Residentiary canons have objected strongly to proposals about their position, status, and accountability, prompting the Cathedral Working Group to reiterate its view that it is “essential” that deans have oversight of their work.
The final report of the group, published this week, also contains a warning from the Church Commissioners that they cannot bail out cathedrals that find themselves in debt.
The working group was set up last year by the Archbishops’ Council after the episcopal Visitation of Peterborough Cathedral, where a cash-flow crisis led to the involvement of the Church Commissioners, forcing out the Dean and making several staff redundant (News, 13 April 2017).
Its draft report, published in January, celebrated cathedrals as “an attractive brand, often understood better by the wider community than by the Church”, but warned that “serious governance mistakes” had been made, and concluded that legislative change was needed to correct “inadequacies” in their regulation (News, 19 January).
The relationship between deans and residentiary canons came under scrutiny: the group expressed concern that the latter could “function with a degree of unhelpful independence from either the collegial vision of the Chapter or the line management of the dean”. One of the findings at the Visitation at Exeter Cathedral was “poor communication and divisions among and between the Dean and Residentiary Canons” (News, 23 September 2016).