The new Archbishop of York, the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, has stated his support for the Black Lives Matter movement and insisted that Jesus himself was a black man.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Cottrell said:
"Jesus was a black man and he was born into a persecuted group in an occupied country.
"The leadership of the Church of England is still too white, and I hope under my watch we’ll see further changes on that. The Church of England has not been good at reimagining what its ministry of leadership should look like."
Cottrell, who replaces the Rev Dr John Sentamu — the Church of England's first black Archbishop — also insisted that the church should be doing more to address racism. "One of the failings the church has made has been a form of tokenism without addressing the deep systemic issues of exclusion and prejudice," he explained.
He added: "It's more about our structures and our shape. Sadly I’m sure there are one or two individuals who would still have racist attitudes, but it’s not that, it is about how we’re structured. But one of the things I’ve seen change in my own time has been the inclusion of women. I am very frustrated often at the pace of change, but equally I’m not going to apologise much because actually there has been such a lot of change that has been so positive.
"The inclusion of women in leadership has made such a difference and I’m determined to continue that with the BAME community.”
Owing to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, Cottrell is set to be inaugurated via a conference call on Thursday. "I’m facing the prospect of becoming the Archbishop of York by Zoom conference,” he said. “It will be a historic first.”