I think I'm going to give up this Christian humourist lark. I just can't compete with that bunch of comedians that call themselves the Church of England.


The Archbishop of Canterbury is understood to be "furious" after the Church of England confirmed it invests indirectly in online lender Wonga. It comes after the Most Reverend Justin Welby told Wonga boss Errol Damelin the Church would try to force the firm out of business by boosting credit unions. But the Church later said it invested in funds that provide money for Wonga.

Lambeth Palace said an independent inquiry would be launched in to how "this serious inconsistency" occurred.


WELBY 1 – WONGA 1 — 2 Comments

  1. Well, there are two parts to this story. First, no one on Welby’s staff told him of this. In this diocese, when the Icelandic bank thing went whale-belly up, the first thing I did was email the chair of the Board of Finance to find out if we had any money in them. We didn’t, luckily; a couple of dioceses did and lost a bundle. There should have been some curiosity on the part of the Lambeth Palace staff as to whether the Church Commissioners were investing in anything connected with payday lending. I wouldn’t expect Welby to know the ins and outs of the CC’s investments, but someone on his staff should have.

    Second, the investment policies of the CCs are pretty grim. They sacrifice housing for poor people to greater returns that they can make elsewhere…such as in payday lending. They rely on the Bishop of Oxford case, which established that a charity has to maximise returns on its investments rather than follow ethical investment guidelines. If it can do both, fine. But if it can only do the first, the second has to go by the board. And Welby has only one vote on the CCs.

    I thought he did a pretty good job of defusing Humphrys on Today this morning. But he still wasn’t fully briefed on the CCs and his power (or lack of power) over them. He never mentioned it. So unless it was a deliberate ploy to take responsibility for the gaffe himself he could have been even more forceful.

    PS: I expect that the CCs will point out that interest rates in the 5000%s will make a lot of money to support the 80 and 90-year-old retired vicars and their widows, who will probably have to borrow from Wonga to support themselves before their pension money lands in their bank accounts.