Carey Calls Story on Licensing of Conservative Pennsylvania Rector 'Simplistic'

Episcopal News Service. September 13, 2002 [2002-212]

Jan Nunley

(ENS) Reports that Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey offered to license a deposed Philadelphia priest are "putting it too simplistically," Carey said in an ENS interview in New York on September 10.

The Rev. David Moyer was deposed September 4 by Pennsylvania bishop Charles Bennison on charges that Moyer had refused Pennsylvania bishops access to Moyer's parish for a decade. According to the organization Moyer heads, Forward in Faith/North America (FiF/NA), at the moment Moyer received word of the deposition, the archbishop of Central Africa, Bernard Malango, accepted Moyer into the Diocese of the Upper Shire and then transferred Moyer to the Diocese of Pittsburgh at the request of its bishop. Moyer was received the next day by Pittsburgh bishop Robert Duncan as a priest in good standing.

In a letter expressing "gratitude" to Malango and Duncan, Moyer claimed that "the Archbishop of Canterbury believes me to be in good standing with him and is prepared to offer me Permission to Officiate in the Diocese of Canterbury and a license in the Province of Canterbury."

"Basically when Bishop John Broadhurst in Britain wrote to me and said--about that--I wrote back and said, if Father Moyer wanted to be resident in England then he has to apply, and then yes, I would give him a license, and I will certainly give a permission to officiate," Carey told ENS.

"I see that Rowan Williams has come up with the same statement. And so basically we're singing from the same hymnbook," Carey said. Apparently, a similar letter was sent to Carey's designated successor, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Wales, who responded that he "could see no objection" to granting a Permission to Officiate to Moyer "if the circumstances arose."

"It's not a blanket permission but it's certainly a confident one, because I've met him on several occasions," Carey said of Moyer. "I want to say the whole conflict saddens me very much indeed and I'm sure it must everyone here."