THE Archbishop of Canterbury described the England football team as “incredible” in the World Cup tournament, despite its loss to Croatia on Wednesday evening.
Croatia beat England, 2-1, in the semi-finals. On Twitter, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, said that he was “gutted” by the result: “Gareth Southgate & TEAM ENGLAND we salute you! Totally gutted! Was in car on way to London so will now watch! With You! Take a deserved rest! Please build for the future! Love and Prayers.”
On Thursday morning, Dr Sentamu was more reflective. He tweeted: “Dearly Beloved England — Thank U very much for lifting our spirits & daring us to hope & believe in U to make the Impossible Possible! Have prayed 4U daily & tweeted during all your matches. As U Rest&Prepare 4the Playoff KNOW:W’RE WITH YOU.”
Archbishop Welby tweeted immediately after the game: “Dear England — you have been incredible throughout this tournament. Praying for you all — rest up for the playoff and know you’ve made the whole country proud!”
The Bishop of Kensington, Dr Graham Tomlin, was confident for the future. He tweeted: “We’ll win it in Qatar.” The next World Cup is in Qatar in 2022. “Gutting,” he said. “But somehow it feels a more familiar feeling watching England or Bristol City.”
Having returned from the General Synod, where the order of business was altered to enable Synod members to watch an England match screened in the central hall, the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, watched the semi-final in a church in his diocese, and the Bishop of Bradford, Dr Toby Howarth, saw it televised in a Croatian bar. He said that he felt “like a minority of one”.
The Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North, tweeted the words of a madrigal to explain his emotions at the loss: “Weep O mine eyes and cease not.”
The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, was more positive: “Very proud of #England — young team, big hearts, huge credit.” He added that England’s manager, Gareth Southgate, was “utter class”.
Southgate was also praised on Twitter by the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Christine Hardman: “Loving seeing Gareth Southgate raise his players to their feet.”
In the days leading up to the semi-final, the choir of Chelmsford Cathedral were filmed singing “Three Lions”, the unofficial anthem of English football.
Comment: The recent story of England’s national football team has lessons for England’s national Church, says Philip Lockley