Thursday, February 16, 2012

They shoot horses, don't they?

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.


bls said...

Good luck to you all; I'll say a prayer for you tonight.

RMBIV said...

I hate situations like this - sentimental attachment to an object, monumental repairs needed... by some measure it would have been 'better' if the earthquake(s) had totally destroyed the structure.

In any case, as a former resident of Wellington, my heart goes out to you.

Father Ron Smith said...

With comments being made by certain 'influential Lay-people' here in Christchurch - against the desire of the Bishop to put people's safety before buildings - there would appear to be a basic lack of understanding of our Bishop's immediate concern.

While it would be nice to be able to secure a quick decision in favour of a substantial re-build of a Gothic structure; engineers - who know about these things - have advised that further quakes may yet be experienced that may influence the outcome of any attempt to 'get on with the job' of re-building.

Impatience in not a virtue - especially in the light of reality.
The original building is still in a state of flux, and the only action that could realistically be taken at the present time would be an attempt to demolish dangerously compromised parts of the building.

Cost-wise, it would seem that any attempt to re-build in the original style might be prohibitive. That being said; there has to be a proper seismic risk survey taken in order to assess the best possible outcome - for demolition, part-demolition, or clearance of the site. Safety is paramount.

My own personal opinion would be that the 'Cardboard Cathedral' should be granted a site by the City council, and erection should begin as soon as possible - while heads cool and sanity is restored.

In the meantime, there are other concerns for City Churches - not all of which are Anglican.

Suem said...

I can see that this will all cause enormous work, cost and the potential for a lot of heartbreak and conflict. I shall pray that you are all given sense, grace and vision in making and carrying out the decisions that lie ahead of you.

Peter Carrell said...

Thank you Suem!