CofE has become 'tribal and divided', says Archbishop of York

(Photo: Unsplash/Yulia Chinato)

The new Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, has spoken of his desire to see the Church of England become more united.

In his first public address following his confirmation as Archbishop on Thursday, Cottrell said the Church had become "tribal and divided" and needed to "learn again how to love one another, love the world and love God". 

Addressing the Church's General Synod, meeting online today, he said the Church also needed to "learn afresh" how to share the Gospel with the world as it experiences "turbulent times" in the midst of the pandemic. 

He went on today to say that he "hugely" missed the Church's buildings and and was grieved at not being able to say a proper goodbye to the Diocese of Chelmsford, where he was bishop before become Archbishop of York. 

"And I cry out for the pain of all those socially distanced funerals, the thousands of people who have died alone, the baptisms, weddings and ordinations that have had to be postponed; the economic misery which is around the corner and the devastating impact of this pandemic upon the whole life of our world," he continued. 

"But neither can I deny, that it has forced me to encounter things about myself which I had allowed to remain hidden behind the security of the things I have had to relinquish."

While the vision of the Church remains "unchanging", he said he was determined to "draw in and listen" to the voices of younger Christians and "those whose voices are not usually so easily heard in Church". 

He said he was already having "wideranging" discussions as part of a team he is heading up that is tasked with discerning a vision and strategy for the Church of England for the next decade. 

"So, dear General Synod, as we enter some turbulent times and some challenging decisions, we are just going to have to learn again how to love one another, love the world and love God so that, both individually and collectively, we can be the place where God is revealed," he said.

"We've not always been very good at this. We have allowed ourselves to become tribal and divided.

"We have allowed secondary things to obscure our belonging to each other. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ in us; and through us may we learn afresh how to share the gospel in the world."

His address can be heard in full below: