VATICAN CITY, JAN. 8, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, announced that he will retire in October, and the Holy See quickly expressed its gratitude for his efforts at ecumenism over the years.
In a statement published this morning, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity refers to the archbishop´s commitment to promote and further relations between Anglicans and Catholics.
“Archbishop Carey visited the Holy Father on several occasions over his 10 years as archbishop of Canterbury, indeed, more than any of his predecessors,” the statement notes.
“The image of him kneeling with an Orthodox leader alongside the Holy Father as they together opened the holy door at St. Paul Outside the Walls to begin the Jubilee Year is firmly planted on our memories,” the statement continues.
“We know he has a very full schedule ahead of him prior to his retirement, but would like at this time to express our profound thanks for the many blessings of his years of leadership as archbishop of Canterbury,” it concludes.
A statement issued by Lambeth Palace, the Anglican archbishop´s see, specifies that the 103rd archbishop of Canterbury will continue to carry out all his duties and responsibilities relating to the Church of England or the Anglican Communion (which embraces 70 million faithful) until Oct. 31.
Dr. Carey, 66, was appointed bishop of Canterbury by Margaret Thatcher in 1991. Theoretically, he could remain in office until 2005.
The Anglican leader´s efforts to come closer to Rome suffered a severe setback in the early 1990s when the Church of England approved the ordination of women to the priesthood.
Dr. Carey will leave his post after the June celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II´s 50 years as sovereign and supreme head of the Anglican Church.
The procedure for succession to the office of primate of the Church of England requires that a commission of the British Crown and the Prime Minister, in this case Tony Blair, begin a series of consultations on the candidates.
Blair will have to decide between two names suggested by the commission. At the queen´s request, the Prime Minister will then proceed with the appointment.