Our cathedral here in Christchurch is in very, very serious trouble. Our diocese this week is mounting an intense campaign to get the word out about how seriously and terminally ill the cathedral is after the shakes of September 2010, December 2010, February 2011, June 2011 and, finally to date, December 2011. Bishop Victoria Matthews has appeared on Campbell Live (TV3), one of two premier current news and views slots on free to air TV here. Today our Christchurch Press is carrying a half page advertisement which includes a letter from +Victoria and pictures of the damaged interior and exterior of the cathedral. An article based on the advertisement is here.
When a horse is dying, can scarcely walk let alone trot or gallop, serious consideration is given to shooting it, to put it out of its misery. Dead horses cannot be resurrected but deconstructed cathedrals can be rebuilt stone by stone. As I interpret what is being said in the advertisement and in Bishop Victoria's media interviews this week, the decision the relevant diocesan authorities have to make when the full engineering reports are made available next month is not whether the cathedral should be put out of its present misery. It is so dangerous it will need, at a minimum, significant deconstruction before anything can be done in order that every worker on and around the site is safe. The significant decision these authorities will need to make is what the future should hold by way of a stone-by-stone restorative rebuild (very unlikely as +Victoria indicated on a National Radio interview yesterday as the costs could be in the region of $100m above insurance) or a partial retention of the sturdier bits of the cathedral built into a new edifice or a new build in a complete manner (and could or should that be some kind of replica, say, in wood (as one local cleric is arguing) to overcome people's fear of re-entering the building, or another design altogether).
That is a lot of deciding to do.