I back Boris Johnson’s vision, declares new Archbishop of York… and he thinks the Church should give land to travellers, too
- The Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell said that Mr Johnson ‘deserves our support’
- Essex-born Bishop Cottrell added he backed Tory plan for ‘northern powerhouse’
- Also said that the contribution of the Church can ‘help lift it above party politics’
The Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell (pictured) said that Mr Johnson’s ambition to unify the country ‘deserves our support’
The new leader of the Church of England in the North yesterday declared his backing for Boris Johnson’s One Nation vision.
The Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell, who is to take over as Archbishop of York next summer, said that Mr Johnson’s ambition to unify the country ‘deserves our support’.
Essex-born Bishop Cottrell, a 61-year-old father of three, added that he backed the Tory plan for a ‘northern powerhouse’, adding that the contribution of the Church can ‘help lift it above party politics’.
But his appointment yesterday as number two in the hierarchy of the CofE looks unlikely to lead to a long-term truce with the Johnson Government.
The bishop, currently in charge of the Chelmsford diocese, is a critic of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, and earlier this year he condemned a Westminster Abbey service honouring Royal Navy submarine crews because he said it celebrated nuclear arms.
The new appointment is a firm anti-racism campaigner who has called the Church of England ‘borderline racist’, and who has supported a demand for churches to hand over land for traveller camps.
On recruiting ethnic minorities to senior roles, he said yesterday: ‘When I do hang up my mitre I hope the church will look different, it will look more diverse but our record isn’t good and, dare I say it, we bishops must take responsibility.’
But his appointment yesterday as number two in the hierarchy of the CofE looks unlikely to lead to a long-term truce with the Johnson Government
Restoring faith in the church in the wake of historic child abuse claims would be his ‘top priority’, he said, adding: ‘We need to ensure that the church is a safe place for everyone.’
The choice of Bishop Cottrell, who will succeed 70-year-old Archbishop John Sentamu, runs against the recent grain of the Church of England, which has picked a string of women for senior roles.
Among them was the Right Reverend Sarah Mullally, who was appointed two years ago to be Bishop of London, the Church’s third-ranking post. His appointment means that the elevation of the first woman to archbishop rank is likely to be delayed by a decade.
While the York post is filled, the other English archbishopric, Canterbury, is unlikely to go to a woman when the Most Reverend Justin Welby retires. Some parts of the worldwide Anglican communion, which is headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, would find it hard to accept a female leader.
While the York post is filled, the other English archbishopric, Canterbury, is unlikely to go to a woman when the Most Reverend Justin Welby (pictured) retires
The Bishop of Chelmsford is a plain-spoken preacher who became a Christian at 16 after watching a TV mini-series about Jesus.
Among his most notable claims was the assertion that Christ’s humility means he would be more likely to be seen shopping in Aldi rather than Marks and Spencer.
On the Conservative election triumph, he said: ‘It is very early days. Boris Johnson has spoken about wanting to lead one nation. That deserves our support.’
Bishop Cottrell also said he would support plans for the northern powerhouse, first promoted by former Tory Chancellor George Osborne, saying that ‘when the Church adds its voice to these causes it helps lift them above party politics’.
Bishop Cottrell was born in Leigh-on-Sea and educated at a secondary modern school and Central London Polytechnic. He said yesterday that he became a Christian after watching Franco Zeffirelli’s 1970s TV series Jesus of Nazareth.
Three years ago he declared that the renewal of the Trident missile system was ‘an affront to God’.
Bishop Cottrell is also regarded as a supporter of the C of E’s gay lobby and declared yesterday: ‘There is absolutely no place for homophobia in the Church’.