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Proposals aim to end Church of England inaction over racism

FILE – In this Sunday Nov. 11, 2018 file photo, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby makes an address during a National Service to mark the centenary of the Armistice at Westminster Abbey, London. A report published Thursday April 22, 2021 aiming to tackle racism in the Church of England has recommended dozens of proposals to end decades of inaction, including the requirement that at least one ethnic minority candidate be included in shortlists for senior clergy roles. (Paul Grover/Pool photo via AP)

By SYLVIA HUI,LONDON (AP) — A report aiming to tackle racism in the Church of England has recommended dozens of proposals to end decades of inaction, including the requirement that at least one ethnic minority candidate be included in shortlists for senior clergy roles.
The church’s Anti-Racism Taskforce was set up last year after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, told the General Synod there was “no doubt” the Church of England was still “deeply institutionally racist.” The recommendations, published Thursday, included a plan to increase representation of ethnic minority people to at least 15% at all levels of governance by 2030, to reflect the proportion of ethnic minority worshippers. The report also said full-time racial justice officers should be employed in every diocese.
The vast majority of senior staff in the church are currently white British. Just five out of 111 bishops are from ethnic minorities, and the church has only nine deans, archdeacons and senior staff from minorities. The report looked at multiple past reports and recommendations regarding racism made to the church since the 1980s but said “action had fallen short.” “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,” it said.
The taskforce also called for action to address the church’s legacy in the slave trade, including an assessment of monuments and buildings that unconditionally celebrate those linked to slavery. Earlier this week, a BBC report claimed that staff complaining of racism in the church have been paid off to “buy their silence.”
Elizabeth Henry, the church’s former race relations adviser, told the BBC’s Panorama news program that some of those who complained and received compensation had to sign non-disclosure agreements. Henry said she retired last year from her role after feeling frustrated at the “lack of progress with issues of racism.”
Welby said in response this week that confidentiality agreements should not be used to prohibit people from speaking publicly.

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