The Full Wiki

George Carey: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Right Reverend and Right Honourable
 The Lord Carey of Clifton
Archbishop of Canterbury
Enthroned 19 April 1991
Reign ended 31 October 2002
Predecessor Robert Runcie
Successor Rowan Williams
Personal details
Born 13 November 1935 (1935-11-13) (age 74)
London, England
Signature George Carey's signature

George Leonard Carey, Baron Carey of Clifton PC FKC (born 13 November 1935) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002. He was the first modern holder not to have attended Oxford or Cambridge University. His time as archbishop saw the Church of England allow the ordination of women priests and a rising debate over attitudes to homosexuality at the Lambeth Conference of 1998.


Early life

George Carey was born in the East End of London in England. He attended Bonham Road Primary School in Dagenham, then he failed his eleven plus.[1]: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 doing his National Service at 18 in the RAF as a Wireless Operator, during which time he served in Iraq.[1]:32

Conversion and ordination

He became a Christian at 17, when he attended church with his friends: "I had a conversion experience which was very real ... There were no blinding lights, simply a quiet conviction I had found something," he later said.

During his National Service he decided to seek ordination and after his discharge he studied intensely, gaining 6 O-levels and 3 A-levels in 15 months, before attending King's College London. He graduated in 1962 with a 2:1 Bachelor of Divinity degree and was ordained. He later went on to earn M.Th and PhD degrees.


He 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 he was appointed as Principal of Trinity College, Bristol, and was appointed as Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1988.

When Robert Runcie retired as Archbishop of Canterbury the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, encouraged by her former Parliamentary Private Secretary Michael Alison MP, sent Carey's name forward to the Queen for appointment.[2] The religious correspondent for The Times, Clifford Longley, commented that "Mrs Thatcher's known impatience with theological and moral wooliness...will have been a factor."[3]

He was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury on 19 April 1991. He retired from the position on 31 October 2002 and was created a life peer as Baron Carey of Clifton, of Clifton in the City and County of Bristol, one month later.

As Archbishop of Canterbury, he promoted a "decade of evangelism". He was also praised for his administrative efficiency. But he aroused strong opposition also, some of it quite personal. For example, one notorious newspaper profile asked "Is he the worst Archbishop we have ever had?"[4] in 1999 - before concluding that he wasn't, but that he was "without question the worst Archbishop imaginable for a media age." Michael Arditti, in his review of Lord Carey's memoirs,[5] 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."

Currently he is Chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire.

Theological and social positions

George Carey as illustrated on the cover of his memoirs

George Carey's theological roots are in the Evangelical section of the Church of England. He strongly supported the ordination of women; but he 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.[1]:84

He is tolerant of divorce and divorced people and the remarriage of divorced people. His son is divorced and he supported the remarriage of the Prince of Wales to Camilla Parker-Bowles whose first husband is living. He opposed homosexual relationships amongst members of the clergy, although he admits having consecrated two bishops whom he suspected of having same-sex partners. He presided over the Lambeth Conference of 1998 and actively supported the resolution at that conference which uncompromisingly rejected all homosexual practice as "incompatible with scripture".

Carey was criticised for his lack of neutrality on the issue by those attempting to rescue a compromise position which had been presented to the conference by a working group of bishops on human sexuality. George Carey also voted against an express condemnation (which had been present in the original form of the resolution) of homophobia. The resolution as a whole was described by one of Carey's fellow primates, Richard Holloway, Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, as a betrayal.

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. Carey was also one of those who expressly refused to sign the Cambridge Accord, which sought to reach consensus on at least the human rights of homosexuals. 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."[6]

George 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. Some in the media suggested that this might have been a breach of confidence, but Carey repudiates this. In 1998 he made a public call for the humane treatment of General Augusto Pinochet, the former dictator of Chile, who was at the time in custody in the UK. [7] [8]

In 2000, he was critical of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's document Dominus Iesus, 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." [9]

Public statements since retirement

As Archbishop, he 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 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.[10] Some 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."[11] 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." He said: "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, he attracted more controversy by declaring in a letter to The Times that a General Synod motion supported by his successor in favour of disinvestment in a company active in the occupied territories of Israel made him ashamed to be an Anglican.[12]

Since his retirement, he has supported same-sex partnerships in secular law but continues to oppose gay marriage and the blessing of gay partnerships in church. 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,[13] he issued a public statement complaining that such comments were "mischievous and damaging to the Anglican Communion".[14] 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".[15]

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 Lord Carey of Clifton 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 the Pope 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."[16] However, his comments attracted much less attention and interest than those of the Pope.

