In comments made during the online election service for the new Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, Justin Welby said that Anglicans must confront their own history of racism.
The Church of England’s highest-ranking cleric was speaking in a virtual ceremony to mark the formal election of Stephen Cottrell as the 98th Archbishop of York.
The Church of England, established in 1534 after king Henry VIII’s split from Roman Catholicism, last month apologised for its links to slavery, calling it a “source of shame”.
The apology came against a backdrop of anti-racism protests in Britain and across the world, sparked by the death during the police arrest of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in the United States.
Welby said the Church’s past included both “saints and slave traders”.
“Living as Christians requires us to live not only in fellowship with Christians around the world but also with the Church throughout time,” he said.
“With the Church of England, we know that some of those bring baggage. We find saints and slave traders, the proud and prelatical, with the humble servant of the people.
“They are part of us, of our inheritance, to be reformed, to be repented of, to be imitated.”
The BBC further reports that Archbishop Welby also acknowledged the coronavirus pandemic in his remarks following the formal election.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said “the foundations of our society have been shaken to their core by the ravages of the coronavirus”.
Speaking as he opened the service, he added: “The whole church is committed to pray for all those who have been affected and continue to be affected by this pandemic.”