Christchurch Super Cathedral

Quake ravaged Christchurch is certainly under change if plans form into substance! Since the Anglican and Roman Catholic Cathedrals were both badly damaged in the February 2011 earthquakes that rocked Christchurch, the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch has identified an 'Anglican hope' to replace both buildings with one super-Cathedral as a 'cost effective solution.'1 Catholic leaders have shown less enthusiasm for the concept so far.

Rebuilding Christchurch's two wounded cathedrals into one 'unprecedented' Anglican-Catholic super-cathedral is under discussion at top levels in the Anglican Church but Christchurch's Bishop Victoria Matthews is reluctant to discuss this controversial proposal publicly for fear that it would kill the possibility.2

The super-Cathedral concept would have wider implications than just building materials. If given the green light, it would bring the Catholics and Anglicans together under the same cathedral roof for the first time, worldwide, since the churches split in the 16th century.2

The Sunday Star-Times suggests that the possibility of the ecumenical, or joint, cathedral to unify the two churches has been discussed behind closed doors for months. But this will surely bring about worldwide ramifications.2 Why? Well it does much more than save building costs on a financial level. If the idea becomes a reality, it would be a step in reversing 478 years of separation from Rome including the years of European Reformation history (taken from 1534 when Henry VIII severed connections with Rome).1

Perhaps this whole possibility is more serious than what meets the eye on the surface. Despite a lack of communication between the two churches, it appears Anglican leaders are creating fertile ground for the dialogue. Less than two weeks ago, New Zealand’s Anglican Archbishop David Moxon invited English Catholic Professor Paul Murray from Durham University's Department of Theology to speak at public meetings around New Zealand about bridging the gaps within Christianity.

In Christchurch, Catholic Bishop Barry Jones and Anglican Bishop Victoria Matthews attended the meeting in which the professor challenged the two churches to set aside their differences in order to learn from one another and heal together.

After the lecture, Murray told media he had not heard the idea of a joint cathedral being raised in Christchurch but if it was built, it would be an 'iconic, powerful and unprecedented symbol'.

The earthquakes have already ignited a spirit of co-operation between Anglican and Catholics in Christchurch, Matthews added. Three churches, two Anglican and one Catholic, have already allowed the other denomination to worship on their site although the services are held separately, she said.

'It's fair to say there are many individuals in the diocese who would welcome the idea," Matthews said, adding that while the Christ Church Cathedral demolition was before the High Court, the 'delicate conversation' had been put on hold.2

1. NZ Protestant, Jul-Dec 2012 issue;  2.