In a time when parishes are having trouble paying their bills, the Archbishop of Canterbury has defended the creation of a £100 million fund to “make up for the wrongs of slavery in the past.”
The Church Commissioners, which handle more than £10 billion in assets for the Church of England, announced the pledge on Tuesday following last year’s publication of a report that found that much of the institution’s wealth originates from the slave trade.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, acknowledged that the £100 million cash injection comes amid mounting concern over parishes’ “stretched” finances.
However, he insisted that “it is now time to take action to address our shameful past.”
Following the announcement of the new fund, parishioners and clergy criticised the Archbishop for “suddenly” having “around £100 million behind the back of the sofa” when vicars are losing their jobs and parishes are being merged.
But the Church Commissioners said that its new fund is very important for fixing the “shameful and horrible sin” of using and owning people’s lives for money.
It added that the money would pay for a programme of investment, research, and engagement.
Suddenly, the church has money ‘As an immediate action, Lambeth Palace – the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury – is hosting an exhibition with material from its archives that has links to the slave trade.
This includes the original Queen Anne’s Bounty ledgers, as well as a letter from an unknown enslaved man written to the Church of England in 1723 begging for freedom.
There is no recorded response to the letter from the Church.
Furthermore, Christians now account for less than half of England and Wales’ population for the first time in census history, according to government data published in November.