George Carey

From Academic Kids

The Right Reverend and Right Honourable George Leonard Carey, Baron Carey of Clifton, PC (born 13 November 1935), was the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, from 1991 to 2002. He was the first modern holder not to have attended Oxford or Cambridge University. His time as Archbishop saw the Church of England allow the ordination of women priests.

George Carey was born in the East End of London. He failed his eleven plus and attended Bifrons Secondary Modern School, Barking before leaving at the age of 15. He worked for the London Electricity Board as an office boy, before doing his National Service at 18 in the RAF, during which he served in Iraq.

He became a Christian at 17, when he attended church with his friends: "I had a conversion experience which was very real... There were no blinding lights, simply a quiet conviction I had found something," he later said.

During his National Service he decided to seek ordination and after his discharge he studied intensely, gaining 6 O-levels and 3 A-levels in 15 months, before attending King's College London. He graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Divinity and was ordained.

He was a curate at St Mary's Islington, worked at Oak Hill Theological College and St John's Nottingham and became vicar of St Nicholas Church, Durham in 1975. Within two years he had trebled the congregation. He later wrote a book on his experiences there called "The Church in the Market Place".

In 1982 he was appointed as Principal of Trinity College, Bristol, and was appointed as Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1988. He was enthroned as the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury on 19 April 1991. It is reported that he delayed his retirement (which took place on 31 October 2002), as Queen Elizabeth II asked him to stay until after her Golden Jubilee celebrations.

George Carey is a member of the Evangelical section of the Church of England. He strongly supported the ordination of women, even denouncing opponents of it as heretics. He was opposed to homosexual relationships amongst members of the clergy, but has since admitted that he ordained two bishops whom he suspected of having same-sex partners. He has also now backed secular same-sex partnerships, as long as they are not called marriages and are not blessed in church.

As Archbishop, he was also active in inter-faith work, and worked for better relations with Muslims, calling for "deeper dialogue" between the two faiths. However, on 25 March, 2004 he made a strongly worded speech, attacking the lack of democracy and innovation in Muslim countries. He criticised the lack of critical scholarship toward the Qur'an and said that moderate Muslims should "resist strongly" the take-over of Islam by extremists. He was also very critical that the majority of Muslims, despite not supporting the extremists, did not denounce them.

This speech was widely interpreted as an outspoken attack on Islam, but George Carey has since defended it saying "Those who took the trouble to read my lecture will have noted that I was as critical of the West, of Christianity and, for that matter, also sharply critical of Israel's policy with respect to Palestine."

George Carey is also the first Archbishop of Canterbury to publish his memoirs, entitled "Know the Truth". These talk about his time as Archbishop, and include details about the British royal family, including his private meetings with Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. In it he calls for them to marry. These revelations have been widely criticised.

Select bibliography

1984 The Church in the Marketplace - details how he transformed a parish church in Durham.

1986 The Gate of Glory - a study of Christian doctrines of the crucifixion.

1989 The Great God Robbery

1998 Canterbury Letters to the Future

2004 Know the Truth - autobiography

External links

Preceded by:
John Monier Bickersteth
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Succeeded by:
James Lawton Thomson
Preceded by:
Robert Runcie
Archbishop of Canterbury
Succeeded by:
Rowan Williams

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