As workmen inside the cathedral gave a final polish to the tabernacle on the eve of the consecration ceremony, 40 supporters of Christians for a Just World gathered on the Cathedral steps to hold an all-night vigil.
The watchers, who broke off the vigil more than three hours before the opening ceremony to avoid confrontation. handed out leaflets which called on Church leaders to plan building schemes ecumenically. to consult members of the Church fully before embarking on major enterprises, and to examine the way in which gifts of money from the rich, however well meant, had been acquired. The poor and the hungry, the leaflet went on, should come before new buildings.
A spokesman for the group, Mr. James Pitt. explained: "It's not a protest, not a demonstration. The Cathedral is built. We are not against the authorities of Clifton Diocese. To criticise people is irrelevant and wrong. We are using this occasion to ask all Christians what their priorities really are.
"Is this building necessary? There is so much undcrused Church space in the area that if there had been liaison with other denominations it's quite possible it would have been unnecessary.
"A more fundamental question • is: should the Church have money? Should it be a poor Church? It is ridiculous to say one person has the answers. But we're trying to ask questions.
"I just hope people don't see it as a personal protest against the Diocese or the Bishop. It's not. If we can prevent this happening again the whole thing will have been worthwhile."
Mgr. Thomas Hughes, Parish Priest of the Cathedral, which has a weekly Mass attendance of about 2,000, replied to these criticisms:
"We set out to decorate and restore the Pro-Cathedral. It was going to cost £120,000 nine years ago to make the walls and roof safe without touching the outside of the Church. We were going to go on with this.
"At this stage I reported to business people. I went to people to ask for money. They said 'Why not build a new church?' This money was offered to us if we would build a new church for Clifton — it was not to be given for schools, for example. "
Could the money spent on the Cathedral not have been better employed? Mgr. Hughes replied: "I think money spent on ointment for the feet of Our Lord would have been well-spent on the poor. I think money spent on you to interview me would have been better given to a man at Bristol Templemead station. By building a decent parish church for a lively community more will be done than any other way of spending money."
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