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If anybody tries to make you pay to enter an Anglican cathedral (built by the Catholic Church) refuse and enter anyway

You should, of course, make a voluntary contribution to its maintenance; but it’s your decision. They have no right to stop you

By on Wednesday, 27 July 2011

York Minster: view it online for free (PA photo)

York Minster: view it online for free (PA photo)

In 1967 a survey revealed that York Minster was close to collapse, and that something like £30 million (probably more) in today’s money was needed urgently to save it. The money was raised in a week, entirely from contributions from within Yorkshire. Double that was spent over the next five years, to reinforce and strengthen the Minster’s foundations and roof.

The speed of the reaction to this sudden crisis is a vivid demonstration of what this truly wonderful building means to all Yorkshiremen, whether they are “religious” or not. I wasn’t particularly religious myself (indeed, I was still a lifelong atheist) when, one day in the late 1960s, or maybe the early 70s, I visited the Minster (purely to have another look at this extraordinary piece of architecture, for that’s all it was to me then). As I stood in the middle of that majestic nave, and looked upwards, my entire life changed. It was borne in on me very powerfully that I had to ask myself a question: was it really possible that that was based on a lie? The answer was unavoidable: this great anthem in stone to the power and majesty of God could only be based on the truth: there was indeed a God, and nothing could for me ever be the same again.

So the Minster means a great deal to me: and that is why I am very angry indeed with the current dean and chapter of York. My son, who was born in London (who is nevertheless still half a Yorkshireman) decided, with his wife, that they would spend a few days holiday that was due to them, in Yorkshire. They spent a day in York (spend it all in York, I said, don’t bother with Leeds and Sheffield). If you only have a day, I said, the most important thing is to spend some time in the Minster. I asked them when they got back how they had reacted to their visit. Well, my son said, we only saw it from the outside: it cost £9 each to get in, and we were a bit hard up.

The fact is that the Minster authorities have no moral right whatever to prevent anyone freely entering this building. I know that money has to be raised for its maintenance. Nevertheless, this is the house of God: and to charge money for entrance to it is tantamount to simony, one definition of which is “trafficking for money in spiritual things”. I looked up their website to see what possible excuse they had for raising money in this disgustingly secular fashion, like charging for a go on the London Eye or the big dipper. They certainly seem to want people to visit the building: this is their (barely literate) sales pitch:

Visiting York Minster

A visit to York Minster is your moment in the long history of northern Europe’s greatest gothic cathedral. You’ll see traces of every age from the Roman occupation of York onwards to the future of this working and worshipping church.

In this section of the site we’ll show you everything you can do at York Minster, and how to make arrangements to visit us.

A good place to start is our virtual tour or interactive map, which will show you round the highlights of the Minster. Or look at our timeline, which illustrates the Minster’s rich history.

You can also find information on opening times and entrance prices and Concerts.

Well, there’s one thing about the virtual tour: if you don’t know the building, you can have a look (pan up towards the roof) to see what I am on about. But there’s not much on the site that I could find about this great building being a witness to the glory of God, though the mealy-mouthed “mission statement” does include the following (it could hardly say anything less): “… the splendour of the building, and the care that has gone into it over the centuries…. reflects the glory of God. It inspires the pleasure we take in welcoming visitors of all ages, and from all over the world, whether Christian or not.” Welcoming them, eh? For their money, or because you actually care about their immortal souls?

We are told that “Charges are made for those visiting for sightseeing” but that “No charges are made for those who wish to enter the Minster to pray or light a candle: please ask a member of staff on arrival”. But nothing was said to my son by any member of staff on his arrival, about entering “to pray or light a candle”: he was just told he had to pay or be turned away. And what exactly is the mission of these people? “Through all the activities of York Minster,” they gush, “runs our belief that God wants to show the world his love”: oh yeah? By charging them £9 a head to enter His house? And what exactly is this rigid distinction between those who want “to pray or light a candle” and those “visiting for sightseeing”? If sightseers find themselves praying (it’s the kind of effect that a building like this can have; it certainly did on me) or lighting a candle, can they ask for their money back?

I have had this problem before, getting into Anglican cathedrals built by the Catholic Church and purloined at the Reformation. They have no right to stop you (or anyone else) entering: simply refuse politely and go in. I know that buildings like this need maintaining. But I would almost certainly pay more than the entrance fee as a voluntary contribution, and I usually do. A notice suggesting a voluntary contribution, even specifying a recommended sum and with a desk there to collect the money (they could hand out a free guide or something to encourage people to give) would avoid this appalling and deeply secular tourist entrance fee.

