Friday, October 28, 2011

Partialization of Christchurch Cathedral

From a letter from Bishop Victoria Matthews, Diocese of Christchurch, New Zealand, to her clergy this morning:

"The Cathedral, as you are aware, suffered grave damage in the Christchurch earthquakes of 26 December 2010; 22 February, 2011; and 13 June 2011. It has now been determined that in order to make the Cathedral safe for an interim period of time, for the retrieval and retention of some of the heritage aspects of the Cathedral, we have to order a controlled demolition for parts of the building. I am very aware it has been a difficult time for us all and it saddens me that I have to make this announcement. On the other hand it does mean that there will be the saving of some of the precious heritage, and also that the future Cathedral will incorporate that which is both old and new.

One consequence of this decision is that I will de-consecrate the Cathedral and return it to secular use prior to the controlled demolition. That service of de-consecration will take place on Wednesday, 9 November at at 10.00 am at the Cathedral. As the Cathedral stands in the restricted red zone, with very limited entry, we hope to air the service of de-consecration on television for those who wish to witness the de-consecration.

In closing let me say that, in God's good time, we again will have a wonderful Cathedral that is the heart of both the city and the Diocese. Until then, let me again remind all Christians that we are the church, the Body of Christ, and the Gospel we carry on our lips and in our hearts is the only Gospel many folks will ever encounter. Let us never forget that we have Good News to share. May our lives and words proclaim Christ's love and redemption where ever we go."

This announcement was due to be made to the world via the media at 11 am today, Friday 28th October, 2011.

Please read here for a stimulating, and somewhat challenging report in the Press re future options, citizen opinion, etc.

POSTSCRIPT On the other side of the world another Cathedral has had a chequered week, with good comment from Lord Carey here.


Father Ron Smith said...

I cannot help thinking that Lord Carey's contribution to the debate about the Cathedral versus the Protesters is somewhat double-tongued In one breath, he applauds the welcome given by Canon Giles Fraser to the Protesters, in the next he speaks of the '"anarchic" protesters threatening the right of people to worship'. Whose side is he really on? And does he really think either the protesters or their target audience is taken in by his rhetoric?

However, from his mention of those who 'threaten the civil liberties' of Christians, one remembers that he has recently championed the civil rights of a boarding house proprietor to discriminate against gay lodgers, by refusing them the right to stay in his lodgings.

This was one of the recent highly-publicised incidents that Lord Carey himself used as an example of his own discrimination against the 'civil rights' of gay people to enjoy the ordinary privileges of other citizens.

From this and other incidents in the U.K. recently, it is obvious that Lord Carey believes that Christians in the U.K. are being targeted for persecution by the general public. When one considers the terrible persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, and others in fundamentalist Islamic communities around the world, Carey's claim seems a little exaggerated, to say the least.

If he really cared for Justice in the Church and in the world, he would recognise the need for a more eirenic attitude toward those whose intrinsic sexuality is different, and would not support the endemic culture of homophobia and misogyny in the Church that is being challenged by the world outside.

Andrew Reid said...

Hi Peter,

I understand these continue to be difficult and challenging times for the Diocese of Christchurch, and I continue to pray for the church to bring hope and comfort to the community there, as well as having wisdom about its own buidings and property.

I just want to raise the issue of consecration and de-consecration of church buildings. Sure, we value our buildings as places of worship and visible signs of Christian communities, but do we believe that they are more holy than other places? Do we think if we are doing building work on them, we need to "take away their holiness" while that happens? It almost seems like an Old Testament perspective of God dwelling physically in the temple, rather than a New Testament perspective of God dwelliing among his people by His Spirit. I wonder if it wouldn't be better to use the language of "dedicating" a building for Christian ministry, with a service of "thanksgiving" for the ministry that has happened there if it ever stops being a Church.

My apologies if this issue is a bit sensitive for you in Christchurch - I know how central the cathedral is to the city and Anglican community there.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrew
Technically I think we are working on the fact that a 'consecrated' building needs to be 'deconsecrated.'

Your point could, however, apply to buildings in the future: should they be 'dedicated' rather than 'consecrated'? I think that is worth discussing!

Father Ron Smith said...

This question does rather make one wonder about the prevalence of 'Blessing' private yachts, etc. Or maybe even other articles or institutions that are, in this way, dedicated to private pleasure.

A Christian Church is somewhat different - being set apart for the Glory of God!