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Church of England urged to build a $1.3 billion fund to tackle its legacy of slavery

By Hanna Ziady, CNN

London (CNN) — The Church of England has welcomed a report that calls for it to spearhead the establishment of a £1 billion ($1.3 billion) fund to address its historical ties to slavery.

The document, released Monday, recommends that the church’s initial commitment of £100 million ($127 million) to the “Fund for Healing, Repair and Justice” should form the nucleus of a bigger initiative that would target assets of over £1 billion.

The Church Commissioners group, which manages the church’s £10.3 billion ($13 billion) investments, has accepted the report “in full,” the church said in a statement.

The report was drafted by an independent “oversight group” comprising mainly Black experts from various fields, recruited to advise the Commissioners on the new fund.

Established last year following revelations that the Church had profited from the South Sea Company, which was involved in the transatlantic slave trade, the fund will invest in Black-led businesses focusing on education, economic empowerment, health and improving Black people’s access to land and food.

The report also calls for the Church Commissioners to build up the value of the fund by bringing in co-investors while also increasing its own allocation.

The Church of England is the established church in the United Kingdom. Its most senior leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, is also the spiritual head of the worldwide Anglican church.

“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 today,” said Barbados-born Bishop Rosemarie Mallett, who led the oversight group.

“But implementing the recommendations will show the commitment of the Church Commissioners to supporting the process of healing, repair and justice for all of those across society impacted by the legacy of African chattel enslavement.”

Britain enslaved 3.1 million Africans between 1640 and 1807, transporting them to colonies around the world, according to Historic England, a public body. Many of these people were taken to the Caribbean to work on sugar plantations, which made their owners very wealthy through the export of sugar, molasses and rum, according to the National Archives.

“Crimes against humanity rooted in African chattel enslavement have caused damage so vast it will require patient effort spanning generations to address. But we can start today, in small and large ways,” Monday’s report said.

It also urged the Church Commissioners to deliver the full sum committed to the fund sooner than over the nine years originally envisaged.

“The oversight group’s independent work with the Church Commissioners is the beginning of a multi-generational response to the appalling evil of transatlantic chattel enslavement,” said Welby.

In 2020, major British institutions, including the Bank of England and insurance market Lloyd’s of London, apologized for their historic ties to the transatlantic slave trade in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd in the United States.

The movement saw companies around the world pledge to address racial injustice by, for instance, increasing ethnic minority hiring or donating to charitable organizations.

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