Monday, 27 November 2006

"I'd like to be there when you try..."

Thomas Wolsey: You'd like that, wouldn't you? To govern the country with prayers?

Thomas More: Yes, I should.

Thomas Wolsey: I'd like to be there when you try.

I often have cause to ponder Cardinal Wolsey's words (from "A Man for All Seasons") at the Cathedral, as inevitably I find myself caught up in the world of finances. Today was spent largely poring over accounts and setting budgets for 2007 - something about which I know little. Luckily, I am able to draw upon a large pool of expertise.

The requirement to increase revenue, to fundraise (something I am increasingly required to do), and even to talk about money is one I acknowledge reluctantly. A Cathedral is a House of God, a priest is a man of prayer, and that should be the end of the matter. However, the Church exists in this world, and Cathedrals need to pay their way. Inevitably, finances occupy a great deal of my time. If one cares about the Cathedral, and its ministry, then it must be so, for we cannot provide the service we do, develop our facilities, or preserve our heritage, unless we ensure that we are financially sound. With funding neither from Government, Diocese, nor Vatican, then we must raise funds ourselves, and ask our worshippers and parishioners to be as generous as they can.

One thing that would never be done is to charge admission; in some ways I would prefer to see the Cathedral closed down, for such a development would be utterly contrary to the sign we wish to give, that God's House is open for all, and welcomes all. However, that means we must be ingenious and determined in our strategy - and so it is that I spend all day on finances.

We have some good programmes in place for the coming year, and are in a position to plan with more accuracy and openness. But we must keep those prayers up, and never lose sight of the real purpose of the Cathedral - perhaps St Thomas was really on to something!

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