In what he has called a source of shame, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has openly apologized for the funding of slavery by the Church of England.
The Archbishop confirmed that the Church of England was directly involved in slavery as early as the 1730s. From that time, the Church had set up a Church fund that was targeted at funding the transportation of enslaved people from Africa to the United Kingdom.
After the confirmation of the shameful involvement of the Church, the Archbishop tendered an open apology. This is coming days after reports emerged that the Church of England’s investment fund had links to the transatlantic slave trade.
According to reports, the Queen Anne’s Bounty was a fund to help support poor clergy in the 18th Century - but large parts of its investments supported transporting enslaved people from West Africa to the American colonies in horrific conditions.
The Church not only took part in the funding of the slave trade, but they also received huge Returns on Investment. The funds now make up a part of the Church’s $12.3bn (£10bn) investment fund.
The report further revealed that through a snapshot from the late 1730s, for example, research commissioned by the Church found it was investing the equivalent of more than $530m in today’s terms in the South Sea Company.
That was responsible for shipping tens of thousands of enslaved people from Africa to the Spanish colonies. It is estimated around 15% of them died on the torturous journey.
In his response to the revelation, the Archbishop said the Church would set up a committee to decide what its response should be.
The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is on record to be the first clergy of Jewish origin to assume the revered position.
Justin Welby’s grandfather fled from Germany; his father bootlegged alcohol, knew JFK, and was engaged to Vanessa Redgrave; he worked in the oil industry before feeling a call to God after his daughter’s death in a car crash.
Critics have applauded the move by the Archbishop of Canterbury to openly acknowledge the involvement of the Church in the transatlantic slave trade.
However, some are of the opinion that the Church should match words with actions by repatriating a substantial part of the Church’s $12.3bn investment fund to Africa.
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