Welby Doubles Down on Rustat Judgment
Acknowledges Law Was Followed
Archbishop Justin Welby doubled down in regard to the Rustat memorial in the Chapel at Jesus College, Cambridge but did acknowledge that the law was followed by the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Ely in its ruling.
In a public statement issued on 12 April, Welby said:
“Places of Christian worship should be sacred spaces where everyone can encounter the unconditional love of God, and to know and worship him in Jesus Christ. I have questioned previously why it is so difficult to move the Rustat memorial in Jesus College chapel – which causes such pain and distress to people whose ancestors were sold into slavery – to a place where it can be understood in context. I stand by those comments.
The Archbishop seems to have been unaware or unwilling to follow the lengthy legal process to add or remove any memorial from a Church of England building.
“Memorials to slave-traders do not belong in places of worship. Jesus College wished to move the memorial to a place where it could be studied as an important historical memorial, without disrupting worship. I have no doubt that the law was followed in this instance, and that the Church of England’s contested heritage guidance was used. But if we are content with a situation where people of colour are excluded from places of worship because of the pain caused by such memorials, then clearly we have a lot further to go in our journey towards racial justice.”
The Archbishop had been vigorously criticised in many corners for making prejudicial statements about the case before the General Synod last February. The trial concluded on 6 February and the Archbishop’s statements were made on the 8th while it was still before the judge for the verdict.