The Archbishop of Canterbury has intervened for the second time in a dispute over a rival monument at the Chapel of Jesus College in Cambridge, insisting that “the monuments of slave traders do not belong to places of worship”.
Commenting on the legal battle over a plaque commemorating Tobias Rustat, an investor in 17th century slavery, Justin Welby gave unequivocal support to those who wanted to remove it and suggested that the Church of England still had a long way to go. Towards racial justice.
The archbishop’s intervention came when Jesus College filed a petition with the local diocese requesting that the memorial be removed from the chapel because its presence had a negative impact on the church’s mission and ministry.
The college said the plaque would be moved to another location in the college where it would not interfere with worship, but could be studied as an important historical monument. Last month, however, a church court rejected the appeal, ruling that opposition to the monument was based on “a false statement” about the scale of the financial rewards obtained from Rustat slavery and ordered that the memorial should remain in the chapel.
Welby said he had no doubt the law had been followed and the Church of England’s competing heritage guidelines had been used, adding: “But if we are satisfied with the situation where people of color are excluded from places of worship , Then obviously we have a lot more to go in our journey towards racial justice. “
This is not the first time that an archbishop has been forced to intervene in a dispute. Earlier this year, in a speech to General Sind, he questioned why the Rustat monument was proving so difficult to transfer when it was a source of trouble for people whose ancestors had been sold into slavery. “I stand by those comments,” he said Tuesday.
“The Church of England has a dark history where slavery is a concern we have to deal with. Racial injustice inside and outside the church is a problem that still exists today,” Welby said.
“Since the end of 2019, the Church Commissioners, of whom I am the Chairman and a member of the Board of Archbishops of York, have begun the process of unraveling and tackling this dark past, with the goal of restoring, repairing and promoting it. Good future for all of us. They will report their results within the next month. “
Earlier this week, Jesus College dismissed an appeal against the court’s decision. The college’s master, Sonita Allen, the first black master at an Oxbridge college, however, warned that the Church of England’s approach to solving problems of racial injustice and a rival tradition was inadequate and unsuitable for purpose.