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Anglicans talk of super-cathedral

Sunday 9 Sep 2012 10:33 a.m.

Christchurch Bishop Victoria Matthews  (file)

Christchurch Bishop Victoria Matthews (file)

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Anglicans in Christchurch are talking about rebuilding a shared super-cathedral with Catholics, a move that would be unprecedented worldwide.

Christchurch Bishop Victoria Matthews has confirmed the controversial idea has been discussed informally but is reluctant to speak publicly for fear of killing the possibility.

"There are conversations about this going on, but those conversations are with ourselves," she told Fairfax Media.

The idea had not been raised officially and had yet to be broached with Catholic leaders.

"It's fair to say there are many individuals in the diocese who would welcome the idea," Bishop Matthews said, adding that while the ChristChurch Cathedral demolition was before the High Court, the "delicate conversation" had been put on hold.

If approved, it would bring Catholics and Anglicans together under the same cathedral roof for the first time in the world since the churches split in the 16th century.

The earthquakes, which also devastated the Catholic Basilica in the central city, had already ignited a spirit of co-operation between the denominations, Bishop Matthews said, with three churches allowing the other denomination to worship separately on their site.

New Zealand's Anglican Archbishop David Moxon said he had not spoken officially about the idea with Bishop Matthews, but said they had communicated by email when someone within his clergy suggested the city should rebuild only one cathedral.

Long-time Anglican Michael Earle asked how the two Christian churches could justify spending millions to repair or rebuild both broken cathedrals, when they were suffering dwindling congregations before the quakes hit.

"How is it in the best interests of the poorest people of our community to rebuild them both? We have a God-given opportunity to do something different here."

Catholic leaders, however, are already pouring cold water on the proposal.

Christchurch's Catholic Bishop Barry Jones struggled to visualise how the two church groups could combine into one building.

"The really important part is that a cathedral is the bishop's church by definition and how you would have a building that would serve as a church of two bishops, I don't know and I can't imagine it."


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