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World News

Canterbury Cathedral accused of ‘ignoring God in His own house’

by Donna Birrell

Canterbury Cathedral has said silent discos being held in its building will not turn into a “rave in the nave”.

The events, being held Thursday and Friday night, have sold out at £25 per head and more than 3000 people are expected to attend with alcohol being served on the premises.

More than 1500 people have signed a petition opposing the cathedral’s decision to hold the events and on Thursday evening a prayer vigil will be held outside the building.

Dr Cajetan Skowronski who organised the petition and vigil told Premier: “It’s about the use of places. Hospitals are for healing, schools are for learning, nightclubs are for clubbing and cathedrals are for worshipping and glorifying God.

“So for the current guardians of the cathedrals to be inviting in completely secular discos is completely ignoring God in his own house. It’s also ignoring the heritage of Christians down the centuries who have put their blood sweat and tears into building and maintaining it as a house of God, as a holy place.

“The nave is only a few steps away from where St. Thomas Beckett was martyred trying to preserve the sanctity of the cathedral of the church against secular forces. So the place that his brains were spilled out onto the flagstones is going to be the same place that someone spills an over-priced rum and coke tonight.

“It’s a very sad state of affairs to be in and we're making a stand at Canterbury Cathedral, because it is the mother church for Anglicans, but also very important for all Christians.”

In a statement to Premier the Dean of Canterbury Very Rev David Monteith said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming all those who will be coming to this week’s retro silent disco in the Nave. Cathedrals have always been part of community life in a way much wider than their prime focus as centres of Christian worship and mission, and whether people choose to come to Canterbury Cathedral primarily as worshippers, sightseers, or attendees at our events – which include classical concerts, light and sound installations, and craft workshops – it’s always joyous to see them discover this incredible place anew and on their own terms.

“Whilst dancing of all different kinds has happened in the Cathedral over the centuries - and The Bible memorably celebrates the gift of dancing with King David dancing before the Lord (2 Samuel 6) – there are many different views on the secular and the sacred. Our 90s-themed silent disco will be appropriate to and respectful of the Cathedral – it is categorically not a ‘rave in the nave’ - but I appreciate that some will never agree that dancing and pop music have a place within cathedrals.”

 Silent discos are also being held at other cathedrals this month – including at Ely, Chelmsford and Guildford. Cathedrals across the country have also been diversifying in order to bring people through their doors, including at Norwich Cathedral which installed a full-size helter-skelter to attract children and young people.

Truro Cathedral attracted some criticism after its decision to host a masked ball at New Year for the second year running. It included fire-breathers and stilt walkers plus the sale of alcohol. 

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