Reposted from the Guardian
The Church of England faces the prospect that last year’s controversy over its investment in Wonga could be reignited after the body that advises the church on the morality of its investments said the church should maintain its involvement with the payday lender.
The church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) embarked on a review after the Archbishop of Canterbury promised to put payday lenders like Wonga “out of business” without realising that his church’s financial arm had a stake in the firm, believed to be close to £100,000.
James Featherby, the EIAG’s chairman, says in the review that the controversy “highlighted some misconceptions about ethical investment, and in particular that its objective is to achieve a morally perfect portfolio”.
But he continued: “It is no more realistic to desire that they invest only in morally perfect companies than it is to desire that any of us should relate only to morally perfect individuals. In any event, such an objective would rather miss the point of the Gospel. It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick.”
Featherby said the EIAG would usually only recommend divestment where it saw “no genuine desire for change”.
While the body was in the process of tightening its recommendations regarding investment restrictions, he added: “Difficult choices remain, and it is inevitable that the investing bodies will from time to time graze their knees as they interact with a complex and ambiguous business world.
“But in our view, it is better to stay on the field of play than to sit on the sidelines.”