The Church of England must act urgently to root out institutional racism, an internal inquiry has warned.
The Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce has made 47 proposals to end a ‘rut of inaction’ spanning several decades.
These include the requirement that shortlists for senior clergy should include at least one minority ethnic candidate by September.
The taskforce is also calling for annual reports on recruitment, mandatory training to embed anti-racism practice, and full-time racial justice officers.
It wants to see a plan drawn up to lift representation of minority ethnic people to at least 15 per cent at all levels of governance by 2030.
There are just five minority ethnic bishops and nine deans, archdeacons and senior staff.
All the proposals have a timetable for action and details of which part of the Church is responsible for delivery.
The nine-member taskforce was set up in autumn 2020 after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby (pictured), said the Church was still ‘deeply institutionally racist’ [File photo]
The report says: ‘Decades of inaction carry consequences and this inaction must be owned by the whole Church.
‘A failure to act now will be seen as another indication, potentially a last straw for many, that the Church is not serious about racial sin.’
The nine-member taskforce was set up in autumn 2020 after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the Church was still ‘deeply institutionally racist’.
It considered more than 20 reports and 160 recommendations made to the Church from the mid-80s, and grouped its proposals into key areas where it said ‘action had fallen short’.
Rev Arun Arora, a Vicar in the Diocese of Durham and taskforce co-chair, said he hopes the report will ‘be a watershed moment in the church’s journey towards racial justice’.
He added: ‘We hope our report is more than simply a remedial list of actions, it goes back to this being a potential to outdo the promises of the past, and not simply a list of remedial box ticking.’
Co-chair Rev Sonia Barron, from Lincoln diocese, said current culture in the church ‘tolerates certain kinds of racism, and it’s therefore essential that that culture changes’.
She added: ‘There’s now a genuine sense of urgency I think, and a need for action, and we cannot let this moment pass.’
In a statement, the Archbishop of Canterbury Mr Welby and Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said they would implement five of the recommendations ‘immediately’.
They said: ‘We have seen, time and time again, people being bullied, overlooked, undermined and excluded from the life of the Church, from the family of God. It breaks our hearts and we are truly sorry.’
Members of the taskforce said ‘envelope figures’ for the cost of their proposals have been calculated but declined to share them.
There are just five minority ethnic bishops and nine deans, archdeacons and senior staff. Pictured: Dr John Sentamu, who retired as Archbishop of York last year [File photo]
The taskforce also identified seven areas of work for the Church’s new racial justice commission, including slavery, history and memory, and complaints handling.
The slavery work area includes assessing the cataloguing of monuments and buildings related to the slave trade or paid for through its profits.
The report notes that deciding what to do with these monuments is not easy, as while ‘history should not be hidden, we also do not want to unconditionally celebrate or commemorate people’ linked to the slave trade.
Ven Neil Warwick, Archdeacon of Bristol, said there could be multiple options after auditing: ‘There can be education and explanation, which says that this is part of history, we don’t want to cover it up, we want to explain it, and we want to educate.
‘We want also (to) repent of the past where these things happened.
‘Then I think there could even be spurs for social action in the now. We saw this happen in the past – what might we do about modern slavery now as a community and as a church?’
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