Synod: Carey attacked over gay stance

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A leading American bishop yesterday accused the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, of weak leadership over homosexuality in the church.

Bishop John Spong of Newark, New Jersey, who played a key role of getting the issue of gay priests discussed at the last Lambeth conference 10 years ago, chose yesterday, the first day of the General Synod in Westminster, to condemn Dr Carey's handling of homosexuality.

In a letter to all Anglican primates, Bishop Spong condemned Dr Carey's "steadfast refusal" to meet representatives of Britain's lesbian and gay Christian movement."We need to be reminded that the white, apartheid- supporting government of South Africa also sought to act in this way," wrote Bishop Spong.

Bishop Spong launched his attack because he fears that when 800 bishops from around the world meet at the Lambeth Conference next summer the question of gay clergy will not be given a fair hearing.

Dr Carey's response read: "I am saddened by the hectoring and intemperate tone of your statements which appears to leave little room for the dialogue you demand ... you attack personally those of us who disagree with your opinion and in so doing you distort the theologies and reasons why we are led to conclude that there is no justification for sexual expression outside marriage."