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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 08:04 GMT 09:04 UK
Hate mail sent to new archbishop
Archbishop John Sentamu
Dr Sentamu has the second highest post in the Church of England
The first black Archbishop of York has revealed that he has received racist letters, including some covered in human excrement.

Ugandan-born Dr John Sentamu, who will be enthroned in York next month, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he prayed for those who sent the hate mail.

He said: "I don't know where they are from. They don't tell you.

"They simply tell you, I am Mr White X and nigger go back and this is what you are like, this is what you are worth."

Asked if he was angered by the letters, Dr Sentamu said: "Particularly when they put human excrement on them. I don't want to have that kind of thing.

"And I say to myself, why are people doing this?

In the end, when I get those letters, I actually pray for the person who's written them
Dr John Sentamu

"I want to suggest it is therefore my job to search a person, if I at all encounter them, to show them the sheer love of God.

"Because, you see, the gospel offers forgiveness for the past, new life for the present, and hope for the future.

"I think when you get those letters you say, well they don't know me, they've never met me. We've never had a conversation, and they think really that I'm awful and I'm entitled to read these terrible things.

"In the end, when I get those letters, I actually pray for the person who's written them.

"Unfortunately some of those people never ever tell you who they are so I say, Letter X, God, which is so ghastly and so awful, by your mercy, love and care for them."

Dr Sentamu has already spoken of his desire to banish homophobia from the church and said his new role in the second-highest post of the Church of England was "an exciting prospect".

The 56-year-old was educated in Uganda, where he practised as a barrister and was an outspoken critic of Idi Amin's regime, before coming to the UK in 1974.

He was ordained in 1979 and after serving in a succession of London parishes, he was appointed Bishop of Stepney in 1996 and Bishop of Birmingham in 2002.

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17 Jun 05 |  England


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