LONDON – The British government Friday named Ugandan-born cleric the Right Rev. John Sentamu (search) as the new archbishop of York, the Church of England's second most senior position.
Sentamu, now bishop of Birmingham (search), will succeed the Most Rev. David Hope as the archbishop of York, Prime Minister Tony Blair's office announced. Hope resigned last year to return to being a parish priest.
Sentamu, 55, becomes the first black cleric to hold such a senior position in the history of the Church of England, church spokesman Jonathan Jennings said. The church was established nearly 500 years ago when King Henry VIII (search) broke with the Vatican.
Sentamu grew up in Uganda and studied law at the eastern African nation's Makerere University before working as a lawyer. He criticized the human rights violations of dictator Idi Amin's regime and in 1974 left for Britain, where he studied theology at Cambridge University. Sentamu was ordained in 1979. He became bishop of Birmingham, Britain's second- biggest city, in 2002.
The most senior cleric in the Church of England is the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who is also the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Diocesan bishops within the Church of England are appointed by the British monarch on the advice of the prime minister.