He said: 'Adultery and the breakdown of faithfulness and trust that it represents is more than a mere indiscretion.
'It is a sin. It is a failure to live up to the kind of standards we expect from all people in authority.'
Asked if adulterous ministers should resign, he replied: 'In my opinion that ought to be the case, but I don't want to deal at the level of particular situations and circumstances.'
The Government has sought to portray ministers' infidelity as a private matter which need not affect their ability to hold public office.
But Dr Carey, reported in a newspaper article yesterday, said that public and private life could not be separated. 'It cannot be said that reliable evidence of hypocrisy, untrustworthiness, irresponsibility or selfishness in one aspect of life is irrelevant to a person's general credibility. People do not switch morality on and off like a light bulb.
'Enormous personal pain and social damage can flow from lack of discipline and faithfulness in sexual behaviour. The very serious consequences of family breakdown and irresponsible sexual activity constitute an issue of major public concern for all sectors of society, including our political leaders. It is not, therefore, a matter to be swept under the carpet.'
Dr Carey said he believed a morality drive was vital and hinted that he had urged the Government not to abandon its back-to-basics campaign.
He said if Britain wanted a society where principles of law and order prevailed, ''we have to get back to the kind of basic standards which come from a strong Christian tradition and strong churches which are making their own contribution to the life of our nation'.Reuse content