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Dean of York defends Anglican cathedrals

The Very Reverend Keith Jones, Dean of York has written to the Catholic Herald, responding to an intemperate and ill-informed attack on York Minster’s admissions charges and the Church of England in general.

An entry charge at York Minster is needed to maintain such a gigantic building

SIR – William Oddie makes very hostile comments about York Minster in protest at the entry charge, and many other things. He does not say how otherwise we are to maintain this gigantic building, which is not subsidised by the state, and which employs (proudly) numerous skilled workers in stone and glass, and music and teaching, to maintain York Minster for the nation and the world at large. We are not profiteers, but a charity. We take pains to make our references to our constant worship and Christian witness such that non-Christians will not be put off, but his sneers fail to mention that we give free entry to acts of worship or the fact that hundreds attend Evensong each day.

Then there is his charge of the Minster being “purloined” at the Reformation. As an expression of hard-line opinion he is entitled to utter it, but for those Christians who hope and pray for better it is crude and hopeless. For the record, our Anglican view is that York Minster is the product and expression of English Christianity, and belongs now as always to the people of England under their lawful sovereign. The Dean and Chapter maintain and administer it for them by the same law of the land.

The relationship of the Church of England with the see of Rome has varied in form considerably over the centuries; however, we do not believe that the Church of this land is constituted by our recognition of the jurisdiction of the Pope and we hold to the hope of a union of the Churches in which we can belong together again, the honour (and even primacy) of the Roman see being appropriately recognised. Of course it is a difficult thing, but York Minster is a place where already many traditions of English Christianity meet often in friendship and hospitality, praying together and sharing many things we hold in common. Mr Oddie’s accusations of criminality hardly relate to what we believe to be the guidance, let alone the charitableness, of the Holy Spirit, but rather to the jeers of sectarian strife.

Yours faithfully,
Keith Jones

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John HawthorneevensongjunkieJohn BowlesMike from DevonErika Baker Recent comment authors
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JCF
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JCF

Well said, Dean Jones!

Scott Knitter
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Scott Knitter

The Dean of York’s response is spot on.

Grandmère Mimi
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Oddie’s letter is ugly and hostile, surely. Having said that, when I visited the Minster 2 years ago, I was startled to see the toll booths inside. The set-up is professional, like a business. I couldn’t help but remember the Gospel story of Jesus cleansing the temple. I met an English lady who said she would not set foot in the Minster so long as the toll booths were there. ‘You should not have to pay to go into a church!’ I understand that the costs of maintaining the Minster, but still…. I returned later for Evensong and was not… Read more »

Charlotte
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Charlotte

I don’t honestly know whether there was anything worthwhile in the Catholic Herald’s attack, but the Dean’s reply is a masterpiece of invective. Reading it was pure sustained sensual pleasure. If we still had common-place books it would go immediately into all of them. (Well, we still do have common-place books, but they’re all electronic now.)

robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

A primacy of honour is a nonsense and the papacy is by Divine right endowed with authority and jurisdiction. Look at Anglicanism to see what a primacy of honour results in.

The Church of England has billions in assets and could easily subsidise entry to the major cathedrals. Interestingly the Ancient cathedrals of France, italy , Spain and Austria do not charge entry fees.

One thing you can bet on on, that the Dean of York lives in a comfortable Deanery with all the perks of the job.

Ed Tomlinson
Guest

The letter claims:

‘Our Anglican view is that York Minster is the product and expression of English Christianity, and belongs now as always to the people of England’

So why then is the C of E refusing the Ordinariate any use of its buildings- many formerly Catholic? Are we not English and an expression of English faith?

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Mr Oddie is a bully (as shown by some of his own comments on his blog). I think that the Dean would have been well advised not to respond to his intemperate rantings.

Frozenchristian
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Frozenchristian

The Dean replies well and has a better grasp of theology and history than eg Ed Tomlinson. However, many of us would disagree that our hopes for union include giving the Bishop of Rome a special place. We had a big row about that in England a few years back and decided not to.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

‘…the papacy is by Divine right endowed with authority and jurisdiction.’

And I am right and you are wrong and I know that because I say so.

Wonderful. Thank you Mr Williams. We don’t need to think for ourselves, we will just do and think everything you tell us. That will make life so much easier.

