Top News

Cathedral in England opens indoor mini-putt course, Catholics tee off on the idea

The Rochester Cathedral, an hour away from London, has added a mini gold course to try and attract younger crowds and families during the summer.
The Rochester Cathedral, an hour away from London, has added a mini gold course to try and attract younger crowds and families during the summer.

Church officials at England’s second oldest cathedral have provoked outrage after installing a nine-hole mini-putt golf course in the medieval nave.

Officials said the idea was to attract more visitors to Rochester Cathedral, founded in 604 AD.

“We hope that when people come in, they will know that they’re welcome and they will have an enjoyable experience,” Rachel Phillips, canon for “mission and growth” at the cathedral, told Premier, a Christian radio station.

“So while people are here, having fun and playing crazy golf, they will take the opportunity to reflect on that wider theme of building bridges, that they might find that they would like to pray, light a candle. Maybe talk to somebody.”

But the golf course has met with anger and dismay.

Damian Thompson, former editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald, tweeted, “St John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, went to his death rather than watch his cathedral fall into the hands of greedy iconoclasts. I suspect he would rather see it lie in ruins than experience this fate.”

Fisher was beheaded in 1535 after being found guilty of treason by not recognizing Henry VIII as Supreme Head of the Church of England.

Army Chaplain Sebastian Hyatt tweeted, “Rochester cathedral’s idea of mission. So devoid of theology, and intent on making money they have forgotten ‘This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven’. Shame on you.”

Bishop Gavin Ashenden, who served as the Queen’s chaplain, told the Church Militant news website, “The sequestration of the great Roman Catholic cathedrals of our country by what became the Church of England was always fraught with conceptual and moral difficulty. It was achieved by political force and at the cost of Catholic martyrdom.

“The Church of England, suffering a reductio ad absurdum has turned its Catholic cathedrals into entertainment centres. Having lost contact with transcendence, majesty and holiness, the CofE has become a branch of the leisure and entertainment industry. Since they no longer know what a cathedral is, or what it is for, it is indeed time for them to return them to the Church that conceived, built and knows how to honour and use them.”

Catholic writer Deacon Nick Donnelly also told Church Militant, “English Catholics care for our ancient cathedrals, even if they are in the possession of the usurping Church of England. We are very aware that the Mass was celebrated at the altars of these cathedrals. What is happening at Rochester Cathedral is sacrilege against God.”

Journalist Tim Stanley, writing in The Daily Telegraph, said, “Cathedrals were designed precisely to remind you of your place in this celestial order, to make you feel small, to awe you into belief. When you stick a mini golf course in a cathedral, it doesn’t bring the community closer so much as it strips the building of its original intent and pushes God further away. It is an act of desecration.”

A Saxon cathedral was first built at Rochester on land donated by King Ethelbert, England’s first Catholic king. Justus, first Bishop of Rochester, was consecrated there by St Augustine. The present building dates back to the work of the French monk, Gundulf, in 1080.

The cathedral defended the joint stating the activity was a free and educational way to reel in younger crowds and families.

It also said the golf course did not affect services with at least three services daily.

“The adventure golf is only taking place in the Nave of the Cathedral, with other spaces available for prayer and quiet as usual,” read a tweet from cathedral officials.

The cathedral’s website states the course is not permanent, running until Sept. 1, when the cathedral will display the Knife Angel statue — a sculpture made up of 100,000 confiscated knives and dedicated to crime victims.

Meanwhile, two hours north of Rochester, Norwich Cathedral plans to set up a 17-metre high “helter skelter” tower in its place of worship for two weeks in August. The tower will sit in the nave of the cathedral, allowing people a chance to climb up for a closer look at its architecture, say officials.

“Wherever you are, or are not, on your faith journey, the space invites you just to be, to explore and encounter the space in your own way, to let it speak to both heart and soul,” reads an article on the cathedral’s website.

And Lichfield Cathedral, in the heart of England, has transformed its magnificent tiled floor into a “lunar landscape” to commemorate the moon landings 50 years ago.

• Email: | Twitter:

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

Recent Stories