The archbishop said the England flag was now a unifying symbol
The Archbishop of York has said that making St George's Day a public holiday would promote unity in England.
Dr John Sentamu asked an audience in Oxford: "Has the time come to make the Feast of St George, the Patron Saint of England, a public holiday?"
He said people needed to be more confident about their Englishness or risk extremists filling the vacuum.
"The truth is an all-embracing England, confident and hopeful in its own identity, is something to celebrate."
Addressing the Sunday Times Literary Festival, he linked a lack of cohesive national identity with political extremism.
He said: "Previously an icon of extreme nationalists, a sign of exclusion tinged with racism, the flag of St George instead became a unifying symbol for a country caught up in the hopes of 11 men kicking a ball around a field."
The archbishop warned that lack of cultural identity could lead to a "twisted vision" being created by those dissatisfied with their heritage.
The archbishop said extremists would fill any vacuum in national identity
"Where there is no awareness of identity, there is a vacuum to be filled," he said.
"Dissatisfaction with one's heritage creates an opening for extremist ideologies.
"Whether it be the terror of salafi-jihadism or the insidious institutional racism of the British National Party, there are those who stand ready to fill the vacuum with a sanitised identity and twisted vision if the silent majority are reticent in holding back from forging a new identity."
He emphasised his speech was not intended as a criticism of multi-culturalism, but rather a call for different communities and religious groups to "embrace" England, and to add new elements to England's "fabric".
"Englishness is not diminished by newcomers who each bring with them a new strand to England's fabric, rather Englishness is emboldened to grow anew," he said.
"Let us acknowledge and enjoy what we are."