A SENIOR Anglican priest suggested yesterday that the Church of England was institutionally racist and did not respect its ethnic minority membership.
Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, chaplain to Commons Speaker John Bercow, said ethnic minorities were “visible yet invisible” within the church.
Ms Hudson-Wilkin, who is originally from Jamaica, made the comments after Reverend Prebendary Dr Woyin Karowei Dorgu, born and raised in Nigeria, was appointed the next Bishop of Woolwich.
He will be the first black man to be made a bishop in 20 years.
“We are visible yet invisible,” Ms Hudson-Wilkin told the BBC. “I do not believe that the church recognises that we are there.
“With my hand on my heart, I do not believe that the church respects and embraces its minority ethnic membership.”
Asked if she was describing the elements of institutional racism, Ms Hudson-Wilkin said: “I suspect that I am.
“It’s really a heavy burden to say that because that is the church that I belong to, that is the church I love, but if someone else can genuinely give me another rationale as to why we are not there in senior leadership roles within the church, then I’m prepared to consider it.”
The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev James Langstaff acknowledged on BBC Radio 4 Today that the church had a problem.
“I think it is absolutely clear because the evidence is there in the lack of senior leaders,” he said.
There is work under way to address “unconscious bias” but “some of it may well be conscious as well, or certainly has been at times,” he told the programme.
He said: “I am chairing a working group for the Church of England at the moment to look precisely at these issues.”