Thinking Anglicans

No peerage for Sentamu?

Updated Tuesday

There has been a lot of coverage in the press over the weekend and this morning about why the recently retired Archbishop of York has not (yet?) been given a peerage. His three predecessors (Hope, Hapgood, Blanch) were. The three before that (Coggan, Ramsey, Lang) were all translated to Canterbury and in due course received the customary peerage for retiring Archbishops of Canterbury.

The Times Peerage snub for top black bishop John Sentamu

The Guardian John Sentamu peerage snub criticised as ‘institutional prejudice’

Independent John Sentamu: Former archbishop peerage ‘imminent’ after government accused of ‘blatant institutional prejudice’

Telegraph Downing Street insists life peerage for John Sentamu ‘imminent’ amid backlash over delay

Daily Mail ‘Snubbed’ archbishop WILL get his peerage: Downing St delayed honour for John Sentamu to make sure he wasn’t criticised by inquiry into child abuse

Yorkshire Post Accusations mount over peerage snub for former Archbishop of York John Sentamu

York Press Peerage snub for former Archbishop of York
John Sentamu peerage expected ‘imminently’ after criticism of Government

ITV Former Archbishop of York John Sentamu peerage expected ‘imminently’ after criticism of government

Update

Church Times Sentamu will get his peerage, government sources say

Yorkshire Post John Sentamu will have place in House of Lords after backlash over apparent snub

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Malcolm Gray
Malcolm Gray
3 months ago

He should be given a peerage he was a great Archbishop

Jeremy Pemberton
Jeremy Pemberton
3 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Gray

I don’t agree. His record with LGBT+ people is appalling, and abuse survivors have been terribly betrayed by his failure to act..

Froghole
Froghole
3 months ago

I had assumed – perhaps erroneously – that any peerage for John Sentamu *might* have been held up because of certain complaints about his past conduct in one case, which will be well known to TA readers. The House of Lords Appointments Commission now vets prospective peers (https://lordsappointments.independent.gov.uk/vetting), and it has held up several, perhaps indefinitely if complaints are raised. This might seem a more plausible rationale for the delay than some of the other reasons which have been doing the rounds. For instance, the length of the previous list, does not seem a particularly good reason – other lists… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

Daily Mail – ‘Snubbed’ archbishop WILL get his peerage: Downing St delayed honour for John Sentamu to make sure he wasn’t criticised by inquiry into child abuse “Britain’s first black archbishop was held back from being given a life peerage because officials wanted to make sure he was not criticised in an abuse inquiry…It held back approval while the Church of England was being examined by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse..The source said: ‘There was never any suggestion that the archbishop was involved in the scandal or in covering it up…’ Downing Street had apparently always intended to… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

As Adrian Hilton says over at the ‘Cranmer’ site:

“Perhaps, in light of the damning IICSA report, it might be a little unseemly to rush to ennoble any member of the clergy, let alone an archbishop”

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

And in the light of the damning IICSA, Carlile and Briden reports, the ennobling of Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner looks particularly unseemly, with a distinct ‘Billingsgate aroma’ being detected by many.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Richard: Bishop Warner hasn’t been ennobled. He takes his place on the Bench of Bishops (in effect by rotation) as a Lord Spiritual. That does not make him a peer.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

Thank you for that clarification RW – appreciated.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
3 months ago

Strictly Rowland, Lords Spiritual are Peers. The House of Lords comprises two types of peers: Lords Spiritual (the 26 most senior bishops) and Lords Temporal (the rest). They are all peers, with equal rights in the House.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

I relied on this, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Standing Orders of the House of Lords: “Bishops to whom a writ of summons has been issued are not Peers but are Lords of Parliament.”

A clear distinction is now drawn between active bishops as Lords Spiritual and those who have retired and been given a peerage (e.g., Lord Carey, a Baron). Only the latter can properly be described as “ennobled”, I suggest.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

As a commoner, Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner looks pretty ‘ennobled‘ to me.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Richard: I don’t know that it is correct to call a bishop member of the House of Lords a commoner. He is a Lord Spiritual, and I have quoted an authority from the HL itself that he is a “Lord of Parliament”. What is certain is that in debate bishops are never referred to as “my noble friend” or “the noble Lord” as is the customary courtesy for Peers. The full handle in this case would be “the Right Reverend Prelate [the Lord Bishop of Chichester]“, the words in brackets optional and more formal. I use the word ‘ennobled’ to mean being advanced to… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
3 months ago

Many thanks for this! John Selden in his ‘Titles of Honor’ (1614) held that bishops were possessed of their honour ‘so much personall, as feudal, and by reason of their Temporalities, being Baronies…but all Bishops were ever Parliamentarie Barons’ (282-3). In other words, the bishops sat by dint of their lands; however, there is much evidence to the contrary, and it is not impossible that Selden – who was antipathetic to the claims of the episcopate – was making a political point (note these on Selden: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/renaissance-englands-chief-rabbi-john-selden-9780199234301?cc=gb&lang=en& and this remarkable work by an outstanding author: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/john-selden-a-life-in-scholarship-9780199207039?q=toomer&lang=en&cc=gb). We have this record… Read more »

Michael
Michael
3 months ago

customary peerage – that is why the House of Lords is out of proportion to the size of UK population. Customary peerages doled out like sweeties just because someone did a particular job, regardless of whether they attracted national censure – Sentamu, safeguarding. After more than a century, reform remains elusive. The Church of England contributes to the problems by allowing women bishops to ‘jump the queue’ for no other reason than gender parity. Never mind if a more competent male bishop is pushed further down the list. For the foreseeable future there will still be 26 bishops in the… Read more »

Charles Read
Charles Read
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael

I think gender parity is a pretty good -and Christian – reason.

