Multiculturalism has left the English embarrassed about celebrating their true national identity, the outgoing Bishop for Birmingham said yesterday.
Dr John Sentamu, who became the country's first black Archbishop when he was appointed Archbishop of York, called on the English to mark St George's Day properly on April 23, warning that the failure of England to rediscover its culture would lead only to greater political extremism.
Ugandan-born Dr Sentamu said he would not be where he was today were it not for the British Empire and the English teachers and missionaries who worked in Africa.
"I speak as a foreigner really," he said. "The English are somehow embarrassed about some of the good things they have done.
"They have done some terrible things but not all the Empire was a bad idea.
"Because the Empire is gone, there is almost a sense in which there is not a big idea that drives this nation."
He said multiculturalism had seemed to wrongly imply "let other cultures be allowed to express themselves but do not let the majority culture at all tell us its glories, its struggles, its joys, its pains".
Dr Sentamu, who fled Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in 1974, praised English culture, saying it had given the world Parliamentary democracy.
"It is a place that has allowed reason to be at the heart of all these things, that has allowed genuine dissent without resorting to violence, that has allowed the fantastic music that we experience in our culture," he said.
Dr Sentamu is due to be enthroned next week at York Minster as the second most powerful clergyman in the Church of England after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
His remarks come after it was revealed that he had received racist and abusive letters after the news of his appointment.
Last week Birmingham MP Gisela Stuart warned that the rise of Englishness was a threat to democracy.
Ms Stuart (Lab Edgbaston) said she was worried by the number of constituents who now claimed to be English rather than British.
Ms Stuart also warned that Britain's democratic institutions were being undermined by the European Union.