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June 28, 2005

Peter Mullen welcomes the appointment of Archbishop Sentamu

Posted by Peter Mullen

The Ugandan-born John Sentamu was recently appointed Archbishop of York, becoming the Church of England's first black archbishop. Rev'd Dr Peter Mullen - the Anglican Rector of St Michael's, Cornhill & Chaplain to the Stock Exchange - welcomes this appointment. He does so not for politically correct reasons, and certainly not because John Sentamu is a liberal-modernising reformer, but because John Sentamu has life in him. This is something that is sorely lacking in the Church of England.

What are we to make of the appointment of Rt Reverend John Mugabi Sentamu to be Archbishop of York?

I have a personal recollection of him. This was at a clergy conference in Oxford back in 2001. Bishop Sentamu was preaching and he said:

In a few minutes it will be time for us to exchange the Peace. I want you to hug one another – and in a minute I'm going to ask you to do something else.

Well, I knew the Church of England had developed a more relaxed attitude to sexual mores in recent years, but I must admit to some trepidation, especially as I looked round at my nearest neighbours in the pew.

The Peace came and there was the usual melee of handshakes and cuddles, clergypersons strolling about, backslapping, smiles on full beam – nothing you wouldn't see degrading a regular Anglican celebration of the Holy Mysteries these days. Suddenly the Bishop bellowed:

I want you to turn to the person next to you, place your hands on his or her…shoulders and say three times, "You are everlastingly loved".

Relieved that that was all being expected of us, I turned to my colleague the Rector of St James Galickhythe and mumbled as best I could the magic words. Fr Alan Griffin was merciful in his regard for my embarrassment and, as I recall, covered it beautifully with the reassurance that he would buy me a pint before lunch.

I was just glad it was all over. But it wasn't. The Bishop was not satisfied and he called out:

Again, do it again – and louder!

It all took me back to the Christmas pantomime at the Sunderland Empire circa 1956 and the bellowing compere:

He's BEHIND you!

I thought any minute Bishop Sentamu might strike up with:

Where's the Archdeacon? Have any of you little children seen the Archdeacon?

It’s good that John Sentamu has got the second biggest job in the Church of England. This is not because he's black, and certainly not because he's on the liberal-modernising edge. It is because he has life in him, and he will not be slow to speak up when an Archbishop ought to speak.

Of course there will be those uncharitably tempted to say that his appointment is that of an African who is a moderniser as a counterweight to the conservative African bishops who are playing hell with the English Church authorities about their permissive policy on homosexuality. As if the General Synod apparatchiks had said:

See – we've got our own African bishop, and he's one of us!

A more serious criticism perhaps is that Bishop Sentamu was a member of the Macpherson Inquiry which followed the murder of Stephen Lawrence. This is the Inquiry which popularised the paranoid concepts "institutional racism" and "unconscious racism". When sceptics asked for a justification for these tendentious neologisms it declared loftily:

We do not pretend to produce a definition which will carry all argument before it.
In other words, we won't answer your awkward questions.

Worse, the Inquiry went on to define a racist incident as:

..any incident so described by the victim, or any other person.
This is meaningless of course, but it is the catch-all, you're-guilty-even-when-you're-innocent terminology beloved of oppresive regimes. It is a bad omen when a future Archbishop of York is seen to be giving his backing to such lying definitions. But we may hope that his elevation to a position of high authority will make John Sentamu hesitate before he allows his name and status to be abused by the gang of political opinion which operates coercion under the euphemism of "inclusivity".

The Church of England has spent the last forty years dismantling the English Christian tradition. The church is dominated by modernising bishops and synods, many of whom despise the heritage and deposit of faith: that is why they have thrown out The King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer, "demythologised" the miracle stories of the New Testament and turned the truths about God into mere metaphors for social policy. The General Synod has published reports on every social issue from glue sniffing to the H-bomb.

The new Archbishop has a great opportunity to reverse this process which has left a whole generation knowing no prayers by heart – so they have no spiritual consolation available to them in times of pain and grief. The result of the forty years of modernising frenzy is that millions are ignorant of God's saving grace.

My priesthood is in the City of London. Last week a young City worker said to me:

These thousands of twenty-somethings who work in the banks and insurance offices are not stupid or wilfully perverse. They're bored out of their heads all day. So there's this competition: every night has got to be absolutely fabulous. And it can't be. So they're out on the piss. And you see lovely young women sitting alone on the pavement at one o'clock in the morning crying their eyes out. They've got no spiritual hinterland. They haven't been taught any real religion. So all they have to express their deepest feelings are the crappy lyrics of pop songs and the sentimental guff of the lifestyle supplements.

What they need is the truth that can make them free. John Sentamu says:

It is imperative that the church regains her vision and confidence in mission, developing ways that will enable it to reconnect imaginatively with England.

Bravo Archbishop and more power to your elbow. We're sick of endless bishops' reports, social-gospelling and the lies of political correctness. The new Archbishop speaks of confidence and imagination. That's right. We are hungry to hear the truth. We need the confident and imaginative preaching of Christian dogma.

Rev'd Dr Peter Mullen is Rector of St Michael's, Cornhill & Chaplain to the Stock Exchange.


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Well said. Spiritual truths are what England needs in spades. But how is that possible when the established Church is but an heretical spin off from the authentic Church of Christ headquartered in Rome? England's roots are Catholic and, God willing, the country will become so once again.

Posted by: Ed at September 2, 2005 09:05 AM
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