- 9 Styles
- 10 References
- 11 Sources
- 12 External links
George Carey was born on 13 November 1935 in the East End of London in the United Kingdom. He attended Bonham Road Primary School in Dagenham, then failed his eleven plus.:14 He then attended Bifrons Secondary Modern School in Barking before leaving at the age of 15. He worked for the London Electricity Board as an office boy before starting his National Service at age 18 in the Royal Air Force as a wireless operator, during which time he served in Iraq.:32
Conversion and ordination
Carey became a committed Christian at age 17 when he attended a church service with some friends. He said that "I had a conversion experience which was very real ... There were no blinding lights, simply a quiet conviction I had found something."
During his National Service, Carey decided to seek ordination and after his discharge he studied intensely, gaining six O-levels and three A-levels in 15 months, before attending King's College London. He graduated in 1962 with a 2:1 Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) degree and was subsequently ordained. He later obtained a Master of Theology degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Durham. Carey is the first Archbishop of Canterbury in modern times not to have been a graduate of either the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge. The last Archbishop of Canterbury prior to Carey to not have been a graduate of Oxford or Cambridge was Simon Sudbury.
Carey was a curate at St Mary's Islington, worked at Oak Hill Theological College and St John's Theological College, Nottingham and became Vicar of St Nicholas' Church, Durham in 1975. Within two years he had trebled the congregation. He later wrote a book on his experiences there called The Church in the Market Place.
In 1982 Carey was appointed Principal of Trinity College, Bristol. He became Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1987; he was consecrated a bishop in December 1987 (by which point his election must have been confirmed) and enthroned in February 1988.
When Robert Runcie retired as Archbishop of Canterbury the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, encouraged by her former Parliamentary Private Secretary, Michael Alison MP, put Carey's name forward to the Queen for appointment. The religious correspondent for The Times, Clifford Longley, commented that "Mrs Thatcher's known impatience with theological and moral woolliness ... will have been a factor."
Carey was confirmed as Archbishop of Canterbury on 27 March 1991 and enthroned on 19 April 1991. He retired from the office on 31 October 2002 and was created a life peer as Baron Carey of Clifton, of Clifton in the City and County of Bristol on 1 November 2002.
As Archbishop of Canterbury, Carey promoted a "decade of evangelism". But he aroused strong opposition also, some of it quite personal. For example, one newspaper profile asked "Is he the worst Archbishop we have ever had?" in 1999 – before concluding that he was not, but that he was "without question the worst Archbishop imaginable for a media age". Michael Arditti, in his review of Carey's memoirs, wrote: "His eleven years in office were marked by unprecedented public criticism. He managed to alienate many of his natural supporters on the Evangelical wing of the Church, as well as both the Liberal and Conservative opposition. He was, arguably, the most excoriated archbishop since the execution of Charles I’s favourite, William Laud."
Carey is currently the Chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire and the London School of Theology. He is also an Honorary Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners and a Distinguished Fellow of the Library of Congress (Washington DC).
Theological and social positions
Carey's theological roots are in the Evangelical tradition of the Church of England. He strongly supported the ordination of women but also has close ecumenical links with the Roman Catholic Church, being chosen in 1976 to represent the Church of England at a meeting of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome.:84
Carey is tolerant of divorce and divorced people and the remarriage of divorced people. One of his sons is divorced and he also supported the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Camilla Parker-Bowles, whose first husband is living. He opposed homosexual relationships among members of the clergy, although he admits to having consecrated two bishops whom he suspected of having same-sex partners. He presided over the Lambeth Conference of 1998 and actively supported the conference's resolution which uncompromisingly rejected all homosexual practice as "incompatible with scripture".
Carey was criticised for his lack of neutrality on the issue of homosexuality by those attempting to reach a compromise position which had been presented to the conference by a working group of bishops on human sexuality. Carey also voted against an expressed condemnation (which had been present in the original form of the resolution) of homophobia. The resolution as a whole prompted one of Carey's fellow primates, Richard Holloway, Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, to declare "I feel gutted, I feel betrayed, but the struggle will go on".
Carey said: "If this conference is known by what we have said about homosexuality, then we will have failed." The resolution, however, was the beginning of an escalating crisis of unity within the Anglican Communion around the question of human sexuality which continues. This resolution is at the heart of current divisions within the Anglican Communion on the issue. In 1999 he was one of four English bishops who expressly declined to sign the Cambridge Accord: an attempt to find agreement on affirming certain human rights of homosexuals, notwithstanding differences within the church on the morality of homosexual behaviour. In an interview with Sir David Frost in 2002 he said: "I don't believe in blessing same-sex relationships because frankly I don't know what I'm blessing."
