Pastoral Care – from the Archbishop of York

Archbishop of York offers Andrew Marr prayers for miracle healing

The Archbishop of York offered the BBC presenter Andrew Marr a striking gesture of solidarity as he returned to work after suffering a stroke – taking his hand live on television and offering to pray for healing.

By , Religious Affairs Editor – The Telegraph – 11:04AM BST 01 Sep 2013

Dr John Sentamu, who is himself recovering from life-saving cancer surgery, dispensed with formality during an interview about politics to tell the broadcaster of his faith in miracles.

The Archbishop has been a regular on the Sunday morning programme in the past. It was during an appearance on the programme six years ago that the Archbishop publicly cut up his dog collar in a symbol of protest against the regime of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

It was among a series of dramatic gestures which the Archbishop has used to highlight issues close to his heart.

In 2006 he had his head shaved at the altar of York Minster and slept rough in a tent in a personal plea for peace in the Middle East following the Israeli strikes against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

But earlier this year the 64-year-old temporarily stepped back from his public ministry after being treated for prostate cancer.

The Archbishop, who still does not wear a clerical collar, spoke widely on issues ranging from the conflict in Syria, and the elections in Zimbabwe to gay marriage and the living wage closer to home.

As the interview concluded Mr Marr turned to Dr Sentamu and said: “Archbishop, thank you very much indeed for that – you have also been ill so it is wonderful to see you back as well.”

Dr Sentamu replied: “I would say the same and I just want to tell you what happened to me when I had this terrible illness, friends prayed for me and friends encouraged me and I just hope the same happened to you.”

Then pointing to Mr Marr’s left arm, he quoted a passage in the Bible which recounts the story of Jesus healing a man with a disabled hand.

Mr Marr reached his arm across to the Archbishop who clasped his hand.

He said: “In Luke Chapter Six, there is a man with a hand like yours, Jesus raises it up and I’m going work hard, I’m going to work …. there that your hand begins to work.

“Nice to see you back, nice to see you.”

Mr Marr laughed and thanked him adding: “Needs some work on it, needs some work on it.”

During the interview the Archbishop, who was on retreat last week, made his first comments on the situation in Syria and the prospect of western military strikes.

He echoed concerns expressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, in the run-up to the vote in Parliament last week that bombing Syria might do more harm than good.

Archbishop Sentamu acknowledged that in some cases countries had a responsibility to step in but added that the UN inspectors had not yet given a “mandate” by confirming that the Assad regime was behind the chemical strike in Syria.

He said: “Until we know, what type of chemical weapon was used, how many people died and who really gave the authority to go ahead with it, to just suddenly bomb out of anger, out of irritation … I don’t think that is always justified.”

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This is what the world looks for in a Church Leader. The Archbishop of York’s outreach to TV Presenter Andrew Marr, in the above article from The Telegraph, is proof positive of the Archbishop’s faith in God’s power to heal.

This is at the heart of the ministry of Christ’s Church, and there ought be more of it expressed in the public sphere. The Church’s record of ‘reaching out’  has, unfortunately, suffered from its bruising treatment of issues of gender and sexuality; so that this example of purely pastoral care from a bishop of the Church is all the more welcome.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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