Cathedrals in England to be given management overhaul after growing cash crisis problems

Peterborough Cathedral.Pixabay

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are to examine how England's 42 Anglican cathedrals are run after a 'cash flow crisis' at the historic Peterborough cathedral.

The two Archbishops, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, have set up a Cathedrals Working Group in response to a request by the Bishop of Peterborough.

He wants the current law concerning how cathedrals are run, the Cathedrals Measure, to be looked at again. 

Twelve people were made redundant at Peterborough Cathedral after the Early English Gothic former Benedictine abbey built in the 12th century got into financial difficulties.

The cathedral was running at a 'substantial' loss, most of its properties were mortgaged, there were no free reserves and serious levels of debt, Bishop Donald Allister said in a visitation charge after his own inquiry. He warned that the current independence enjoyed by the 42 cathedrals poses 'serious risks' to the reputation of the entire Church of England.

Other cathedrals are also reported to be in difficulty.

The new working group will review how cathedrals are governed. Among other steps, it is likely to recommend training in finance and management for Deans and Chapters. 

It will be chaired by the Bishop of Stepney, Adrian Newman, former Dean of Rochester Cathedral. Vice-chair will the Dean of York, Vivienne Faull.

In a joint statement, Newman and Faull said: 'Cathedrals contribute uniquely to the ecology of the Church of England, and we are a healthier, stronger Church when they flourish. We are pleased to have this opportunity to review the structures that support their ministry, in order to enhance their role in Church and society.

'Cathedrals are one of the success stories of the Church of England, with rising numbers of worshippers. They are a vital part of our heritage and make an incalculable contribution to the life of the communities that they serve. This is an exciting opportunity for the working group to look at the different aspects of how cathedrals work and to ensure that the legislation and procedures they use are fit for purpose for their mission in the 21st century.'

Other members of the working group include Labour MP Jack Straw and former Bishop of Leicester, Tim Stevens.