- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Retired Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey came to one of Virginia’s oldest and largest Episcopal churches yesterday to confirm more than 300 people who are boycotting the ministry of their own bishop because of his stance on homosexuality.

Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax scheduled two back-to-back confirmation services, beginning in the late afternoon, to accommodate the 318 Episcopalians from 11 parishes.

“I am here to show how we can share generosity to each other at a very difficult time in the Anglican Communion,” said Archbishop Carey, who wore an elaborate gold-and-red cape and marched in to the hymn “The Church’s One Foundation.”

In remarks before the service, he sided with Episcopal conservatives who disagree with last year’s consecration of V. Gene Robinson as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire. Bishop Robinson was the first openly homosexual priest to be consecrated.

“There are those of us who believe the practice of homosexuality is wrong,” the archbishop said. “It goes against Scripture and the whole weight of the Christian world.”

The archbishop did not openly chide Virginia Episcopal Bishop Peter Lee, who was one of 62 bishops to confirm the Bishop Robinson election.

“I hope my presence is a positive thing,” said the archbishop, who praised Bishop Lee for allowing him into the diocese. “I’d never be here if the bishop of Virginia would be unhappy with my being here and say it’d only exacerbate the issue.”

Bishop Lee issued a statement saying he hoped “this pastoral gesture will be seen as a way of accommodating people who have differing views within the Diocese of Virginia.”

Yesterday’s confirmation ceremony came one month before the release of a document from the “Eames Commission,” an 18-member group of Anglican scholars and clergy charged with hammering out a compromise between conservatives and liberals over homosexuality.

Two London newspapers reported that the document, to be released Oct. 18, recommends suspending U.S. and Canadian bishops who supported the Bishop Robinson election or allow homosexual “marriages.”

The commission is being pressured to take a hard line against the Americans and the Canadians by African bishops, who preside over the majority of the world’s 70 million Anglicans. They have threatened to set up a rival Anglican Communion if their concerns are not heard.

The split has touched nearly every U.S. diocese, particularly that of Virginia, the largest Episcopal diocese in the country, with 89,000 members. Once Bishop Lee cast his vote for Bishop Robinson’s election, several Virginia congregations began asking him not to visit them for their annual confirmation rite.

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