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.

  • Ronk

    When I and my family were in Florence, we visited Santa Croce. The entrance fee was very small, a couple of euros, reduced to nil for the elderly. When inside, as soon as it was clear that we wanted to pray, an employee showed us to sveral roped off areas which were not open to paying tourists who had just come to gawk (and who missed out on some of the best artworks in the roped off areas).
    We paid no fee at S.Maria Novella. I think you have been ripped off by one of the beggars who station themselves outside major tourist-atrtaction churches in Italy and demand a donation, which many people assume must be a compulsory entrance fee and that the beggar is a church employee and teh mobney goes to the church instead of into the beggar’s (or his/her boss’s) pocket.

  • Mark Forbing

         Christendom, prior to the reformation meant Catholic. Your Anglican roots are the Catholic Church, which has apostolic succession directly to Christ, through St. Peter. The Catholic
    Church was violently suppressed in England during the reformation and it was illegal to be Catholic for a long time afterwords. You were murdered if you practised the Catholic faith, that is not a choice. Yet, many people chose to die, horribly, rather than deny their faith. The gorvernment in england confiscated Church property and wealth and used it to pay nobles and barons for their support. Please read Hillaire Belloc’s works on the reformation.
         The anglican liturgy is beautifully Catholic, I hear. But, like the sspx is finding out, you can’t just take the part of the church you like and go start your own, with or without state approval. The Church is the Bride of Christ, take her as She is, wounds and all, just like we take Christ, suffering and victorious. I wish you would come back home to the Catholic Church sir, we need you, and God bless you for the work you do , and thank you for your priestly ministry.
        I agree with Mr.Oddie. Churches should not be treated as museums. To do so shows we don’t really trust God.Thank you.

  • samson

    Why should Sam put himself to that trouble? I’ve been an Anglican all my life and never so much as heard the word “Protestant” used within the CoE. Still less have I ever encountered any worship or doctrine that seemed to me to be protestant. As I get older, I feel more and more that if our medieaval ancestors could see us, they would recognise much more that was familiar to them in the CoE than they ever would in post 19th century Roman Catholicism.

  • Anonymous

    There is no charge for St. Peter’s, and the Church does not sell Cupola.

    As to your point about the Church not being a building:  nobody ever thought differently (although we do refer to buildings as “churches”).  So what’s the point?

  • Anonymous

    Stealing is stealing.  Anybody may start a new church or religion, but there is no right to threaten clergy with death for not converting to that new church and then appropriating property.

    You neglected to point out that Henry VIII did not just steal, but he also destroyed many monasteries:  and how do you explain away that?  Or the killing over the centuries?

  • Anonymous

    Indeed, shame on ANY one who does so.  

    When I was in Hungary, I ran into the same issue.  I told the person that I was Catholic:  she understood, and let me in.

  • Anonymous

    I guess that we come to the issue:  which is greater?  A nation?  Or God? 

     If there is a God, then He is universal, and His churches do not belong to the nation or its government.

  • Waitamo

    Who did I buy my ticket from then?

    Climbing the Cupola Hours 8:00 – 18:00 (Apr – Sep) 8:00 – 16:45 (Oct –
    Mar) Cost 7 Euros for elevator, 6 Euros for stairs

  • Aidan Coyle

    That’s an interesting and rather radical suggestion from the Guest there. I wonder what other readers think of that? I wonder how these places of worship would be maintained in the absence of tourist income (the maintenance requirements for cathedrals are only minimally caused by tourist ‘traffic’). Or is it time to hand these buildings over to secular authorities entirely and create worship spaces that we can more easily maintain?

  • Anonymous

    Unless the sign/advice clearly says ‘optional’ then it is an entrance fee, hence I agree with the author.  What use is a six month pass when the majority will be tourists?  It sounds like rationalisation to me.

    A house of God is just that, and like the author, how many souls might be ignited with the power of the Holy Spirit had they not been put off entering by £18 for a couple?  My wife and I contribute as supporters of the Churches Conservation Trust and numerous other direct debits to worthy causes.  Those mortals amongst us with limited budgets should be ‘allowed’ to choose what – if anything – they contribute. 

  • Anonymous

    Unless the sign/advice clearly says ‘optional’ then it is an entrance fee, hence I agree with the author.  What use is a six month pass when the majority will be tourists?  It sounds like rationalisation to me.

