Church of England urged to expand fund to address slavery links


  • World
  • Monday, 04 Mar 2024

FILE PHOTO: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby delivers the Presidential Address at the opening session of the Church of England General Synod, in London, Britain, February 23, 2024. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) -The Church of England's 100 million pound fund to address its historical links to the slave trade is too small and should be expanded at least tenfold, an oversight group led by descendants of enslaved Africans said on Monday.

The group, appointed by the church to provide advice on how to address its historic links to slavery, said in a report on Monday that the fund was not enough when compared with the scale of the racial disadvantage caused by its past investments.

It said the Church Commissioners, who manage the Church's 10 billion pound ($12.7 billion) investment arm today, in partnership with others, should invest more.

In response, the head of the Church Commissioners said that, while they shared an "ambition" of expanding the fund to 1 billion pounds, 100 million pounds was the "appropriate financial commitment" at this stage.

"Our hope is that others will join us, and invest alongside us ... and we hope that the fund will grow, hopefully, to a billion and more, and create a lasting positive legacy," Chief Executive Gareth Mostyn said at a press conference.

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion of about 85 million Christians, said in a statement accompanying the report that the oversight group's work was the beginning of "a multi-generational response to the appalling evil of transatlantic chattel enslavement".

Bishop of Croydon Rosemarie Mallett, chair of the oversight group and a descendant of slavery herself, said implementing the report's recommendations would demonstrate commitment to the process of healing and justice.

"No amount of money can fully atone for or fully redress the centuries long impact of African chattel enslavement, the effects of which are still felt around the world," she added.

The body was set up in July by the Church Commissioners after revelations that its predecessor, called Queen Anne's Bounty, invested significant amounts in the slave-trading South Sea Company in the 18th century.

The Church has said it wanted to address "shameful" wrongs.

Major British institutions, from the royal family to the Bank of England, have been linked to the transatlantic slave trade, but the country's leaders have resisted calls for reparations.

The oversight group said the fund could be used to invest in Black-led businesses focusing on education, economic empowerment and health outcomes, as well as to provide grants to address issues in communities impacted by the legacies of slavery.

It also urged that the timeline of the investments be sped up. No money has yet been disbursed. ($1 = 0.7905 pounds)

(Reporting by Muvija M; Additional reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Alison Williams and Alex Richardson)

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