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ISSUE 1564
Monday 6 September 1999

Carey may lead prayers at Dome in compromise

By Oliver Poole and Victoria Combe

Shoppers offered salvation

THE Archbishop of Canterbury appears to have accepted a compromise arrangement to lead the nation in prayer at 11.15pm on New Year's Eve at the opening of the Millennium Dome.

Dr George Carey had previously threatened to boycott the event after the Government offered him a slot at 10.30pm. He felt that it was not close enough to the start of the new Millennium. It is understood the Queen intervened to encourage a solution, knowing it would embarrass her, as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, if Dr Carey were not present.

Lambeth Palace said no final decision could be made until Dr Carey returned to work. He was expected to be back from his annual holiday today, but he was admitted to hospital in London yesterday for treatment to a septic wasp sting.

The Rev Stephen Lynas, the Archbishop's Officer for the Millennium, who is responsible for co-ordinating the Christian elements in the celebrations, said that it appeared possible that Dr Carey might be present on Millennium Eve. Although the composition of Dr Carey's prayer is as yet unknown, the content is expected to be acceptable to all Christian denominations.

The Roman Catholic Church believed it would be shown to the English Churches Millennium Group. Contrary to expectations, the leaders of other faiths have also supported demands for the Christian story to be given prominence. The Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, has publicly said Dr Carey should lead the nation in prayer on Millennium Eve.

In an attempt to prevent non-Christians feeling excluded from the New Year celebrations, the Government is to host a multi-faith Millennium event inside the Palace of Westminster on Jan 3.

Chris Smith, the Culture Secretary, has invited 400 representatives from nine faiths - Baha'is, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Jews, Zoroastrians and Christians - who will take part in the hour-long ceremony in the Great Hall. It will follow a series of national Christian services in London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff on Sunday, Jan 2.

5 September 1999: Carey wins battle on Dome prayer
3 September 1999: Millennium mind games add cerebral touch to the Dome
27 June 1999: Queen's Dome row 'concern'
20 June 1999: Hume's wish for prayer at Dome opening is rejected
9 May 1999: Carey may get his way over prayers at Dome
26 February 1999: Churches in new threat to boycott Dome event
24 February 1999: Church wins prayer space inside Millennium Dome

©Copyright 1999, Telegraph

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