    A house of God is just that, and like the author, how many souls might be ignited with the power of the Holy Spirit had they not been put off entering by £18 for a couple?  My wife and I contribute as supporters of the Churches Conservation Trust and numerous other direct debits to worthy causes.  Those mortals amongst us with limited budgets should be ‘allowed’ to choose what – if anything – they contribute. 

  • Aidan Coyle

    Dr Oddie is far from ignorant of ‘all things Anglican’, Samson, and therein may lie a large part of the explanation for the fulminating tone of his piece…

  • Rweiner

    The last time I paid a visit toSt. Peter’s there wasn’t a hint of money collecting.  A kindly priest with a beautiful East European accent heard my confession, and I twice assisted at evening Mass.  Never left a sou.  I contribute to Peter’s Pence and Caritas, as well as anything else the Holy Father might ask. 

  • Part-time_pilgrim

    If the majority of clergy or people had refused any of the
    reforms by any Tudor monarch then those reforms would not have happened. The
    majority, whether willing or not, assented to the changes. Had all taken John
    Fisher’s line England might still be a Catholic country. What actually happened
    was that priests and the congregations continued to worship in the same
    churches, some welcoming the changes, others acquiescing to thme. It is this
    continuity of worshipers and clergy that means, I think, that the buildings are
    Anglican buildings morally as well as in fact.

    As for the killing over the centuries, I have kept quiet
    about that because it happened on both sides.

  • samson

    Dr Oddie did indeed have a mercifully brief period as an Anglican priest.  I am surprised that he is unaware of the painful process by which the Minster authorities came to charge for admission. Voluntary collection boxes did not raise enough to cover running costs so they tried charging people who took photographs. Finally, they were forced to institute a charge for all visitors. This did not take place without a great deal of public debate, soul searching and huge media coverage over a period of years. “He was just told he had to pay or be turned away”? For years, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the Minster at least once a week. In all those visits I never once saw or heard the staff show anything other than warmth and courtesy to the visitors. I feel I owe it to them to say I find great difficulty in believing this account.

  • samson

    So, at the head of your party,  you overawed and dismayed the lady at the desk ? Then thank God you are no longer an Anglican priest!

  • Invictus_88

    Come, now…P-T_P!

    By that queer quasi-democratic logic, one of two things should happen, and neither of those is the status quo of Anglican possession! Either a) The buildings ought to return to the Catholic Church, because on any given Sunday the Catholic churchgoers outnumber the Anglican churchgoers, so the “People of Britain” have voted with their feet. or b) The buildings ought to be de-consecrated and made the property of local government councils, because the majority of the population is pretty ambivalent about Christianity.

    (Not not mention, parishes joining the Ordinariate ought to be allowed FULL and EXCLUSIVE use of their formerly Anglican buildings, but that is – for sure – not for discussion here.)

  • Guest

    I understand that it is certainly radical, but I doubt this level of maintenance would be necessary without the high volume of tourists. Restoration work, combined with modern technology ought to mean that less and less work is necessary (water sealing etc.) but instead it seems that the support of the tourist infrastructure just seems to grow and grow.

    Most of these charges began with the Howe Report, which proposed the funding of repairs and maintenance through visitor charges. However, Westminster Abbey remains a case in point of visitors creating an extra expense. At one point in the 90s the Abbey was receiving some 16,000 visitors a day, who simply crowded into the Abbey and made it unsuitable for worship. The Abbey then had to implement crowd control measures and an infrastructure to handle the vast numbers of tourists. By 1998 this cost has risen so much that the entrance fee had to be introduced.

    My figures may be a bit off, but I remember getting this from a random tourism journal I read when very bored. If anyone knows of it, please do post it.

  • Part-time_pilgrim

    The argument is not about democracy but continuity of worship. The Anglican church did not kick out the Catholic priests and congregations and replace them with others. By and large congregations and clergy accepted the changes, not immediately, maybe not willingly

  • Part-time_pilgrim

    Somehow lost some of my post before hitting the button. It should have read:

    The argument is not about democracy but continuity. The
    Anglican Church did not kick out the Catholic priests and congregations and
    replace them with others. By and large congregations and clergy accepted the
    changes under Henry VIII then to a Protestant church, then back to a Catholic
    one, then back to Protestantism. The changes were not accepted immediately,
    maybe not even willingly but accept they were accepted. I agree, if you accept
    the continuity argument, parishes joining the Ordinariate ought to bring the
    church with them. I nearly mentioned it in my post, but as you say, it is a
    little off topic.

