patient http://davidyoho.com/wp-content/plugins/woocommerce/includes/wc-attribute-functions.php geneva; font-size: small;”>A former aide, buy who is about to become the Church’s director of communications, said there was a “stark contrast” between the way Dr Sentamu was portrayed and the treatment of other bishops.
“At its best, the besmirching of John Sentamu has revealed that strand of snobbery which views outsiders as lacking class, diplomacy or civility — in other words ‘not one of us,’” said the Rev Arun Arora.
“At worst, it has elicited the naked racism which still bubbles under the surface in our society, and which is exposed when a black man is in line to break the chains of history.”
His allegation of an “anonymous whispering” campaign against Dr Sentamu has the potential to be hugely damaging to the Church.
It recalls the last time that the Church sought a new Archbishop of Canterbury, in 2002, when the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, then Bishop of Rochester, was described as a “Paki Papist” by an unidentified cleric.
Dr Sentamu has spoken in the past about his experience of racism but stressed that any abuse came from outside the Church.
However, two bishops who spoke to The Sunday Telegraph on condition of anonymity drew, unprompted, on Dr Sentamu’s African birth in their criticism — one likening his temperament to that of an “African chief”.
He said: “I think Sentamu is clearly going to be a very strong front-runner, although I think there are also the people who are not quite sure that he is suitable in terms of the way he behaves, because he is quite tribal and the African chief thing comes through.
“My preferred candidate would be [the Bishop of] Norwich, who is very level-headed, sensible and would actually do the job well and has a lot more kind of stability. You wouldn’t know where you were with Sentamu, whereas you would with Norwich.”
The second bishop, who is retired, said Dr Sentamu had some “outrageous moments” which had been “balanced” out by Dr Rowan Williams.
He added: “There is something in Sentamu which retains his African views and approach, which can be at one time an asset and another time can be a problem.”
The retired bishop said Dr Sentamu’s African background was apparent in “his understanding around issues of human sexuality”. The Archbishop has opposed Government proposals for same-sex marriage.
Last night, The Sunday Telegraph gave both bishops the opportunity to put their comments on the record but they declined. Both denied their comments were racist.
Their words will be seized on by supporters of Dr Sentamu, who fear a whispering campaign against him.
He was immediate favourite to become Archbishop of Canterbury when Dr Williams announced his departure last month, but is now in third place with bookmakers, behind the Bishop of Coventry and the Bishop of Norwich.
The comments by Dr Sentamu’s former aide were published on Mr Arora’s blog on March 23, before his new appointment was announced.
Dr Sentamu, a former barrister and judge, has campaigned against racism and advised the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry.
In 2000, he criticised police after an officer refused to justify stopping him and searching his car near St Paul’s Cathedral.
Earlier this year, he received racist emails after speaking out against plans to legalise same-sex marriage.