The acting dean of Peterborough Cathedral has strongly defended the decision to host a BMW launch event in the Nave.
In a lengthy statement on the cathedral’s website, Canon Jonathan Baker said many first-time visitors had been “bowled over” by the experience and said they will return.
He stated: “Careful thought went into considering beforehand whether this event was appropriate in the cathedral, and boundaries were set out.
“The event was confined to the Nave, and the behaviour of everyone was at all times respectful. For example, no sales took place. One thing which the BMW event demonstrated powerfully is that God and the world do not belong in separate compartments.
“If Jesus is Lord at all, then he is Lord of BMW as well as of Peterborough Cathedral.”
He added: “We do not believe that God can be contaminated by the presence of a new car and we do not need to be anxious about allowing faith and commerce to come together; on the contrary, it is important for the health of both that they do.”
The cathedral has been struggling financially and announced last month the loss of a dozen jobs, although most were people leaving due to retirement or other opportunities.
Canon Baker said that “some have accused the cathedral of encouraging the worship of Mammon [money] which is a serious charge.”
In response to that, he said the cathedral regularly hosts non-religious events.
He added “We aim simply to offer hospitality, in keeping with our Benedictine roots, and often charge for the privilege. There is no clear reason why the business community should not be welcomed in the same way.
“To give an example, the RAF band will again be giving a concert of secular (and probably military) music, but no one has so far suggested that we are encouraging the worship of Mars, the god of war.
“In the same way, buying and selling goes on in Peterborough Cathedral all the time without any hint of Mammon being favoured.
“There is a shop in the cathedral, open six days a week. There is a Fair Trade stall after the Eucharist every month. We host exhibitions of art work and take a commission on every sale.
“Concerns are hardly ever raised about any of this.”
Canon Baker said similar events will not be held regularly in order to keep the cathedral a “special place.”