Last week, before the McFarlane judgment was issued, the Church Times carried an article by Mark Hill entitled Judges should not be hand-picked.
One might be forgiven for thinking that Lord Carey of Clifton has generated more column-inches since retiring as Archbishop of Canterbury than he did when in office. His latest foray into the nation’s media is more than usually regrettable, as it strikes at the heart of the independence of the judiciary.
In a witness statement placed before the Court of Appeal on Thursday of last week, Lord Carey sought to lend his support to an application by Gary McFarlane that his case be heard by a specially constituted Court of Appeal comprising five Lords Justice who had “a proven sensitivity to religious issues”.
By what authority he sought to intervene is far from clear. He gave written evidence that, during his time as 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, he was “responsible for the spiritual welfare of 70 million Anglicans in the worldwide communion” — a curious assertion in the light of the principle of autonomy underscored by the Lambeth Quadrilateral (See Press) His compulsion to intervene was couched as follows: “I am bound by my commitments as former Archbishop of Canterbury to defend the spiritual requirements of the Anglican Communion and of all sincere Christians. I am also bound to consider the rights of religious minorities.”
He seems to forget that, after he vacated the see of Canterbury, his successor inherited these responsibilities. As Monty Python would put it, he is an ex-Primate…
The same issue had comment on this topic by Andrew Brown in the Press column (scroll down past the pope stuff).
LORD CAREY’s impulse to self-dramatisation as a member of a persecuted Church is not as sinister as Cardinal Castrillón’s. Sorry, that was disrespectful: let me quote his proper dignities, as set out in the preamble to his witness statement: “I was the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury and I was responsible for the spiritual welfare of 70 million Anglicans in the worldwide communion. I was created Lord Carey of Clifton upon retirement. . . Currently, I am Chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire, and I am the recipient of 12 Honorary Degrees. I am the author of 14 books.” Not even Baron Widmerpool could boast as much, and he had the advantage of an Eton education…