    For us Catholics to claim the churches as our own is to deny
    400 years of history. It also dishonours those of our ancestors who stood firm
    in their faith, not just “in spite of dungeon fire and sword” but also in an
    environment where almost everyone thought they were wrong. In the same way
    Anglicans can not claim that the buildings have always been Anglican as if the
    Anglican church was somehow nascent in England within the Catholic church.

  • Fr Gerard Barry

    I have lived in York for over 7 years and have never been around the Minster because of the entrance fee – I object to it on the grounds of being charged to enter a place of worship. I would make a donation, but that is not what is asked and it horrifies me that my sister cannot afford to take her children around if she is visiting (and would never let me pay for her).
    I was told I could go around for free as I am a priest – I don’t think that is the kind of game I would like to play.
    I go into St Wilfrid’s Catholic Church opposite – pray before the Blessed Sacrament and that always does for me.

  • Dolly

    The few churchs (built by English hands) but run by roman priests were used to as part of a torture chamber with several English martyers tortured and killed by roman priests.

    England returned these to the rightful worship of Chrsitianity.

    I trust refusnicks who enter will be promptly arrrested for tresspassing.

  • Invictus_88

    But the Church buildings ARE Catholic, and admitting it doesn’t seem to dishonour anybody. Catholic buildings in Protestant possession is perfectly factual, surely?

  • samson

    There is absolutely no need to pay an entrance fee at the Minster. Anyone who simply tells the verger that he wishes to attend the next service or that he wishes to pray in the chapel where the sacrament is reserved will be immediately admitted in front of visitors who are queuing to pay. He is then free to spend as much time viewing the cathedral as he wishes. That,a least, has been my unvarying experience over many years. There are notices to this effect by the entrance. The problem is really that, for unfathomable reasons, some here are determined to find themselves discriminated against.

  • JonnyB

    ““No charges are made for those who
    wish to enter the Minster to pray or light a candle: please ask a
    member of staff on arrival “.But nothing was said to my son by any
    member of staff on his arrival…”

    Being slightly pedantic (not
    unwarranted, in my opinion, given the petty attitude of your own
    writing) you say nothing was said to your son, then, give the
    impression that he said nothing to the staff, as directed. “please
    ask” ≠
    “wait for staff to ask you”.

    headline asserts that you should not be refused entry and/or forced
    to pay ‘admission fees’ for non-tourist entry, then go on to point
    out (by quoting them) that the Minster, itself, embraces this
    attitude. You, subsequently, infer the same experience, in a comment,
    at Canterbury. So what, exactly, is your point?

    have visited many places of worship (of various faiths) and, yes,
    some suggest a donation of x value, but not one has ever refused me
    entry or held me to ransom for a donation. It seems, to me, that you
    are merely seeking a reason to attack Anglicans/secularism and, thus,
    inventing an issue to suit that wont.

    you, and to the person who calls them “… our churches…”, I
    simply say that none of the churches belong to any of us and, yet, at
    the same time they all belong to all of us. Our relationship with God
    is not conducted according to which building we are in & by whom
    it is owned, but, instead, it is conducted between Him & us
    through our hearts, souls, minds & deeds… wherever we may be.

  • Tiggy

    Many thanks for your hilarious post. Made me laugh anyway.

  • samson

    I wonder how familiar you are with Anglican cathedrals? In my experience, their size and beauty strikes awe into those who come but as sight seers. I cannot now recollect ever seeing any irreverence or lack of respect in cathedral visitors. I’d certainly be very uneasy about attempting to make a distinction between the “mere” tourist who gets in the way and the “devout” whose superior piety makes them alone worthy to enter. 

  • amfortas

    What an astonishingly bad tempered piece. William Oddie always comes across as a grumpy old man but this is just a silly rant.

  • amfortas

    So the Catholic Church was invented at the Reformation. What an incredible piece of unhistorical nonsense.

  • amfortas

    Not just a grumpy old man but a prejudiced grumpy old man. Do you plan to reclaim Hagia Sophia for Orthodoxy?

  • amfortas

    Have you ever thought of asking politely for something. You’d be surprised by how far it might get you in life.

