No I am not talking about St Paul's Cathedral, London, centre of the world's cathedralic attention this week. Rather, a bold headline on the front page of the Christchurch Press today says, 'Cera [earthquake authority] gives cathedral ultimatum.' Just hours after Bishop Victoria and Dean Peter told the world in a press conference last Friday that the cathedral would be partially demolished, Cera issued a full demolition order.
So the questions include whether the engineers are advising Dean and Chapter and Cera well or poorly,* why this seems a surprise, given that the partial demolition announcement was a response to Cera concerns, and whether the collective of city council, Cera, government, and diocese are reading the mood of the city well?
Are we a city which will not be at peace till we are told the cathedral will be rebuilt stone by stone to achieve its former iconic glory? Would a bold new design, however much of the old it incorporates, be the will and desire of the people? How would we know what we want without public discussion? Is it a matter for public discussion?
At root, the cathedral is a diocesan property on diocesan land for which repairs, maintenance and insurance have been the responsibility of the church and not the civic authorities (although the civic authorities in recent years have contributed generously to those costs): but who is in charge of its future? Church (legally) or people (effectively)?
The drama has gone up some notches!
*Some of us are experiencing engineering advice in Christchurch as varying from day to day. Until recently I worked in a building deemed 'safe' by engineers. Then, out of the blue, the engineers said the building was unsafe, recalculations on their part telling them the building fell below the line of safety according to the (often changing) building code.