David Lamming
David Lamming
3 months ago

The Daily Mail report “‘Snubbed’ archbishop WILL get his peerage: Downing St delayed honour for John Sentamu to make sure he wasn’t criticised by inquiry into child abuse“, gives an explanation for the delay that is both understandable and sensible, given the criticisms that have been made of +Sentamu’s safeguarding record while Archbishop of York. The Daily Mail report says: “A Government source said the honour for the respected clergyman was delayed by the House of Lords Appointments Commission (Holac), which vets nominations.  It held back approval while the Church of England was being examined by the Independent Inquiry into… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
3 months ago

It would be good if HMG would stick to its guns. No more peerages for retired ecclesiastical primates. No more peerages full stop. Fill the chamber with non-human primates – placental mammals that are handy with their big digits. Watching them pick fleas from each other’s fur would be very relaxing.

Last edited 3 months ago by Stanley Monkhouse
FrDavid H
FrDavid H
3 months ago

Perhaps the CofE would have a more inspirational leadership if the bench of bishops were similarly occupied.

Stanley Monkhouse
3 months ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

I hoped that someone would suggest this..

Anon
Anon
3 months ago

An interesting one. I personally don’t like the idea of automatic peerages for anyone, including retired archbishops, but to make a change in policy for a black archbishop is always going to look bad and be difficult to justify. It would be better to ennoble Sentamu and then state that the practice will come to an end.

I also share others’ concerns around Sentamu and safeguarding and what message this sends.

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
3 months ago

There are several cases of abuse and negligence outstanding which drive a coach and horses through the decision to offer John Sentamu a peerage. I won’t name them, but people here will mostly know the names. This undermines all that is being done about safeguarding and the determination to set the house in order.

Jeremy
Jeremy
3 months ago
Reply to  Toby Forward

“Cases of abuse and negligence.” I don’t know what cases might be outstanding, but I agree that several cases do drive a coach and horses through this decision.
Evidently one receives a peerage from having filled an office, no matter what harm may have befallen others during one’s tenure.

Father David
3 months ago

Baron Blanch of Bishopthorpe
Baron Habgood of Calverdon
Baron Hope of Thornes
Baron Sentamu of ????
Has the Prime Minister also delayed giving speaker Bercow a Life Peerage or is he being “snubbed” for upholding democracy in the Westminster parliament?
While we are on the subject of dishing out Honours – having just retired after 43 years service in the ordained ministry – I wouldn’t mind a Life Peerage either.
Boris Johnson, please note!

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
3 months ago
Reply to  Father David

I have no desire to join the Lords. But since I have no idea how to reverse the CofE ‘s terminal decline, and am superb at uttering pious platitudes, perhaps I could be a Bishop.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
3 months ago
Reply to  Father David

Happy retirement Father David. Dont retire from TA!

Father David
3 months ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

Thank you for your kind words- much appreciated. Now that I no longer have sermons to write or articles for the parish magazine to prepare. Mercifully no more PCCs to Chair – EVER AGAIN – Yippee, I shall endeavour to accede to your suggestion by continuing to contribute (Simon willing) to T A.

Michael O’Sullivan
Michael O’Sullivan
3 months ago

Most Archbishops of York get the peerage because they retire eventually from Canterbury. Of those who retired from York during the last century half (2 out of 4) received peerages.
There seems to be no need for it to be seen as something of a right.
It has sometimes been weighed up against how many other retired bishops are also sitting in the House with life-baronies. At the moment I think we are well served on that score.

Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
3 months ago

We are most certainly not well served by bishops of colour sitting in the Lords. As someone else observed above, perhaps it is time to do away with the practice – but after Sentamu and not before. Because the only story this fuels is the story of racism (whatever Sentamu’s achievements and failings) when it revolves around the man who until recently was the only black diocesan (let alone metropolitan).

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
3 months ago

Archbishop Sentamu might have been vetoed for his comments about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. When asked to comment on the domestic arrangements prior to their marriage he reportedly commented ‘no one buys a cow before first tasting its milk’. Describing our future Queen in bovine terms might not endear him to the Establishment.

Will Richards
Will Richards
2 months ago

The decision to delay awarding Sentamu a peerage pending the outcome of the IICSA recommendations can only have happened with the tacit (if not explicit) support of Lambeth Palace (Luther Pendragon earning its crust once more?). This makes Justin Welby’s comment during the Internal Market Bill debate in the Lords’ all the more astonishing, when he regretted the absence of Sentamu from the House. Astonishing because (a) on the face of it, it appears remarkably generous given that any kind of functioning working relationship between the two men collapsed early on in Welby’s Archiepiscopate; but also because (b) if not… Read more »

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