Cathedral to be demolished

Bishop Victoria Matthews has announced:

Dear Friends,

I am writing to inform you of last evenings meeting and the decision reached about the next step for our beloved Cathedral.

The Standing Committee and Church Property Trustees voted to bring the ChristChurch Cathedral down to a safe level. This is understood to be between two and three meters in height with some parts of the walls necessarily being lower for safety reasons. This means the footprint will be preserved but that there will be extensive controlled demolition and controlled deconstruction. For reasons of safety and the likelihood of ongoing seismic activity, we will not be preserving any of the walls intact. What this plan does allow is the safe retrieval of taonga and heritage items from the ruins. To give one example, we anticipate the safe retrieval of the remaining stained glass windows over the next couple of months. The process of bringing down the Cathedral to a safe level will take most of the balance of the year.

This is very different from the plan presented last October, due to the seismic events of 23 December. CERA has insisted that we present a new plan to ensure the building is safe and we agree with their requirement.

I am sad to have to relay this decision but I believe it is the way forward. There are of course other voices and alternative opinions but I have relayed to you the decision of the Cathedral Project Group, which is the group that has the delegated authority to make recommendations about the future of the Cathedral to the Cathedral Chapter, CPT and Standing Committee. The decision was made with much prayer and deliberation and has the support of each of the various groups. It is also the decision that has the highest support from CERA for safety reasons. The demolition and deconstruction will be carried our with care and great respect for a wonderful sacred space that has been damaged beyond repair.

My prayers and the prayers of many around the world are with you at this time. It is now up to all of us to show that we are the living Cathedral of Christchurch; and that we carry within us and live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherever we go and wherever we are. In the midst of this sad outcome let us not neglect to witness to the hope within us due to Gods love, grace and mercy.

In Christ,

A very sad decision, but arguably an inevitable one.

I quite like the suggestion one person made which is to turn the ruins into the central memorial for the earthquakes, and a tourist attraction – and build an entirely new cathedral next to it.

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