In November 2006, he 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."[17]

In September 2009, Carey provoked outrage amongst Anglicans, by making positive remarks about the arms trade.[18] He was quickly condemned by a number of Christian activists, particularly since the Lambeth Conference has resolved to oppose the arms trade [19] [20].

In October 2009, he said it was inexcusable that the Vatican gave a relatively short notice of its offer to receive dissident traditionalists into the Roman Catholic Church, but he nonetheless gave a cautious welcome to the Vatican's offer.[21]

In January 2010 he gave an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said as part of the Balanced Migration Group he would want to start a debate on UK's migration policy. He gave the remark that while the UK migration policy should not "give preference to any particular group", but the points-based immigration should give preferences to certain prospective migrants' based on their values and backgrounds. In the same interview, however, he states that he is worried that UK will become less of a Christian country and that he believes that migration policy should foster the preservation of the Christian heritage of UK.[22]


Lord Carey is married to Eileen. 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.

Select bibliography

  • 1984: The Church in the Marketplace - details how he transformed a parish church in 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

Honours and accolades


  • 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 PC DD (2002-)


  1. ^ a b c Carey, George. Know the Truth. Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-00-712029-X.  
  2. ^ Michael Alison - Telegraph
  3. ^ John Campbell, Margaret Thatcher. The Iron Lady (Jonathan Cape, 2003), p. 394.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Breakfast with Frost". BBC News. 2002-10-27. Retrieved 2008-02-23.  
  7. ^ Colin Brown "Straw may release Pinochet". The Independent (London). Oct 23, 1998. 12 Sep. 2006.
  8. ^ The Sunday Times, October 31, 1999. "Carey pleads for Pinochet to be released". from a Pinochet watch website Retrieved on September 12, 2006.
  9. ^ Reactions to Dominus Iesus (2000)
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Lord Carey: Islam and the West Text of Lecture Delivered at University of Leicester, May 12, 2004". University of Leicester. Retrieved 2009-08-22.  
  12. ^ "Lord Carey 'ashamed to be an Anglican'". 2006-02-08. Retrieved 2008-05-29.  
  13. ^ "Open letter to Lord Carey of Clifton". London.,,2087-2136284,00.html. Retrieved 2008-02-23.  
  14. ^ "Statement from Lord Carey". Retrieved 2008-02-23.  
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Carey backs Pope and issues warning on 'violent' Islam". London.,,2-2366419,00.html. Retrieved 2008-02-23.  
  17. ^ "Cathedral bans Carey as a 'divisive force'". London.,,2-2432840,00.html. Retrieved 2008-02-23.  
  18. ^ "Former Archbishop Carey under fire over arms trade comments". Retrieved 2009-09-11.  
  19. ^ "Resolution 28". Retrieved 2009-09-11.  
  20. ^ "Resolution 40". Retrieved 2009-09-11.  
  21. ^ Anglicans' ex-leader slams Vatican
  22. ^ Former archbishop Carey backs '70m population cap'
  23. ^ Honorary Degrees, University of Durham,, retrieved 2009-06-25  
  24. ^ "Rt. Rev. and Rt. Hon. George Leonard Carey, Baron Carey of Clifton". The Peerage. Retrieved 2009-08-22.  

External links

Church of England titles
Preceded by
John Monier Bickersteth
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Succeeded by
James Lawton Thomson
Preceded by
Robert Runcie
Archbishop of Canterbury
Succeeded by
Rowan Williams
Preceded by
Robert Runcie
Primate of All England
Succeeded by
Rowan Williams

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address