The Archbishop of York


The media love their caricatures, demonizing some and beatifying others (only temporarily of course). I have been somewhat amused in recent days at their portrayal of Dr David Hope. Lord Hope is now retired from the post of Archbishop of York, preferring the rôle of a simple parish priest in Ilkley. This step has commended him to a very wide public, and I think rightly so. I have had to smile however at the media portrayal of a gentle and benign spirit. It has been an immense pleasure to work with David Hope: he ordained me priest and appointed me to my first two posts in the church when he was Bishop of Wakefield. He is gentle sometimes; he is holy very often indeed, but benign he is not!

I heard a story about him recently that not only made me laugh out loud but will be illuminating to all who are tempted to believe the caricatures: David Hope is an anglo-catholic of the highest order, and in 1982 he was appointed Vicar of All Saints’, Margaret Street, in London, one of the great centres of catholic worship in the Church of England. Presiding at his first service he joined in with the hymn being sung. This did not meet with the approval of the rather precious young man who was the thurifer - the server looking after the incense. The thurifer minced over and petulantly whispered to the new vicar: ‘Father, in this sanctuary we do not sing the hymns’ (you would be amazed how often we incumbents receive such advice). The attempt to correct him was too much for David Hope, who, you must remember is also a Yorkshireman. ‘It’s my bloody sanctuary and I’ll sing if I want to. Now get back to your corner and set fire to your handbag’*. Dr Hope was a bishop within three years, and a jolly good one too.

Pray for those who must now seek a suitable successor to the Archbishop at York. Pray that they will be given the foresight to see beyond the caricatures of any candidate they consider. The post needs someone godly, wise and strong. They have had such a man in David Hope. Oh, and while you’re about it, perhaps you would spare a prayer for the parishioners of St Margaret’s, Ilkley. They have a new Vicar you know.

Jeff Cuttell


 * The incident is recorded in Rob Marshall’s biography Hope: the Archbishop, published by Continuum International at £16.99.


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