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Tuesday, July 13, 1999 Published at 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK


Church to confront racism

Synod: Told the church maintained institutionalised racism

The Church of England is committing itself to confronting racism and increasing the numbers of black and Asian vicars.

The BBC's religious affairs correspondent Richard Staples: "White, educated elite"
The pledge, delivered by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey at a meeting of the General Synod in York, was in response to an accusation of institutionalised racism by one of the Church's black bishops.

The Bishop of Stepney, the Right Reverend John Sentamu, a member of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry team, said the Church had failed to monitor what had happened within its walls with regard to racism or create programmes for change.

[ image: Reverend Sentamu: Identifying challenges thrown up by Lawrence report]
Reverend Sentamu: Identifying challenges thrown up by Lawrence report
He said within the Church the "expectation of the historic, white, educated elite English norm is maintained, regardless of the make-up of a congregation".

Rev Sentamu's remarks came as he identified challenges he believes the report into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence throws up for the Church.

In response to Rev Sentamu's criticism, Dr Carey told the Synod that the Church was still a "very long way from being home and dry" with regard to racism.

Dr Carey committed the Church to increasing the numbers of black and Asian priests as well as having more people from the ethnic communities on its staff and councils.

[ image: Dr Carey:
Dr Carey: "More black and Asian priests needed"
"We cannot afford to rest, either as a Church or as a society, until we have confronted such racism at its deepest level - in our nation, in the structures of our Church, in the ordained ministry, in congregational life," said Dr Carey.

He said the Church would celebrate the diversity of mankind. Without each other, "we are less of the people God intends us to be", he said.

Rev Sentamu is one of only two black bishops in the Church of England.

He said the definition of racism and institutional racism outlined in the Lawrence inquiry report should be used by the Church, as well as police and Government bodies, as a "plumb line to judge its corporate life".

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