Mike from Devon
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Mike from Devon

This is obviously a raw and tricky subject, but sectarian “yah-boo” on both sides edifies neither. For goodness’ sake grow up…and that applies equally to both sides.

The fact is such a building as York Minster does not really belong to anyone. At the moment, the Church of England has custody of it, but should it really have to fund stone and mortar out of the weekly collection? The bigger question is whether our ancient cathedrals and churches should actually be supported by the State.

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

‘the honour (and even primacy) of the Roman see being appropriately recognised.’

Or not, more like. What primacy ? What honour?

The denomination needs to sort itself out on child abuse and its cover up etc…

The current undermining of Vatican 2 and oppression of gay people does little to inspire confidence in me, in the RCC as an institution.

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

‘our hopes for union’

Whose hopes,for what union ?

I commend JC Ryle’s tract The True Church to your consideration.

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

Mr Oddie is, I assume, agreeable to the return of the Pantheon to its pre-Christian usage.

Mike from Devon
Guest
Mike from Devon

Laurence Roberts I wouldn’t go flinging mud about child abuse if I were you. It has a terrible habit of coming back to haunt you. Believe you me child abuse was never just a Catholic problem and covering up was widespread. If you think it was just a Catholic problem then you really haven’t understood it…but instead are conveniently scapegoating an institution you clearly dislike, which will always prevent you from looking around you at your own society. Be that Church (in every denomination) be that Schools, Local Authorities, everywhere. All are guilty of covering up child abuse and to… Read more »

Alan T Perry
Guest

“Interestingly the Ancient cathedrals of France, Italy , Spain and Austria do not charge entry fees.” I can’t speak for the others, but were not the cathedrals of France taken over by the state? Indeed, “purloined”? The point is that if people want to see these monuments as monuments, someone has to pay for the maintenance and staffing of them. Free access for worship, of course, but otherwise an admission fee is sensible. One pays to go into any other monument, does one not? Whether it’s the Tower of London or Westminster Abbey (both of which I visited a few… Read more »

Paul Powers
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Paul Powers

I don’t know about Austria, Spain, or Italy, but in France many of the great cathedrals (e.g. Notre-Dame de Paris) are owned and maintained by the state. The English cathedrals aren’t. Charging admission to visit (but not to worship) at churches in England isn’t really a new idea. According to its website, Westminster Abbey started doing it in 1697.

Fr John
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Fr John

The Dean of York’s response is clear, and concise, and matter of fact. I would question his need to respond to a disagreable individual, who carries more baggage than the proverbial bag lady. He sounds a bitter and twisted individual who having left the Church of England can only be spitefull, and vindictive.
A warning to some of those who have run into the ordinariate, thinking the grass is greener on the other side.
I for one respect the Pope, but will remain a loyal Anglican , catholic and reformed.

rjb
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rjb

The Dean of York’s response to William Oddie is more thoughtful than the original article warranted, but I don’t think it quite addresses the huge offence that is caused to many Christians by the very idea of charging money to enter a church – for any reason at all. The question of how to sustain these ancient buildings year round is a huge one, and those cathedrals that do not charge admission struggle to cover their costs (I remember a priest at Southwark telling me that the average per-person donation to the cathedral was about 4p). But it really does… Read more »

Neal Terry
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Neal Terry

Looking forward to the primacy of Rome? Looking backwards shurely.

rjb
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rjb

Incidentally, Oddie (not the smallest of the Goodies I take it?) may be a bully and a bigot, but his last paragraph makes the point jolly well in my view: “Nobody who enters a holy place should be regarded as a tourist, simply there as a source of revenue: each one of them has an immortal soul, and whether they know it or not they are all in search of God. They are more likely, much more likely, to find Him if they are allowed freely to enter His house.” Amen to that.

Jim Pratt
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Jim Pratt

“Interestingly the Ancient cathedrals of France, italy , Spain and Austria do not charge entry fees.”

About 15 years ago, I paid an admission fee at the cathedral in Sevilla.

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Fr John, I do not think Dr Oddie became “bitter and twisted” nor “spiteful and vindictive” after he left the Church of England.

Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

In Belgium, Germany, Austria (I think Spain and Italy as well?), the RC Church currently receives large sums of money from the state via church taxes. I doubt very much whether this system will last another generation, given the current massive falling away of members across Europe. So, the issue of funding for historic church buildings is likely to be very much debated in future years Europe-wide.

