CANTERBURY, England — A new Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, was enthroned Friday, and he vowed to lead a missionary Anglican Church that will speak for the oppressed and not be afraid of involvement in politics.
"The cross of Jesus Christ . . . places us alongside the oppressed, the dispossessed, the homeless, the poor and the starving millions of our planet," he said.
The hospital porter's son was enthroned as Canterbury Cathedral's 103rd archbishop before royalty and representatives of the world's religions, in a ceremony blending medieval splendor with hand-clapping gospel songs.
The ceremony, watched by 2,200 people in the medieval church and by a national television audience, confirmed the 55-year-old Carey in Canterbury's two thrones. One symbolizes his bishopric, the other his leadership of 70 million Anglicans in 164 nations--including 2.5 million Episcopalians in the United States.
Princess Diana and Princess Margaret represented Queen Elizabeth II, the temporal head of the Church of England. Prime Minister John Major, whose humble origins match Carey's, represented the government. Neither Margaret Thatcher, the recently retired prime minister, nor Carey's predecessor, Robert A. K. Runcie, attended.
Carey wants to modernize worship, just as he wants to ordain women as priests in the Church of England, braving the wrath of traditionalists in a campaign to recruit Christians.
The century's youngest Primate of All England and president of the worldwide Anglican communion belongs to the missionary-minded "evangelical" wing of the church.
Carey welcomed to the service people who could not accept Christian doctrines, including Jewish, Muslim and Sikh divines.
Addressing immigrants of other faiths who might wonder whether they had a place in Britain, he said he was compelled--"necessity is laid upon me"--to share his faith. But he added that he plans to "listen to your story and respect your integrity."
His sermon also focused on Communist persecution of East Europe's Christians and on the "living martyrdom" of Church of England envoy Terry Waite, a hostage in Lebanon since 1987.
"No church can or should avoid political comment when freedom, dignity and worth are threatened," Carey said.
As the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, Carey can look back to the first: Saint Augustine, who came as a missionary from Rome in 597.
The present Church of England dates from the 16th Century when King Henry VIII rejected the pope's authority. It remains the state religion.
Carey is a traditionalist on faith and morals, saying the church has lost its sense of sin. Gay activists staged a mock flagellation and burning at the stake to protest his disapproval of homosexuality.
But he is radical in other aspects. The Movement for the Ordination of Women released purple balloons across England to hail him as a champion of women priests.
Carey grew up as a cockney in London's poor East End, left school at 15 and then studied at home to gain a place to read divinity at the university.
He likes chocolate cake, enjoys a pint of beer in a pub, supports the Arsenal soccer team club and praises simplicity.
The archbishop and his wife Eileen, a nurse, have four grown children and two grandchildren.