  • chiaramonti

    Not so. It is often forgotten that Henry VIII was not at all interested in Lutheran reforms.  He was ooposed to them. His dispute was with the Pope because he wanted to rid himself of his first wife and Pope Clement would not agree. Thereafter, he happily burnt heretics, as he called them, while executing the likes of More, Fisher and the Carthusian monks because they denied his title of Supreme Head of the Church in England.Henry’s dissolution of the monasteries was prompted mainly because the treasury was empty and he, guided by Thomas Cromwell, lusted after their wealth. The protestant church did not take off until the reign of Edward, when wily nobles, anxious that the property they looted from the church should remain theirs,advanced the Lutheran doctrines and started the long journey that generations later produced the ‘no popery’ that still exists today. There were some genuine reformers but history has been distorted to give the impression that the protestant reformation was driven by the populace at large. It wasn’t- certainly not outside London. If it were, Mary Tudor would not have been given the welcome she was after the death of Edward although Somerset and others tried very hard to impose Lady Jane Grey, a convinced protestant, as Queen. Remember, the Pilgrimage  of Grace, had it been better and more ruthlessly led, would probably have toppled Henry from his throne. The Anglican Church did not really get going until the reign of Elizabeth, when the policy was to destroy the Catholic church not in quite the bloody way practised by Henry but gradually, by forbidding “Jesuits and Seminary priests” as they were called, coming in to England. Existing “Marian” priests were generally left alone. The idea was that the Church would die from the roots up as the generations went by.No priests would mean no masses and no sacraments and it is the common experience of all of us that eventually most will conform if the alternative is made unpleasant enough. Many did not and paid the penalty in both fines, exclusion from public life, and a few, with their lives. Eventually, by the time of the Stuarts most did conform. Elizabeth was more tolerant than her father and brother and providing it was not done too publically, tolerated some “Papists” such as the composer William Byrd and the first Viscount Montegue, the only lay peer who dared to speak in Parliament against the passing of the Supremacy statutes.Had the real prottestants had their way, the beautiful Anglican cathedrals that remain would have gone the way of the monasteries. The puritans, who wanted to abolish bishoprics, had no time for them. They exist only because of the lingering affection for Catholic practices that the reformation was never really succesful in removing. It is a great pity that they cannot be shared to a greater degree than they are at present.

  • Dolly

    I would like to ask Mr Odious what he thinks we should do:

    I am the maintenance engineer and worshipper at a wholly owned church of England grade II listed building which is part of the ‘Anglican Catholics’ community. We have a very nice elderly lady, ex.warden, who joined the Roman catholic ordinariate some months ago but who continues to use our car park to attend her Roman church some way down the road. Wether she does this because of frailty or to avoid the parking fees down there I could not say.

    Should we demand a fee for her parking her car?
    Should we refuse to let her in?

    Should we just accept a small deprivation and assist her in her devotions to God and Christ by allowing her to park without charge?

  • Part-time_pilgrim

    I can’t see anything in your post that contradicts what I have said, so I don’t see where “not so” comes from.

  • Fr Gerard Barry

    Samson, I have no wish to feel myself discriminated against, nor am I unreasonable. Many Christian people are not Anglican and wouldn’t know what a verger is. If I may say so, the signs outside the Minster are enough to put many people off going beyond the steps.
    I do not believe that an entrance fee should be charged on a Church.
    I happen to believe that the state should respect its history and support its buildings. I am not an Anglican but I am happy for my taxes to be spent in this way.

  • Part-time_pilgrim

    Well the interiors have been changed to make them less Catholic. The question is about who owns them or who should own them so yes they were originally Catholic buildings and they are now possessed by the Anglican church (Not all Anglicans accept the label “Protestant”). That does not mean that they really belong to the Catholic church and that the Anglicans should “give them back”.

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    If those who despise Catholics want to call us “Romans”, should we refer to Anglicans as “Canterburians”?

    As in, “the Catholic Church build and operated many churches until the Protestant Reformation at which time the Canterburian Church appropriated them.”

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    Part-time_Pilgrim, I like your logic.

    And I have been trying to get the exact same point across to many people who make the bar for consensual sex much too low. If a girl refuses a fellow, and the fellow holds a knife to a girl’s throat or threatens to beat her until she is black and blue, or threatens to throw battery acid in her face, and she no longer resists his advances, but submits, I call that consensual sex.

    After all she consented, didn’t she?

    And call it what you like, consensual sex can never be considered rape, can it?

    Think of it, all those poor chaps rotting away in prison, because afterwards, the “poor” girl changed her mind, and ran home to Mum and Dad, crying that she was raped. A fellow has to do what a fellow has to do, right?

  • golfinggrannie

    My husband and I were  visiting York a couple of weeks ago and were horrified by the compulsory charges. How can it be right to make people pay to go into a church? This means that families with children are unlikely to visit, because of the expense (I think there was a reduced rate of £7, but I’m not sure). Museums have voluntary charges, so why not cathedrals?

