Carey warns of evangelical split

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The Independent Online
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, warned yesterday against fervent evangelicals hijacking the Church of England's decade of evangelism.

'The Church could so easily settle for easy answers which will satisfy only those already convinced that church is the Truth,' he told a conference on the Gospel in Culture, in Swanwick, Derbyshire. 'My fear for this decade of evangelism is that it may encourage the forces . . . which actually wish to erect fences of doctrine and discipline leading to a sectarian fellowship of believers.'

Dr Carey was speaking after a General Synod meeting which had heard that some vicars insisted on a public repentance before they will marry couples who have been living together, and refuse baptism to babies whose parents are not regular church attenders.

Dr Carey said that the church should become like a cathedral he had visited in Papua New Guinea, which had a roof, but no walls. People were able to come in, or stay on the edges, listen for a while if they wished and then walk away. 'I believe with all my heart that the Church of Jesus Christ should be a church of blurred edges . . . a church of no walls where people can ask their hardest questions without condemnation and share their deepest fear without reproach.' Britain had been multi- cultural long before the arrival of immigrants of different faiths, the Archbishop said. 'I was brought up in a working class culture vastly different from the one I now inhabit. British working class culture has traditionally been regarded as particularly difficult for religion to penetrate.'

The Church of England's General Synod meeting at York broke up yesterday with supporters and opponents of women priests bewildered at the lack of acrimony following Saturday's vote which appeared to herald defeat for the legislation when it returns to synod in November.

Though there were majorities among clergy, laity and bishops for the ordination of women, the House of Laity produced 93 votes against to 146 for. Since the legislation will require a two-thirds majority in all three houses, 13 of those who voted against must be converted. Fifteen members were absent. If every member of the House of Laity votes in November, 86 votes against will be sufficient to veto the legislation.

The Rev John Broadhurst, a leading Anglo-Catholic opponent of the legislation, claims to have 87 lay members of the synod who will vote against. The Catholic Group is hoping that it can raise a blocking third in all three houses of the synod.

However, supporters of the measure remain confident and believe their opponents can only achieve a delaying action. Some supporters of women priests have complained that delegates are not representative of diocesan feeling.

Letters, page 20