LONDON - The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey is set to renew the storm over homosexuality in the Church next month when he plans to bless hundreds of American traditionalists who have decided to boycott their own pro-gay bishop.
The divide forming within the worldwide Anglican community will be revealed further as this high-profile intervention by Lord Carey will almost certainly be criticized by supporters of his successor, Dr. Rowan Williams.
The proposed blessing will come just weeks before the publication of the final report by the Lambeth Commission, which was set up last year by Williams to avoid a schism.
Eleven conservative parishes will gather together as Carey prepares to confirm hundreds of adults and children in Virginia who have rejected the ministry of their diocesan bishop, Rev. Peter Lee, as a result of Lee’s support of Rev Gene Robinson, the Anglican Church’s first active homosexual bishop.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury was invited to perform the ceremony by Canon Martyn Minns, an English born rector from Truro church in Virginia – one of the largest parishes in the American Episcopal Church.
The ceremony will be legitimate according to Church regulations because Carey is understood to have sought permission from Lee to operate in Virginia at the ceremony on September 15th.
Carey’s actions will come as a great boost to the conservative minority in the US who are demanding protection from the liberal majority.
Canon Minns said, “This will be an occasion for celebration but also a sign of the serious brokenness of the Episcopal Church and a tragic reminder of our alienation from the ministry of our own bishop."
Hundreds of parishes across America, including the Truro parish, are withholding money from the central diocesan funds to protest against the decision last summer of the Episcopal Church’s liberal leadership to confirm the consecration of Bishop Robinson, who lives with his male companion. This had led to more than 100 parishes splitting from the Church and affiliating themselves with the evangelical dioceses in Africa.
In response to this, a number of traditionalist dioceses have formed a new network which demands the establishment of a parallel “Church within a Church” to provide ministry across the world. This idea is being pioneered by Lord Carey, and would allow traditionalist parishes that have liberal bishops to invite conservative bishops.
Rev. Richard Kirker, who is the secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said "This is an insensitive and provocative trip which will cause dismay to Rowan Williams, just as it would if, when George Carey was Archbishop, his predecessor Robert Runcie had gone ahead and ordained an openly gay man as a bishop. There are plenty of other bishops to conduct confirmations, and George Carey is doing much more. He is trying to turn the service into a needlessly provocative gesture."