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Anglican solidarity after Roman Catholic cathedral burgled

Posted on: October 17, 2016 5:18 PM
The Anglican (left) and Catholic cathedrals in Liverpool are at opposite ends of Hope Street.
Photo Credit: Gavin Drake

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Anglican cathedral in Liverpool has donated the proceeds of its visitors’ collection boxes to its Roman Catholic neighbour, whose own collection jars were destroyed by burglars. The Anglican Dean of Liverpool, the Very Revd Pete Wilcox, stressed that the donation was not an act of charity but of solidarity. The two cathedrals – at either end of Hope Street – have had a very strong relationship since the era of Bishop David Sheppard and Archbishop Derek Worlock in the Mid 1970s.

Burglars attacked the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday last week (12 October). The thieves targeted specially-commissioned glass collecting structures, made in the iconic shape of the cathedral, and damaged them beyond repair, taking their contents.

“At the Cathedral we pride ourselves on being truly open to all,” a post on its Facebook wall said. “We especially extend our welcome and support to those most in need within our community. All donations are given by members of the public who wish to see our good work continued and it is these individuals who are the real victims of today’s crime.

“On a positive note, we have been overwhelmed by the messages of support that have flooded in today. We are hugely thankful to all of those who have kindly made donations in response to what has happened. It is humbling to see something positive come from today’s events.”

The Roman Catholic Dean of Liverpool, Canon Anthony O’Brien, later described his own feelings at the burglary: “The break in to the Cathedral last week has left us all rather shocked and saddened. Not so much that someone would attempt to steal money from the collection boxes – there is nothing new in that, there have been attempts from time to time when the Cathedral has been open – but it was more the level of damage and vandalism that was caused in an effort to get what would only have been some loose change.

“The two large collection boxes in the shape of the cathedral were completely smashed. Apart from this there was damage to the relatively new aluminium and glass inner doors to the main entrance and also to the point of entry into the building.

“The collection boxes are emptied each day and the money taken off site so there is very little point in going to so much effort to break into the building. The incident happened at about 2 am and I had to negotiate through hundreds of drunken students who were pouring out of the Students Union to wait for the police so that we could enter the building together.

“It felt like I had entered into the twilight zone from a deep sleep one minute to chaotic mayhem the next.”

In response to the burglary, the Anglican Cathedral donated the contents of its own collection boxes. “We heard pretty quickly about the incident at the Metropolitan Cathedral last week,” Dean Pete Wilcox told ACNS. “Having suffered a very similar experience ourselves a few months ago, we were keen to show our solidarity.

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The Dean of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Canon Anthony O’Brien (left), receives a donation from the Very Revd Pete Wilcox, Dean of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, as a sign of gesture after the city’s Catholic cathedral was targeted by burglars

“The idea came of sending them whatever was in our own visitor donations box at a particular point in time, which coincided broadly with their theft. So we sent a very precise amount, not a round number: £910.82. And our message was that the gift was an expression of solidarity, not charity.”

The strong relationship between the two cathedrals began with the close relationship between Bishop David Sheppard and Archbishop Derek Worlock. Their period as bishops in Liverpool overlapped quite closely: Sheppard was appointed in 1975 and served until 1997; and Worlock was appointed in 1976 and served until 1996.

The two cathedrals work together on schools projects and jointly run the Hope Plus Food Bank and the Volition Employability Project. They also hold joint services several times a year when the two choirs sing together. Last Sunday the two choirs combined at the Anglican cathedral for a joint Friends of Cathedral Music Evensong.

The roman catholic cathedral said that it was “overwhelmed” by the donation from the Anglican cathedral, describing it as “a moving gesture of friendship and solidarity.”