The Church of England's first African archbishop has received letters containing racist abuse since being appointed to the position, he said in an interview broadcast Friday. Archbishop of York John Sentamu, who is due to be enthroned at York Minster next month, said some of the letters also contained human excrement.
"I don't want to have those sorts of things and I say 'Why do people do this?"' he told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. "I don't know who they are. They don't tell you."
"In the end, when I get these letters, I actually pray for the people who have written them," he added.
Sentamu, 56, was born in Uganda but moved to Britain after clashing with the regime of former dictator Idi Amin. In 2002 he became bishop of Birmingham, Britain's second-largest city, and in June the government named him as the first African archbishop in the nearly 500-year history of the Church of England. He is also the first black person to hold such a post.
As Archbishop of York, Sentamu will be the church's second-highest cleric after Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who leads the worldwide Anglican communion.
Sentamu said he had also received many letters of support from people in York, urging him not to be disheartened by the racist abuse.
"This country, of all the places I have been to, is the most tolerant and welcoming of all places," he told the BBC. "Therefore, this tiny minority is not going to stop me from telling people that if we become a society of friends and a society that will discover the wonderful love of God and Christ, we have a chance of leading the nation in prayer," reports the AP.