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Mike from Devon you make a great many assumptions about me ! in your semi-anon comment of Thursday, 18 August 2011 at 12:55pm BST I am, and have been for years,in fact, quite involved with the RC denomination in various ways, but like Peter de Rosa, and the Taoiseach, I speak as a friend not an enemy. However, *I try not to fawn or bury my head in the sand, when it comes to the terrible cover-up of physical cruelty, neglect and sex abuse by RC authorities.* * Having participated in programmes sponsored and funded by the Irish government for… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

PS I spoke in support of Vatican 2, and feel my comments were not scape-goating, Mike Devon.

Rev Brian Darcy is another critical friend of the rcc.(radio 2 Sunday Half Hour), who also cares about the children and adults seeking to rebuild their lives anew…

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

Look at the Papacy and see what belief in its own “divine right endowed with authority and jurisdiction” has resulted in, RIW.

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

I am hardly an expert on the French Revolution, the Great Terror, the Rise of Napoleon, and all that, but: I believe that during the Revolution, the RCC structure was dismantled, priests and bishops executed, and church buildings seized for (mis)use by the State. During or after Napoleon, some sort of rapprochement was achieved whereby the State maintained ownership of church buildings, but Roman Catholicism and other faiths were restored, and the RCC was allowed to use church buildings for religious purposes. Robert Williams, if that is indeed the case, your argument falls flat. Using French taxes to maintain church… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Mark
“I doubt very much whether this system will last another generation, given the current massive falling away of members across Europe.”

In Germany the taxation system is merely the collection vehicle. A church tax as a percentage of income is paid by everyone who is registered either with the Protestant or the Catholic church.
Falling member numbers automatically translate into reduced revenue.

Peter Bithell
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Peter Bithell

Cathedrals outside Britain are now starting to charge for admission.
Seville cathedral charged 8 euros when I was there last year.There was a long queue to get in all day.

rick allen
Guest

When I was a college student in the mid-70’s I was able to spend a summer on the continent, but I only had an average of ten dollars per day for food, lodging and local transportation (to get from city to city I had the wonderful second class student Eurail pass). At that rate I averaged one meal a day, and meat no more often than once a week, but was very happy that I could spend lots of time in the great cathedrals, basilicas and shrines on such a budget. I couldn’t have afforded nine pounds then, and though… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

“When the French government officially separated itself from the Roman Catholic Church early in the 20th century, it took ownership of all cathedrals owned by the church, and they became public buildings. This included Notre-Dame. The cathedral is now technically managed by the Caisse Nationale des Monuments Historiques (the National Historical Monument Trust), a government agency that is responsible for most major landmarks. Services are still held inside the cathedral by the Catholic church, however, and it still manages the cathedral in many respects as if it still owned the structure.”

Daniel Berry
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Daniel Berry

The same ol’ garden-variety grudge. In our time it’s made worse by the fact that in most places Roman catholic services are unbearable to sit through while Anglicans are justly proud of their liturgy – and not just in marvelous places like York. All of this comes of the Roman penchant for requirements, obligations, “pain of mortal sin” and the rest of it that have made Roman adherence a chore at best; a bitter duty for many; and an unacceptable fraud for more and more. Roman catholics have become less and less able to sit still for having to apologize… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

“a sanctuary is primarily for corporate worship, that otherwise one is a tourist” OCICBW, but I don’t understand the current Minster fee system in that way. There’s a fee if you are not there for *religious purposes*: not just “corporate worship”, but any kind of prayer, meditation, visit to the Blessed Sacrament (of the sort that RIW doesn’t believe exists in an Anglican sanctuary, but no matter! ;-/) One can find God anywhere. If I found God via the art in a museum I paid to enter (and I have!), would I demand my money back? Ergo, I don’t think… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Some authorities say all ancient French churches are state property.

Dave
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Dave

By the same logic the churches in the diocese of New Westminster belong to their congregations not the diocese.

