Letter: Dr Carey is a good archbishop

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The Independent Online
Dr Carey is a

good archbishop

Sir: Paul Vallely's article (29 May) "Simple preacher tries on a pontiff's robes" misrepresents the Archbishop of Canterbury. The picture he paints bears no resemblance to the Archbishop with whom I frequently travel, and have grown to respect enormously in the time I have worked with him.

Like his predecessor, he has no pretensions to a papal position in the Anglican Communion. He is well aware he has no jurisdiction outside England, except in Sri Lanka, Bermuda and the Falkland Islands. More often he has to resist the high expectations which other provinces place upon him.

The Archbishop only travels to dioceses and provinces which invite him. These invitations pile up here in large numbers from the more "democratic" provinces such as the US, Canada and Australia. The Archbishop has restricted the number of overseas visits he makes because of his heavy responsibilities in this country.

Dr Carey is often at his strongest when he meets heads of state and other significant leaders. He has a rare ability to speak-simply, sensitively and clearly to very varied audiences. This should not be confused with lack of rigour or intellectual ability. The standing ovations he received from an extraordinarily wide variety of audiences in the US last week belie the accusations made in Mr Vallely's article. Comparisons between Dr Runcie and Dr Carey are pointless. Surely the valid questions are "Was Dr Runcie a good archbishop?" and "Is Dr Carey a good archbishop?". From my experience worldwide, the answer to both questions is undoubtedly "Yes!"

The Revd CANON


Lambeth Palace

London SE1

The writer is the Archbishop of Canterbury's Secretary for Anglican Communion Affairs