The Anglican church could possibly have its first black spiritual leader…of course there is going to be racism, right?
The church of England’s only black bishop, tipped to become the new leader of the 80-million strong worldwide Anglican Communion, is the victim of blatant racism, a former aide told a British newspaper. “At its best, the besmirching of (Archbishop of York) John Sentamu has revealed that strand of snobbery which views outsiders as lacking class, diplomacy or civility — in other words ‘not one of us,'” Rev Arun Arora told The Sunday Telegraph newspaper. “At worst, it has elicited the naked racism which still bubbles under the surface in our society, and which is exposed when a black man is in line to break the chains of history.”
Outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who has agonized about schisms in the Anglican Communion, a federation of 38 national and regional churches, is over women and gay bishops and same-sex unions, announced unexpectedly last month that he would step down at the end of the year. He presided over a church split between progressives ready to allow women bishops and bless same-sex unions, and conservatives opposed to such modern reforms.
The resignation of Willliams, a white-bearded and bushy-browed theologian, appeared to spell the end for his faltering project to forge more unity in the federation. Arora’s charges of an “anonymous whispering” campaign against Uganda-born Archbishop of York John Sentamu came as an anonymous bishop compared Sentamu’s temperament to that of an “African chief,” according to the Telegraph. Sentamu was born in Uganda and fled to Britain in 1974 to escape from dictator Idi Amin.
A second unnamed bishop told the newspaper: “I think Sentamu is clearly going to be a very strong front-runner, although I think there are also the people who are not quite sure that he is suitable in terms of the way he behaves, because he is quite tribal and the African chief thing comes through … There is something in Sentamu which retains his African views and approach, which can be at one time an asset and another time can be a problem.”
When he announced his decision to step down, Williams said it was time to move on after a decade as archbishop and a his new post as master of Magdelene College at Cambridge University would give him the time “which I have longed for” to think and write about the Church. Sentamu has praised Williams as “God’s apostle for our time,” a courageous and holy man who had been “much maligned by people who should have known better.”