July 25, 2009

Church rejects calls to axe bishops

by Benjamin Graham

The cash-strapped Church of England has over-ruled calls from grassroots clergy to cut its salaries bill by reducing the number of bishops.

The Church’s 113 bishops cost £37,320 each per year in wages, as well as £12 million in office and working costs, and £7.9 million on upkeep for the palaces and see houses occupied by the 44 most senior bishops.

However, calls for the number of bishops to be reduced by a quarter due to the recession were dismissed by the General Synod, the Church’s decision making body.

Synod said the church needs more, not fewer, bishops to deal with an increasingly heavy workload.

Extra funding to bridge the Church’s £352 million pensions deficit – created by the credit crunch and the rising age expectancy of retired clergy – should come from worshippers in the pews, the governing body said.

In addition, clergy could be asked to work an extra three years, retiring at age 68, with an increase to the minimum service required to qualify for a full pension increasing from 40 to 43 years.

The 482 members of the General Synod are elected for five years.

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