It was very disturbing to witness the experiences of certain people in the Anglican ministry in the recent BBC Panorama programme ‘Is the Church Racist?’
In the interview with Archbishop Cottrell, no mention was made of his predecessor Dr Sentamu, who was held in the highest esteem and love and was surely one of the most successful and effective Archbishops of York. A baffling omission.
I speak as a Catholic, and former Anglican.
I can certainly say I have witnessed little, if any, racist attitudes in my own church as far as laity is concerned. People are accepted in the Catholic church in a natural and universal way irrespective of their background. I think I’m safe in saying the same applies to most church denominations in the UK.
I do remember, however, working in an Anglican community in the 1970s where personal comments (not racist, but certainly upsetting and personal) where made to me by a number of people which tarnished my experience there. And this was a place which liked to present itself as progressive and modern. Not as groundbreaking as it made out at the time.
As someone said to me years later with the irony of experience, “You can’t beat a good narrow mind”. The Church remains a deeply human, flawed institution, and must struggle, with God’s help, to rectify issues like racism and covert bullying however it manifests itself.
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