Tribute to distinguished scientist and philosopher as ex-Archbishop of York dies

The Archbishop of York has led tributes to his predecessor John Habgood, who has died aged 91.

Lord Habgood, who was Archbishop of York and second in the Church of England hierarchy for 12 years until 1995, was the most outspoken and effective ecclesiastical figure of his age.

Dr John Sentamu said: “His towering presence, physical, intellectual, and spiritual, was a gift to all who knew him.

“My prayers are with his family at this time. May he rest in peace, and rise in glory.”

Reverend Dr John Habgood death
The former Archbishop of York John Habgood has died aged 91 (Neil Munns/PA)

He went on: “As a hugely distinguished scientist, theologian and philosopher, Archbishop Habgood’s faith in Christ gave him a particular perspective and a persuasive witness both to church and nation for his time. His many books simplified big and complex questions, revealing an incredibly perceptive intellect.

“I’m very glad to have confirmed his grandchildren and dedicated a room in his honour at Bishopthorpe Palace.”

Lord Habgood was a key exponent of Christian faith and morals in a secular age.

With his scientific background, he regarded many of the stories on which Christian doctrines are based as being true allegorically rather than literally.

As a scientist he had difficulty in asserting the literal truth of supernatural events said to have occurred long ago, in times even more credulous than today.

And his sensitive handling of the situation created by the ordination of women – in which he believed – won him the admiration even of former critics.

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