Thursday, July 04, 2002

George Carey fired up in Oxford

(here is a message from my friend David Virtue from the Oxford Conference on Anglicanism. Apparently as he ends his period as Primate, Dr Carey is more ready to speak out than he was several years ago. Some of us have asked him over the last decade to be clear concerning the ECUSA and its apostasy and he has held back. Now he seems to be ready to act.....although he only has a moral influence here) ---The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With little prior notice and even less warning word went out that Dr. George Carey the Anglican Communion's leading spiritual figure would preach Wednesday at Evensong.

For the three hundred Evangelical Anglican leaders gathered to discuss the future of Anglicanism it was a serendipitous moment. Their leader was taking time out of his busy schedule and would be with them.

Bishops from five continents, theologians, priests and a handful of laity, waited in anticipation as Carey, dressed in cassock appeared in the parish of St. Aldate's in downtown Oxford, smiling and clearly at home. He was confident and in control. These are, after all, his people. South East Asian Primate Archbishop Yong Ping Chung sat next to him on the makeshift stage all smiles as Carey stepped forward.

Murmurs of approval and laughter greeted his opening remarks. "I think I am the most overdressed person here tonight..." then Carey dropped a bombshell.

"Before I get into my sermon I want to talk about something that I know is on the hearts and minds of everyone here tonight, it is about the situation in the Diocese of New Westminster in Vancouver, Canada."

Then Carey said that the resolution recently passed at the 2002 Synod affirming same sex blessings "undermined the sanctity of marriage, promoted schism and was ecumenically embarrassing."

He then went on to say that he stood with the 11 rectors and nine parishes that repudiated the vote and said the actions of New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham were unacceptable to him and that he was consulting his fellow Primates about what appropriate action to take.

This is, without doubt, the strongest public statement Dr. George Carey has ever made in his 11 years as Archbishop about the state of the Anglican Communion.

The delegates were stunned, then murmurs of approval moved through the crowded church.

Without missing a beat Carey launched into his sermon.

Earlier in the day Carey delivered himself of the situation in a statement "Archbishop calls for restraint and reflection over Canadian decision" (see digest for complete statement). In it Carey asked Ingham for clarification on five points.

They are; the precise status of the decision, the consent and ratification required and the process which now ensues; The extent and limitation of the pastoral oversight delegated to any Episcopal Visitor scheme; safeguards for clergy and others dissenting from the move; The contribution so far and possible future role of the Canadian House of Bishops; and The extent to which wider factors, including the implications for the Province and the Anglican communion were a part of the debate.

Carey's remarks were like a thunderbolt. In all the years I have been listening and following George Carey he has never come out so boldly and publicly acknowledging that the actions of one province threatened schism in the Communion. On the contrary he has fought stubbornly for unity over truth siding with U.S. Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold against the AMiA and he has repeatedly fudged the issue of homosexuality arguing and believing that it was more important to keep the lines of communication open where there were dissenting priests facing hostile liberal bishops, and urging them to keep talking, stay and to take no hasty action.

Yesterday all that changed.

Earlier in the day when he met with the consultation group, a core of about 70 leading evangelical Anglican leaders drawn from the broader conference, Carey dropped another bombshell. He told a handful of leaders that if he had been a priest in that [Ingham's] diocese he would have done exactly the same thing and walked out of the Synod convention.

The three parish rectors from the New Westminster Diocese who are at the conference were both delighted and stunned by Carey's announcement. They have been waiting like condemned men on death row for Ingham to drop it on them that because of their actions and their disassociation from the Diocese of New Westminster over the passing of the resolution to bless same-sex unions, that their licenses would be pulled and they would be out of their parishes. (See interview with the Rev. Paul Carter and the Rev. Dr. Tim Cooke).

Carey did not wait around to be interviewed.

With Carey's blunt warning to Ingham yesterday the fulcrum of power switched from the New Westminster bishop to Carey and the Primates who must now decide what action they will take against the revisionist Canadian bishop and Spong clone.

Carey's statement must now be reckoned with his earlier public support of Canadian Primate Michael Peers who has sided with Ingham over the Synod's decision, as has the Archbishop of the BC Province, David Crawley.

Carey's statement also strengthens the hands of the 13 Canadian bishops who have publicly sided with the dissenting priests in New Westminster but who have been reluctant to act in any significant way because of their Primate Michael Peer's support for Ingham. Their hands will now be untied, with the possibility, as one of the 13 evangelical bishop's told me, to provide ecclesiastical oversight and to relicense the priests should Ingham take drastic action and try to force them out of their parishes.

However VIRTUOSITY has learned that the nine ESSENTIALS parishes and 11 rectors will stand or fall together. They will not budge, and they will not leave their parishes even if Ingham demands it. It would take Police action to lever them out, and it is doubtful that even someone as venal and bullying as Ingham would stoop that low. Time alone will tell.

Yesterday's news will come like rain in Colorado for evangelical and orthodox ECUSA priests under siege in liberal and revisionist American dioceses.

How Carey's statement will impact Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison in his war against Fr. David Moyer rector of Church of the Good Shepherd; Fr. David Ousley, St. James the Less and Fr. Eddie Rix of All Saints' Wynnewood remains to be seen.

Nor can the implications of primatial action against Ingham be lost on U.S. Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. What part of Romans 1: 27 doesn't he understand?

Clearly the coming days and weeks will see increased tension as the Primates under Carey consider what action they will take against Bishop Michael Ingham.

If George Carey thought he could bow out in October with his house in order, he has clearly disabused himself and us of that.

While the Communion waits in fear and trepidation over who the next Archbishop of Canterbury will be, it is clear that whoever it is, he will inherit the whirlwind of a Communion divided over profound issues of morality and theology. Only a fool, it would seem, would want the job.

Among the stories you will read today is an interesting debate between two theologians, Dr. Paul Zahl and Dr. William Dickson over what is the best approach in dealing with ECUSA's apostasy.

Dr. Zahl argues for alternative Episcopal oversight, Dr. Dickson for an alternative Anglican Province in North America. Both are highly intelligent men and make their arguments well. Some of the feedback from the floor indicated a strong desire by participants to stay and fight with the argument being that sooner or later truth will triumph, and while the battle looks temporarily lost, things have a way of turning around. Nothing remains static, especially in ECUSA. Bishops come and go and eventually ECUSA could move away from Griswold's pluriform thinking and back to a clear evangelical and Biblical faith. South Carolina Bishop Ed Salmon seemed to sum it up when he said that bearing one's cross is part of the call to being an evangelical and an Episcopalian. He might just have that right.

All Blessings,

David W. Virtue

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