The consecration of an openly gay bishop in America's Episcopal Church has done "incalculable" damage to the global Anglican Communion, former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey said in a letter published Thursday. However, he urged all factions in the communion to hold together and
strengthen their "bonds of affection."
In a letter to The Times of London newspaper, Carey said he shares the distress of conservative evangelicals following Sunday's consecration of Gene Robinson as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of Anglicanism. Subsequently, Nigerian archbishop Peter Akinola, speaking in the name of the "Global South" of the communion, said he would no longer participate in any meetings with Episcopal leaders.
"I can only share the principled distress of the primates of the Global South and others who have expressed themselves so strongly in recent days," Carey wrote. "They are surely right to do so. The damage done to ecumenical relations, interfaith dialogue, and the mission of the worldwide church is incalculable."
Carey served as archbishop--and thus spiritual leader of the communion--from 1991 to 2002 and presided at the 1998 Lambeth Conference, which denounced " homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture."
Carey's successor, Rowan Williams, has appointed a commission to examine the practical issues of governance, both within the Episcopal Church and the wider communion, because of the deep divisions over Robinson's ordination.
"Whatever the way forward in maintaining communion between the two sides, I can only add my voice to that of my successor in encouraging all those most deeply affected not to drift away from each other but to strengthen the bonds of affection that remain at the heart of Anglicanism," Carey wrote.