A CHURCH spokesman has rebutted suggestions that the Diocese of Truro should use central funds to meet a shortfall of more than £1m, rather than ask for more donations.
The Bishop of St Germans, the Right Reverend Chris Goldsmith, recently announced that the organisation is facing a shortfall in the next financial year, and that Anglican churchgoers in Cornwall donate 20 per cent less than those in any other diocese in England – around £5.80 per week, compared with a national average of £8.40.
In a financial report, the bishop said the church could cover its costs for 2015, but after that "it would be irresponsible for the situation to continue".
However, after the story was reported on the West Briton's website and Facebook page, critics argued that the church should use its own assets and investments to fund the shortfall, rather than asking for more from the public.
Alan Walker, of Camborne, posted: "The Church of England is big business, they have over £1.2 billion in stocks and shares, biggest landlord in the country, owning as much again in property. I think the church can more than afford to look after itself!"
Another reader, Andrew Jones, of Falmouth, posted: "The fact that they have said we give less than the national average says it all for me, why don't they use some of the hundreds of millions that's donated to the church every year from all over the world?? Always been the same, blag others for money to 'help the poor' and then spend it on themselves and invest it in other places to make yet more money."
In response to the comments, a spokesman for the Diocese of Truro, David Watson said: "Although on paper the Church of England may appear to be a 'rich' organisation, particularly in terms of its buildings, there are strict rules governing the sale of these assets and where the proceeds of these sales may be used.
"Representatives from the Diocese of Truro have been lobbying strongly for root and branch reform of this church legislation; to make it much easier for dioceses to convert redundant property assets into funds that support the immediate needs of practical mission and ministry. One member of the team is on the C of E's revision committee tasked with finding a solution."
Mr Watson added that the provision of training, housing and pensions for priests accounts for more than three quarters of expenditure and that they do not receive any government funding towards the upkeep of the 300-plus listed church buildings that are available for local communities and visitors alike.