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Archbishop says statues will have to be reviewed

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Archbishop Justin Welby

The Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested that some statues in the Church of England’s places of worship “will have to come down” following global unrest over racism.

Justin Welby was speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme when he said that the Church was looking into statues in its buildings and how to put them “in context”.

“Some names will have to change,” he said, although he added that it was not his decision. 

Asked whether forgiveness should be extended to people remembered in the form of statues as an alternative to tearing them down, he said: “I mean, the church, goodness me, you know, you just go around Canterbury Cathedral, there’s monuments everywhere, or Westminster Abbey, and we’re looking at all that, and some will have to come down.

“But yes, there can be forgiveness, I hope and pray as we come together, but only if there’s justice.

“If we change the way we behave now, and say this was then and we learned from that, and change how we’re going to be in the future, internationally, as well.”

Black Lives Matter protests have been held across the UK following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. 

The protests have forced local councils and institutions to review statues and monuments after some were toppled, like that of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston. 

Following the outbreak of protests in the UK, the Church of England apologised for its ties to slavery, saying they were a “source of shame”. 

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