Saturday, July 27, 2013

Archbishop Justin Welby and Wonga Lending

Archbishop  Welby was appointed only recently as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. He is a very different man from Pope Francis I but both the Jesuit and the Anglican priest have in common the facts of their appointments to high office having taken place only in the past few months.

Both leaders appear to get on well  with each other although their characters seem very different.

Christianity is under attack from consumerism and apparent weakening of peoples' backbone in the West and by political  and pseudo-religious extremism in many other parts of the world so these two new leaders will have their work cut out in re-invigorating religious belief and Christian life.

Justin Welby has  a City background. At first I wondered how that could be reconciled with the biblical accounts of Jesus throwing the money-lenders out of the Temple. The Archbishop of Canterbury however appears to be making positive use of his City background in seeking both to help today's poor  and simultaneously educating the (comparative) rich.  Encouraging Credit Unions to step in more to assist borrowers and making the point that some commercial lenders' borrowing rates of c. 2000% p.a . seem usurious is very positive.  I do not read the  account of the money lenders being thrown out of  the Temple as signifying that money and borrowing have no place in society but simply that their place is not actually within the house of god. After all the bible reports elsewhere the words to the effect that we should 'render to Caesar that which is Caesar's and to God that which is God's'. 'Caesar' is  surely  a reference to the government of the day to which tax (money) has to be paid for the common good?

The fact that the Church of England was then found to have originally  backed Wonga to the tune of I believe about £100,000 does not detract at all from the substance of the  Archbishop's statements although the media seems to think otherwise. Perhaps criticising religious leaders sells more newspapers than praising them but to me, the previous  actions of the  CoE's  investment gurus which are obviously not those of recently appointed  Archbishop, do not undermine the Archbishop's statements. Indeed having just discerned that the Church of England had  actually  invested before  in that kind of non credit union lender, he is now  seeking  a review of the CoE investing policies.

Two positives rather than one are  to be lauded not moaned about. Well done the Archbishop.

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