`Houses alone are not enough' Cardinal Heenan
By Michael Duggan Clifton Cathedral, the first cathedral to be built in the West Country since the Great War, was solemnly opened and consecrated in Bristol on Friday, June 29, in the presence of a 1,000-strong congregation.
Dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul on their feast day, the new building is the first cathedral the Diocese of Clifton has had in 123 years' history. It replaces the nearby Pro-Cathedral in Bristol, completed in 1848, which was no longer considered to be structurally sound.
Representatives from all walks of life, including the Anglican Bishops of Bristol, Bath and Wells, Salisbury and Malmesbury, local M.P.s and civic leaders,. packed the Cathedral for the threehour ceremony of consecration.
At 11.00 a.m. 31 bishops and archbishops in golden chasubles, preceded by the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Enrici, Cardinal Heenan, processed solemnly to the font, where Bishop Rudderham of Clifton. blessed the baptismal water.
Then, to the roll of drums and a chorus of "Alleluia" from the choir of 70, the Bishop completed his entry into the Cathedral by walking between richly colourful tiers of clergy and bishops to take possession of the bishop's chair. As he sat down the congregation broke into applause. In a homily which followed the readings, Cardinal Heenan attacked critics of the Cathedral. He said: "In what Weal] the ages of faith all England would rejoice at the opening of each glorious cathedral. The ages of faith have gone. Today, when many of our friends no longer believe in God they naturally do not rejoice over the building of a new church. Their outlook is reasonable.
"It is less easy to understand why Christians oppose the building of new churches. They contend that no new churches should be erected in this country while there are still families without houses. They, nevertheless, have no objection to new public houses, sports clubs, dance halls and television studios. "The Church must think of the spiritual as well as the bodily needs of families. Man has a soul as well as a body ... Houses alone are not enough . . .
"It is worth remarking that those who make sacrifices to build churches are the very ones who provide houses for homeless families. It happens that the cost of this cathedral has come not from public appeals but from the generosity of a few benefactors. Onlookers crowded at the doors to catch a glimpse of the consecration ceremony, during which relics of St. Pius X were sealed into the altar.
The ceremony reached its climax with celebration of the Eucharist, followed by procession of the Blessed Sacrament to a side chapel.
Clifton Cathedral is one of the fastest ever built. Bishop Rudderham laid the foundation stone in September, 1970, and work was completed in May, 1973. Diocesan authorities estimate the total cost of the building. its site and furnishing to be in the region of £800,000.