Archbishop of Canterbury: Church statues to be reviewed ‘very carefully’

Jun 27, 2020 by

from BBC News:

The Church of England is to “very carefully” review statues at major places of worship to see “if they all should be there”, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby said monuments at Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey would be included.

“Some will have to come down, some names will have to change,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.

The acts of those memorialised could be forgiven “only if there’s justice,” he said.

Forgiveness can only be granted “if we change the way we behave now and say this was then and we learn from that and change how we are going to be in the future,” he said.

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Read also: Nelson Mandela’s widow says statues are part of our history and we must learn from them after Archbishop of Canterbury warns some ‘will have to come down’ as Church thinks again about portraying Jesus as white by Jack Elsom, Mailonline

Daily Mail editorial: History lessons from an icon of the struggle

THERE can be few people alive with a more intimate first-hand knowledge of Africa’s post-colonial journey than Graca Machel. In the 1970s, she was part of Frelimo, the guerrilla group fighting against Portuguese rule in Mozambique.

Her first husband Samora Machel became president of the country after independence, before being killed in a mysterious plane crash suspected to have been caused by agents of apartheid South Africa.

And her second husband Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his part in the liberation battle, before becoming the first president of South Africa’s democratic ‘rainbow nation’.

How interesting, then, that this heroine of the struggle should be so firmly opposed to the toppling of statues of Cecil Rhodes and other prominent white colonists.

Her logic is simple – and should be obvious. To understand the fight for freedom in Africa and why it was so important, you must first understand the history of how it came about. That is what these statues symbolise.

‘You are going to tell generations to come: This is how it started and this is how it should never be,’ she said. Compare her admirably measured approach with that of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who yesterday suggested statues in Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey may have to be removed for fear some people might find them offensive. Even representations of Jesus are under a cloud for being too white.

Mr Welby said: ‘The way the Western church portrays Jesus needs to be thought about again.’

Has Mr Welby nothing better to do than drive the Church of England down historical dead ends? He could start by showing some urgency in fully reopening the Anglican churches shut down because of Covid.

Then there’s the report commissioned last year by then foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt describing the slaughter and persecution of Christians in the Middle East and parts of Africa as ‘near genocide’.

Wouldn’t the Archbishop be better confronting the horrors and injustices of today, rather than obsessing over those that happened centuries ago?

Of course, we shouldn’t forget the grievous mistakes and injustices of the past. But they happened in the context of their time. Mr Welby, of all people, should be willing to preach forgiveness.


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