THE Church of England has a new spiritual leader to take it into
the 21st century. He is George Carey, an avowed evangelical
Christian, who in January will become the 103rd Archbishop of
The selection by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Queen
Elizabeth II of a little-known cleric of working-class origins to
succeed Archbishop Robert Runcie as leader of the Church of England
and its 70 million adherents around the world at first stunned, then
appeared to please most Anglicans.
Dr. Carey, a scholar and a Christian traditionalist, has been a
bishop for less than three years and was not considered to be a
strong candidate for archbishop.
Hours after the announcement of his appointment, Carey said he
intended to administer his church with the help of a group of
bishops of his own generation.
"I want to encourage the Church of England to grow numerically as
well as in its understanding of the Christian faith," Carey said.
"Sadly, all too often the church seems light years away from many
people - people like the ones I grew up with."
Speculation about the new occupant of the Anglican Church's most
important see, which was first held by St. Augustine of Canterbury
in 601, has been rife since the spring when Dr. Runcie announced his
It had been thought that the Crown Appointments Commission, which
makes recommendations about bishoprics to the prime minister, who in
turn advises the queen, would propose a more prominent candidate.
Instead, their unanimous choice after weeks of secret
deliberation turned out to be the son of a hospital porter who was
born in London's East End, did poorly at school, and was converted
to Christianity at the age of 17.
Carey, currently Bishop of Bath and Wells in the west of England,
comes from the "evangelical" wing of his church. This sets him apart
from "Anglo-Catholic" and "liberal" Anglicans who do not place such
heavy emphasis on the scriptures and traditional Christian theology.
He is strongly against the ordination of practicing homosexual
clergymen, of whom there are a significant number in the Church of
Carey counts himself a "charismatic Christian" and favors singing
and dancing as part of church worship. He will be the first
Archbishop of Canterbury in this century to have served as an
ordinary parish priest.
He favors the ordination of women as priests, is regarded as a
"green" on environmental issues, and said soon after his appointment
was announced that he intended his church to be "better managed. …