Carey was the first former Archbishop of Canterbury to publish his memoirs. The book, Know the Truth, mentions meetings with the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles and his thoughts that they should marry. In 1998 he made a public call for the humane treatment of Augusto Pinochet, the former dictator of Chile, who was at the time in custody in the United Kingdom.
In 2000, Carey was critical of the document Dominus Iesus, issued by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, saying that it "did not reflect the deep comprehension that has been reached through ecumenical dialogue and cooperation [between Roman Catholics and Anglicans] during the past 30 years ... the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion does not for one moment accept that its orders of ministry and Eucharist are deficient in any way. It believes itself to be a part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ, in whose name it serves and bears witness, here and round the world."
Public statements since retirement
As Archbishop of Canterbury, Carey was active in inter-faith work and worked for better relations with Muslims, calling for "deeper dialogue" between the two faiths. On 25 March 2004, after his retirement, he made a speech lamenting the lack of democracy and innovation in Muslim countries, suggesting a lack of critical scholarship toward the Qur'an and saying that moderate Muslims should "resist strongly" the take-over of Islam by extremists. He also criticised the majority of Muslims, who do not support extremists, for not denouncing them. Some[who?] viewed his speech as an outspoken attack on Islam; Carey responded: "Those who took the trouble to read my lecture will have noted that I was as critical of the West, of Christianity and, for that matter, also sharply critical of Israel's policy with respect to Palestine." Carey wrote an opinion piece in The Times on 10 September 2008 (p. 26) in which he said: "Immigration must be kept under control if we are to retain the essentials of British society that have been built up over the generations. ... If this scale of immigration continues, with people of different faiths, cultures and traditions coming here, what will it mean to be British?"
In February 2006, Carey attracted more controversy by declaring in a letter to The Times that a General Synod motion supported by his successor, Rowan Williams, in favour of disinvestment in a company active in the occupied territories of Israel made him ashamed to be an Anglican.
Since his retirement, Carey has supported same-sex partnerships in secular law but continues to oppose same-sex marriage and church blessings of same-sex partnerships. In March 2006, he personally endorsed "with enthusiasm" a questionnaire to American bishops from what he described as "Lay Episcopalians who wish their Church to remain faithful to Orthodox Christianity" in relation to the controversy in that church over the ordination of an openly gay bishop. For this, he was chided by Frank Griswold, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, "for allowing himself to be used by others whose political ambition is to sow division".
Carey initially said he "was not too upset" by the controversy but, in April 2006, when criticism of his post-retirement activism on a number of fronts had been voiced in an open letter, he issued a public statement complaining that such comments were "mischievous and damaging to the Anglican Communion". In an interview for the BBC, on 23 April 2006, he said "I think this is a mischievous letter from Australia and I hope the authors will reflect and repent."
In May 2006, he made a speech to the Virginia Theological Seminary, subsequently published on his personal website, which said "When I left office at the end of 2002 I felt the Anglican Communion was in good heart" but that, as a result of subsequent events "it is difficult to say in what way we are now a Communion." This was reported on 11 June 2006 in the Sunday Telegraph ("Church has fallen apart since I was in charge, says Carey") and on 12 June 2006 in The Guardian and The Independent as an attack on his successor. An email from Carey on the day of publication was circulated in which he strongly denied this and said "I am hopping mad and will want a retraction from the Sunday Telegraph, otherwise I will lodge a complaint."
In September 2006, he backed Pope Benedict XVI in the controversy over his comments on Islam and declared that "there will be no significant material and economic progress [in Muslim communities] until the Muslim mind is allowed to challenge the status quo of Muslim conventions and even their most cherished shibboleths." However, his comments attracted much less attention and interest than those of the Pope.
In November 2006, Carey was barred from delivering a Church Mission Society lecture at Bangor Cathedral by the Dean of Bangor, who viewed that Carey had become "a factor of disunity and of disloyalty to Rowan Williams, a divisive force."
In September 2009, Carey provoked outrage among some Anglicans by making positive remarks about the arms trade. He was quickly condemned by a number of Christian activists, particularly since the Lambeth Conference has resolved to oppose the arms trade.
In October 2009, Carey said it was inexcusable that the Vatican gave a relatively short notice of its offer to receive some Anglo-Catholics into the Roman Catholic Church within a personal ordinariate, but he nonetheless gave a cautious welcome to the offer.
