The Church of England is “too white” while “Jesus was a black man”, according to the new Archbishop of York.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Stephen Cottrell praised the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, and said his inauguration this week as a white man replacing outgoing Archbishop John Sentamu — who is black — is “awkward” for the church.
“The leadership of the Church of England is still too white, and I hope under my watch we’ll see further changes on that,” he said, asserting that the church has work to do “addressing the deep systemic issues of exclusion and prejudice”.
Cottrell, who The Times describes as “a liberal moderniser”, told the newspaper he wanted to celebrate BLM and was certain that Jesus Christ would have joined in with their protests, many of which have erupted into violence in cities across the West.
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“Jesus was a black man, and he was born into a persecuted group in an occupied country,” the new archbishop said.
During the interview, he praised “the inclusion of women in leadership” within the church but confessed to being “very frustrated often at the pace of change”.
Cottrell went on to affirm his support for “LGBTQ+ Christians”, stating that pastoral guidance maintaining church teaching that heterosexual marriage ‘remains the proper context for sexual activity’ should have “been worded more carefully”.
“There are people with strongly held traditional views that I understand and respect, and I want them to be part of the church. But at the same time I’m thinking of LGBTQ+ Christians and their experience; I don’t want them to be disenfranchised or excluded, so we’re going to have to find a way of living together with disagreement,” said the second-most powerful cleric in the Church of England.
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The Essex-born church leader’s remarks on Jesus and the BLM movement echo comments from the Church of England’s most prominent cleric, Justin Welby, in recent months.
Earlier this year, the Archbishop of Canterbury decried the church as “deeply institutionally racist”, professing: “I am almost beyond words. Personally, I am sorry and ashamed. I’m ashamed of our history and I’m ashamed of our failure.”
After far-left activist Shaun King demand last month that all statues showing Jesus as caucasian be torn down on the basis they are “a form of white supremacy”, Welby called for a ‘rethink’ on traditional portrayals of the Son of God.
In the wake of BLM protests, the church leader — who has previously declared God to be gender-neutral — called for a review into church statues and monuments, stating that “some will have to come down, some names will have to change”.
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