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Church of England Does Some Introspection on Its Colonial Past

The Church of England’s decision to set up a £100m fund for communities adversely affected by historic slavery is the latest – and biggest – step it has taken over the past few years to “address past wrongs” relating to its links to the slave trade. The report on the origins of the C of E’s healthy £9bn-plus endowment fund correctly describes the 17th century slave trade as “abhorrent” and a source of misery and injustice. The C of E acknowledged on Tuesday that £100m was a large sum in a time of “significant financial challenges”. The amount may be generous, but it is likely to spread thinly across educational and other projects in west Africa and the Caribbean, where the fund’s activities are expected to be focused. In 2021 the C of E announced it was reviewing thousands of monuments in 12,500 parish churches and 42 cathedrals that contained such historical references. It told its clergy, officials and congregations that ignoring contested heritage was not an option. Possible actions included the removal, relocation or alteration of plaques and monuments, and addition of contextual information.