‘Racist’ campaign to derail Sentamu’s Canterbury chances
Bishop refers to ‘African chief thing’ after claims of racist campaign against Canterbury favourite
AN ALLY of Dr John Sentamu, the favourite to replace Dr Rowan Williams as the Archbishop of Canterbury, warned that the Ugandan-born Archbishop of York has become the victim of a racist campaign to derail his chances a month before two anonymous bishops referred negatively to his African origin.
Reverend Arun Arora, who is about to become the Church of England’s director of communications, said in a blog post last month: “At its best, the besmirching of John Sentamu has revealed that strand of snobbery which views outsiders as lacking class, diplomacy or civility - in other words ‘not one of us’.
“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.”
Rev Arora's claims of “anonymous whispering” have been given new impetus today after two unnamed bishops brought up Dr Sentamu’s race in disparaging remarks to The Sunday Telegraph.
One said: “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.
He said he would prefer the “level-headed” Bishop of Norwich, adding, “You wouldn’t know where you were with Sentamu, whereas you would with Norwich.”
Another, retired, bishop said: “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.”
This, he believes, is obvious in Dr Sentamu’s “understanding around issues of human sexuality”.
Earlier this year, the Archbishop of York opposed government plans to legalise same-sex marriage, saying: “Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.”
Dr Rowan Williams announced last month that he would step down as the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Church, at the end of the year. Dr Sentamu was swiftly named as favourite. As Robert Chesshyre observed for The Week, the installation in Lambeth Palace of a man who once languished in a Ugandan jail cell as a political prisoner of Idi Amin would be “one of the most astonishing ascensions to the top of the British establishment tree there has ever been”.