LONDON -- To the sound of music from the 12th and 20th centuries, with the pageantry of medieval ritual, a new archbishop of Canterbury was enthroned yesterday, promising to lead the Anglican church with missionary zeal.
George Carey, 55, the former Bishop of Bath and Wells, becomes the 103rd archbishop of Canterbury since St. Augustine of Canterbury (597-607), in whose chair he sat for part of yesterday's service.
He is comparatively young for the job of Primate of All England and head of the 70-million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion, and made it clear yesterday that he would be a religious activist.
He told the congregation at his enthronement yesterday: "No church can or should avoid political comment when freedom, dignity and worth are threatened."
He said: "The Cross of Jesus Christ firmly roots us in human concerns and needs -- and places us alongside the oppressed, the dispossessed, the homeless, the poor and the starving millions of our planet."
He noted particularly the plight of the Kurds. He also said the release of Western hostages in Lebanon, including Terry Waite, the special Middle East envoy of his predecessor, would be a priority.
He inherits religious authority at a time when the Church of England is split over the ordination of female priests, which he supports; the participation of homosexuals in the clergy; and the pursuit of the evangelical style of worship he favors. He had "charismatic" music played during his enthronement.