Carey blames 'bad religion'

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The Archbishop of Canterbury last night blamed "bad religion" for contributing to many of the world's worst problems.

In a speech at the United Nations in New York, Dr George Carey called for the 70 million-strong Anglican Communion to take a greater role in seeking solutions to international strife, offering its services as an "honest broker" in the Bosnian conflict.

But he admitted that Anglicans in Rwanda - where leading church figures have been accused of tolerating, and even collaborating in, genocide - had failed to provide a "shining example".

He said: "Despite many individual acts of heroism and prophetic witness, it seems the leadership was in some way compromised and discredited."

Recalling his recent apology to the people of Ireland for their treatment by the English over the centuries, Dr Carey said: "I am glad to be able to pay tribute to all parties involved that the ceasefire has not been violated in any serious way."

He was speaking at the introduction of the Anglican Church's second observer at the UN, Jim Ottley, the former Bishop of Panama.

In 1990, Anglicans became the second religious group to gain observer status at the UN, after the Vatican. The Archbishop said Canterbury could provide a "counterweight" to Rome at the UN, by, for instance, advocating responsible artificial contraception. He said that religion could be both a cause and solution of strife. "Misunderstanding or even hostility between the great world faiths could create the great fault lines and even earthquakes of the future unless responsible and tolerant international religious bodies exercise their influence in the direction of peace, respect and dialogue between the faiths.

"Bad religion is part of some of the worst problems. But good religion is part of the answer," Dr Carey added.

He emphasised the solidarity between the Anglican and Catholic communities, but said there should be other strong Christian voices as well as the Vatican's.