Mike from Devon
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Mike from Devon

So many of the comments on this site are so deeply uncharitable. Commentators on this site like nothing more than to sling mud at “the Roman Church”, it is quite disgraceful. I have seen it time and time again. @Laurence Roberts: my point is that the neglect, cruelty and cover up was not, and is not, simply a Catholic problem. I know this first hand – both in my personal and professional capacity dealing with abuse claims against the CofE. The media is just not as interested in paedophile priests in the Anglican Communion – because it prefers to wound… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

I am so sorry you have been through all that Mike from Devon.

Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

Martin Reynolds: “Some authorities say all ancient French churches are state property.”

Yes, they are (it’s all churches older than the late 19th c, I think), and when there is damage to the property by fire, floods or whatever, it is the commune which is responsible for getting the problem fixed.

Jerry Hannon
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Jerry Hannon

For “Mike from Devon,” give us a break from your self-righteous “offense” at posted criticisms of the Roman Catholic Church. From my reading of them, most are in response to snide remarks from a combination of Former Anglicans plus a coterie of radical fringe elements of the RC’s congregants. Most are indeed responses more of the “mote in your own eye” reference, and not attacks per se. Having spent the first 33 years of my 67 year life as an RC, including seventeen years of RC education, I find it interesting — but nauseating — to witness the hyperbole from… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

Those seeking “deeply uncharitable” comments could do worse than start with Mr Oddie.

Peter Edwards
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Peter Edwards

I wish I had posted late last night, to be among the first of these comments. If you really want to read vitriolic bigotry, go to the comments on the Catholic Herald site-link (‘comments’ hyperlink in line one of the Dean’s response) and any unfriendly tosh about RCs (and defensive-aggressive RCs on this site) will look like nursery rhymes compared with those about ‘gussied-up prods’ and Cathedral thieves etc there. Whoever said the Reformation was over a long time ago?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“A primacy of honour is a nonsense and the papacy is by Divine right endowed with authority and jurisdiction.” – Robert I. Williams – Robert and Ed Tomlinson (Ordinariate) have one thing in common – their fealty to the Bishop of Rome. In both cases, they claim to have ‘Seen The Light’, which has meant their transfer of loyalty from the Church OF England to the Church OF Rome. In each case, they now obviously feel the need to denigrate their former Mother in he Faith, to seek the embrace of a wider constituency. Unfortunately, for both of them, and… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“The media is just not as interested in paedophile priests in the Anglican Communion – because it prefers to wound Our Lord’s side even more by attacking the Catholic Church”

Because, by your logic M-from-D, “our Lord’s side” is not to be found in the Anglican Communion (which *you* distinguish from the Church Catholic)? Charity, come again? O_o

If the game is set as “Heads, You Win/Tails, I Lose”, don’t be surprised if most of us here at Thinking Anglicans don’t choose to play.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

If we move this thread away from the Catholic vs. Protestant mud fight and get back to the actual point made… do those who do not like semi-compulsory pay points at the entrance of Cathedrals have any credible alternative funding ideas? I expect the Cathedrals don’t like it much either and many will regret that “toll booth” style entrances are necessary because visitors would otherwise not donate any money. Considering that the CoE is legally responsible for the upkeep of these buildings and that their own parishioners cannot possibly pay anywhere near the costs for this – what would you… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

This, from yesterday’s Guardian article on the Bishop of London. – ‘The church is responsible for 45% of the Grade I-listed buildings in the country, yet receives only 6% of the maintenance costs from any public source,” he says.’ puts things in perspective perhaps.

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

As I have stated on previous occasions the Catholic Church gave up claim to the ancient churches and endowments as apart of a deal before Catholic emancipation was granted in 1829.

In 1850 they even forbade us by parliamentary legislation to take on the names of the ancient sees.

It is illegal to charge entry to a Catholic church or Cathedral where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Precisely the point Erica. As I have posted before here, the average donation in my cathedral where there is no admission charge, is 67p.

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

How “illegal”, RIW? English law, or the Vatican law that so often trumps local law where charges of pedophilia are concerned?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“It is illegal to charge entry to a Catholic church or Cathedral where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.” – Robert I. Williams –

Since when was it against the law in the U.K. to charge entrance to Roman Catholic churches where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved? Or is this another plea of ‘injustice’ to R.C.’s in the U.K.?

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

RIW:

“Illegal”…or simply against canon law? There is a difference, you know. I doubt the civil authorities would arrest a priest who charged admission.