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UK News

'I was completely shocked': vicar 'devastated' after discovering bishop's racial stereotype comments

by Premier Journalist

A vicar from Aldershot has revealed his "absolute devastation" after discovering a letter written about him which contained racial stereotypes.

Rev Alwyn Pereira found the comments, penned by the former Bishop of Bristol, Rt Rev Mike Hill, in a church file. 

Bishop Mike wrote: "Having worked very closely with people from the Indian sub-continent in my past, I think there are cultural differences in the way people like Alwyn communicate, and actually handle issues of truth and clarity."

The former bishop, who retired in 2017, has since admitted that the comments were "unacceptable and offensive".

Pereira said he was "completed shocked" at the discovery. "It was like something pierced me in my very depth," he said. "I thought it might have been from the 1970s but to read it on paper. I didn't know what to make of it." A complaint brought by Pereira has since gone to appeal. 

Though the note was discovered back in 2017, Pereira said he chose to speak out about the issue after many Church of England clergy came out in support of Black Lives Matter following the death of George Floyd. The vicar said it was a "pivotal moment" for the Church to change on issues of race.

He added: "The reality is I have not received an acknowledgement of the pain I went through. It requires a wholesale reprogramming of attitudes and minds."

In a statement on the comments, Bishop Mike said: "I wrote a letter in support Alwyn Pereira with the intention of helping him secure a future ministerial role.

"In this letter, I used racial stereotypes which were unacceptable and offensive. I deeply regret the incident and I wholeheartedly apologise."

The current Bishop of Bristol, Rt Rev Vivienne Faull, said the comments were "unacceptable" and that she hoped to "find reconciliation and a way forward."

She added: "I have made the commitment to address institutional racism and to recruit and support more BAME clergy.

"This work won't be easy but I will be relentless in my dedication to bringing about change."

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