The Church of England on Tuesday apologized for the past links with slavery of a financial organization linked to it, today engaged in a vast process of compensation for victim communities.
“I am deeply sorry,” reacted the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Church. "The time has come to take action in response to this shameful past."
This report lays bare the links of the Church Commissioners' predecessor fund with transatlantic chattel slavery. I am deeply sorry for these links.
Only by addressing our past transparently can we face our present with integrity. https://t.co/KlyqyLY66V
- Archbishop of Canterbury (@JustinWelby) -
The report released on Tuesday follows revelations in June 2022 that “the endowment of Church Commissioners had historical ties” to the transatlantic slave trade.
The body of Church of England Commissioners was established in 1948, in part with a donation from a fund dating back to Queen Anne in 1704 to help poorer members of the clergy.
However, the report reveals that this fund had invested “significant amounts” in the South Sea Company, which traded in African slaves. He had also received donations from people involved in the slave trade and the plantation economy.
"The Church Commissioners are deeply sorry for their predecessors' ties to the transatlantic slave trade," the organization said in a statement.
The organization has promised a fund of 100 million pounds (113,1 million euros) for the next nine years for "a better and fairer future for all".
This money will go in particular to “communities that have been affected by slavery”. Part of the funds will be intended to deepen research on the links between the Church and slavery.
Deputy Chairman of Church Commissioners, Bishop of Manchester David Walker, said the body now hopes to create a "lasting positive legacy, which will serve communities affected by slavery".
The Church Commissioners manage a £10,1 billion (€11,4 billion) investment fund to support church and clergy activities.
“Nothing we do, hundreds of years later, will restore the lives of enslaved people,” the Commissioners wrote in the introduction to their report.
"But we can and we will acknowledge the horror and shame of the Church's role in the slave trade, and through responses we will seek to begin to address the injustices committed."
The Church of England has already apologized for its past links to slavery, as Britain faces the legacy of its colonial past.
In 2020, the Church called it a “shame” that some of its members had “actively profited” from slavery.
The Editorial Board (with AFP)