  • Yashuaman

    Ah yes – The Cainite-Judeo-Christian Religion with its Temples of Baal and Astoreth. Anglican = AngliCAIN and Vatican = VatiCAIN. I wonder what happened to The Church of God which consists of people only – those called by The Father to The Son?

  • Waitamo

    Tesco don’t charge me entry, but I do give thansks to God when I get a really good deal.
    When I’m in the countryside admiring God’s creation, I worship Him, and on one charges me.
    A building is a warm dry place for the church, the people of God to meet together to worship God.
    Afterall, God is a spirit and those who worship Himmust worship Him in spirit and in truth …

  • Anonymous

    These places are returning to what they were when they were first built, not religion, when first built they were money making, then over the years they became religion, now we are back to money making.

  • theophilus

    It makes me so sad as I read the comments on this article.  The writer has raised the interesting and important question about whether to charge an  entrance fee to enter a church and he has asked for a better “witness” to our great God.  Surely these are the parts of the article of most importance. The squabbling going on in the comments must simply reinforce the non-christian perception that if God is truly love, why is this not apparent in the way “believers” spend there time talking to one another.                                                                                    

    I would love to be able to recommend visitors go the the York Minster and see this amazing testament to the faith in God of previous generations, without the embarrassment of adding, and “oh by the way it will cost you £9 to go in”.

    We have visited churches all around the UK and the world, and no matter where we go, the “non-believer” tourist treats them with reverence and the dignity they deserve.  Surely a simple donation box for the upkeep of the church building would be the most tasteful way of approaching this issue, or as one commentator to this article put it, “we could trust God to provide”  

  • Graham Vale

    Why make this article sectarian in tone?  I recall having to pay to enter the cathedral at Krakov.

  • Antonyalbertallen

    Chichester Cathedral is FREE to enter, and even the thieves that keep stealing the candles, and bibles get in free.

  • Hamish Redux

    That’s rather a despicable comment. It isn’t “sneaking in” or “pulling a fast one”, merely openly using the Minster for the purpose for which it was intended. And when I was last there, you were directed to the north door if you wanted to attend a service.

    Of course, most cathedrals will let you bypass the queue of rubber-neckers if you want to worship there. The last time I did that was to attend Vespers at Notre Dame de Paris (where they don’t charge).

  • mw

    York Minster is a church and funnily enough, if you use it as a church. (ie to go to services or to pray quietly in a chapel) you get in free. However, if you would rather treat it as a museum and go on a history tour or wander around taking photos you have to pay. 

  • Putnammjp

    All of these commentators are ignorant to the fact,and loss sight of, that when Islam is the ruling class, (just a few more years), all these magnificent buildings will fall into disrepair. They certainly will not permit a begging bowl for support. Stop the in-fighting and be a Christian.

  • N Forrest

    Having read most of the comments by all sorts of people and I am amazed by how much this valid observation on how the church makes, correction extorts money from the general public has degenerated in to the inevitable them versus us argument.
    One has to remember that most of the wars that have occured have been in the name of one religion or another, Northern Ireland for a recent example. Respondants should stick to the point, rather than trying to get one over on the other side.
    I recently went to Bath Abbey and was amazed to find a sign suggesting that you made a voluntary contribution  of £2.50 for the up keep of the builing. This was reinforced by 2 large men who looked like bouncers from a local night club sranding in the doorway. A vountary contribution is what is says, we do not need to be told what a voluntary contribution should be as it would cease to be voluntary. The men in question stopped a group of students in front of me who I could see were distressed by these 2 heavy weights, at which point I turned round and went no further.  The Abbey lost my contribution of £10 that I would have given had I had free access in the first place.
    Regardless of what variation of Christianity you believe in, a Church is a place of worship and/or a place of wonder, that God was able to instill such creativity in Man and not a money making machine.
    If the Abbot wants people to contibute to the Abbey, I would suggest a different approach.
    1 Get rid of the bouncers.
    2 Change the sign at the entrance to some think like, ” we hope you will enjoy your vist to this house of God        and  help us with its up keep by making a donation on your way out, thank you”
    3 Have some one who looks as if he/she has some connection with the Abbey hand out a leaflet whilst standing next to  the exit and the collection box. If there is a concern about some little git nicking the collection box, no doubt the 2 bouncrs coud be repositioned out of site outside the door.

  • Kihlowe

    and one is rarely asked for a donation in France ….but – most Catholic church buildings are the property of the local commune, and cathedrals and large churches are the property of the state.