Welby: Wonga 'embarrassment'

The Archbishop of Canterbury has admitted he is "embarrassed" and "irritated" after learning the Church of England indirectly invests in online lender Wonga - the focus of Justin Welby's criticism over payday loans yesterday.

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Church 'speaking for the poor' against payday lenders

The Church of England is "speaking for the poor" in its opposition to payday lenders, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said he had received an "unusual" number of positive responses since he told short-term, high-cost credit firm Wonga that the Church wants to "compete" it out of existence as part of its plans to expand credit unions.

Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Reverend Justin Welby. Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Speaking at an event organised by the New Wine church movement, in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, the Archbishop said: "The last few days have been astonishing with this affair over the payday lenders.

"For a start, the positive comments have outweighed the negative - which in the letters that come to me is unusual.

"What people have commented on is a church speaking for the poor. And when the Church is real, people pay attention."

Johnson: Welby's credit plans 'a wonderful idea'

Boris Johnson backed Justin Welby's plans. Credit: PA

Mayor of London Boris Johnson backed the Archbishop of Canterbury's plans to compete payday lenders "out of existence" and said it was an "interesting interpretation of the gospels".

"I think it's a wonderful idea," he told Channel 4 News.

"Wonga is a perfectly legitimate business but there's no doubt their rates are usurious. There are people who find it very, very difficult to repay the loans once they get into trouble.

"He's not turning over the tables of the money lenders, he's bringing in his own money lending tables. It's a very interesting interpretation of the gospels."

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Church of England owns shares in scores of companies

The Church of England holds millions of pounds worth of shares in companies in everything from oil to pharmaceuticals and technology as part of an investment portfolio worth around £7.5 billion, documents show.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Credit: Press Association

Google, Apple, Shell, BP, GlaxoSmithKline and Vodafone are among the companies backed by the Church's three bodies that manage and administer investments, according to documents available on its website.

Others include mining firms Rio Tinto and Anglo American, food producer Nestle and British supermarket Tesco.Ecclesiastic financial activity is monitored by the Church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG), which makes recommendations on ethical investment policy.

Watch: Church to conduct review of its investments following Wonga revelation

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Welby: Church shouldn't have invested in Wonga

Talking about the revelation that the church's pension fund had invested in payday lender Wonga, the Most Reverend Justin Welby has said the business is "incredibly complex" and explained of a £5.5bn portfolio, £75,000 was invested indirectly in Wonga without his knowledge.

Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Reverend Justin Welby. Credit: Press Association

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Today's programme, he said: "It shouldn't have happened, it's very embarrassing but these things happen and we have to find out why."

Archbishop 'furious' over Wonga investment

The Archbishop of Canterbury is reported to "furious" by the BBC after it was revealed that the Church of England pension fund invests in one of Wonga’s key financial backers.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is said to be "furious" when the revelations were made.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is said to be "furious" when the revelations were made. Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

The Most Reverend Justin Welby yesterday launched an attack on the payday loan company saying he wants to "compete it out of existence" by supporting credit unions.

The Church has now launched an investigation into how it has come to invest in the company.

Read more: Church of England 'indirectly invests in Wonga'

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