Carey Recommends Monastic Life

The Christian Century, December 15, 1999 | Go to article overview

Carey Recommends Monastic Life


The archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, has backed a call for more Anglican monks and nuns, saying they "witness to values which are so often scorned in our society." He described the traditional monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as "a threefold protest against the tyranny of materialism, sexual idolatry and unbridled individualism which oppress so many today."

The Anglican leader, who is the spiritual head of the Church of England and of the worldwide Anglican Communion, was addressing the church's ruling General Synod on November 17 during a debate about religious communities.

Carey spoke of the communities' catholic nature--in temperament, history and spirituality--and said: "This archbishop is evangelical, but not narrowly so, and religious communities also transcend the pigeonholes that some wish to place them in. And no longer is it the case that vocations come only from the Anglo-Catholic tradition of our church: I have met a number recently whose pilgrimage started with a conversion experience in evangelical churches, and who remain grateful to their evangelical heritage."

Carey said that the "common assumption of many outside the church might well be that religious communities are out of touch and irrelevant. But my experience has shown that in the praying life of religious communities there is the greatest understanding of mission and unity, the most awareness of human frailty and weakness and the keenest expectation of God's amazing grace and mercy."

Father Adam Mayoss of the Community of the Resurrection, one of the best-known monastic orders in Anglicanism, told the synod that many of the 45 Anglican religious communities in England are down to a handful of elderly members. His own monastery has a fraternity of supporters around the world numbering 2,000. The late Archbishop Trevor Huddleston, a noted campaigner against apartheid in South Africa, was a member of the community. …

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