John Sentamu is to be installed as Archbishop of York next month in York Minster, one of the country's most famous cathedrals. He will rank second only to the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in the Anglican hierarchy.
In an interview with the BBC, the Ugandan-born archbishop called Britain "the most tolerant and welcoming" of the places he has lived.
"Therefore, this tiny minority is not going to stop me from telling people that if we become a society of friends and a society that will discover the wonderful love of God and Christ, we have a chance of leading the nation in prayer," Sentamu said.
But he also said the letters make him angry, especially those that are smeared with excrement.
Sentamu has close ties to Prime Minister Tony Blair, and was a member of a commission that found "institutional racism" in the Metropolitan Police after investigating the death of a young black man.