In January 2010, Carey gave an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, in which he said as part of the Balanced Migration Group he would want to start a debate on the UK's migration policy. He said that while the UK migration policy should not "give preference to any particular group", the points-based immigration system should give preferences to certain prospective migrants based on their values and backgrounds. In the same interview, however, he states that he was worried that the UK will become less of a Christian country and that he believes migration policy should foster the preservation of the Christian heritage of the United Kingdom.
In April 2010, Carey submitted a witness statement to an appeal court considering the dismissal of a relationship counsellor who had refused to work with homosexuals, in which he suggested that intervention by senior clerics, including himself, was "indicative of a future civil unrest". In the same statement, he suggested that cases engaging religious rights should not be heard by any of the judges who had decided the previous cases, "as they have made clear their lack of knowledge about the Christian faith." His submission was rejected by the Court as "misplaced" and "deeply inimical to the public interest". Carey's position was widely criticised in the press. Andrew Brown, writing in The Guardian, suggested that the effect of the judgment was to say that Carey was "a self-important and alarmist twit who has no idea what he is talking about". The Church Times commented that "One might be forgiven for thinking that Lord Carey of Clifton has generated more column-inches since retiring as Archbishop of Canterbury than he did when in office. His latest foray into the nation’s media is more than usually regrettable, as it strikes at the heart of the independence of the judiciary." However, his position was supported by his former colleague, the retired Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir Ali.
In February 2012, speaking at the launch of the advocacy group Coalition for Marriage, Carey voiced his opposition to the government's proposal to legalise same-sex marriage, stating that he was "worried and disappointed" and calling the proposal "cultural vandalism". In March 2013, Carey spoke of being "very suspicious" that behind plans for gay marriage "there lurks an aggressive secularist and relativist approach towards an institution that has glued society". In May 2013, Carey claimed same-sex marriage could set a "dangerous precedent" which could lead to sibling marriage or polygamy. Carey criticized the British government for seeking to change the definition of marriage to "a long-term commitment between two people of any sex, in which gender and procreation are irrelevant".
Carey has been a leading advocate for the rights of Christians in advance of a case on religious freedom, expected to begin on 4 September 2012 at the European Court of Human Rights, regarding the case of two workers forced out of their jobs over the wearing of crosses as a visible manifestation of their faith.
Carey married Eileen Harmsworth Hood in 1960. They have two sons, Mark (an Anglican priest) and Andrew (formerly Deputy Editor of the Church of England Newspaper and currently a freelance journalist); and two daughters, Rachel and Elizabeth.
- 1977: I Believe in Man - a study of Christian anthropology (Hodder & Stoughton)
- 1984: The Church in the Marketplace – details how he transformed St Nicholas' Church, Durham
- 1986: The Gate of Glory – a study of Christian doctrines of the crucifixion.
- 1989: The Great God Robbery
- 1997: God Incarnate: Meeting the Contemporary Challenges to a Classic Christian Doctrine
- 1998: Canterbury Letters to the Future
- 2004: Know the Truth – autobiography
- 2012: We Don't Do God: The marginalisation of public faith with Andrew Carey (Monarch)
Honours and awards
- 2002: Royal Victorian Chain (House of Windsor)
- 2009: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I (House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies)
- 1991: Honorary D.D. degree from the University of Kent (Kent, England)
- 1992: Honorary D.D. degree from the University of Bath (Bath, Somerset, England)
- 1992: Honorary D.D. degree from Nottingham University (Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England)
- 1993: Honorary D.D. degree from Durham University (Durham, County Durham, England)
- 1995: Honorary D.D. degree from the Open University (England)
- 1999: Honorary D.D. degree from The University of the South (Sewanee, Tennessee, USA)
- 1999: Honorary D.D. degree from City University (London, England)
- 1999: Honorary D.D. degree from the University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Indiana, USA)
- 2000: Honorary D.D. degree from the Southern Methodist University (University Park, Texas, USA)
- 2002: Honorary D.D. degree from Wycliffe College (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
- 2005: Honorary D.H.L. degree from the University of Cambodia (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)
- 2006: Honorary D.D. degree from the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, England)
- Mr George Carey (1935–1962)
- The Reverend George Carey (1962–1988)
- The Right Reverend Dr George Carey (1988–1991)
- The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr George Carey (1991–2002)
- The Right Reverend and Right Honourable The Lord Carey of Clifton (2002–present)
|url=missing title (help). Retrieved 3 May 2010. [dead link]
- CAREY OF CLIFTON, Who's Who 2012, A & C Black, 2012; online edition, Oxford University Press, December 2011 Accessed 11 July 2012
- Carey's official website
- Information on the Archbishop of Canterbury website
- Biography on Debrett's website
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Archbishop of Canterbury