Letter: Cathedral finances

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I AM astonished to read on your front page ("16 cathedrals invest in arms firms", 23 March) that Southwark Cathedral is amongst those whom you allege hold shares in arms firms. The very small financial reserve we do have is not invested in the arms trade. You should be aware that cathedrals act in their own right independently of diocesan finances, and have done so since the Reformation. The allegations refer to diocesan holdings and not to those of the cathedral.

You also quote Paul Flynn MP saying that contributors for a roof will be alarmed to find their money invested in the arms trade. The law is perfectly clear - money for the roof goes towards the roof. If any church were to divert designated donations they would be acting illegally.

In this diocese of 2.5 million people and 378 Anglican churches, just one parish has shares in a bequest trust fund invested with GEC, which diocesan authorities drew to the parish's attention some months ago. This is a matter for the trustees in that parish to decide upon and not for the diocese.

The finances of English cathedrals are open to public scrutiny and they invest according to strict ethical investment codes of practice. It is for your readers to judge whether they trust cathedrals more than newspapers.

The Very Rev COLIN SLEE

Provost, Southwark Cathedral

London SE1St Chad's Cathedral

Birmingham

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