Bishop at odds with some over cathedral's future

10:06 pm on 9 December 2011

The Bishop of Christchurch appears to be seriously at odds with some parishioners over the fate of ChristChurch Cathedral.

The Anglican Church is staying silent about reports of internal divisions over the future of the cathedral, after revelations the building has suffered far more damage as a result of the February quake than first thought.

The divisions were raised after the resignation of the Dean of the Cathedral Peter Beck earlier this week.


A spokesperson for the dioceses of Christchurch won't comment on reports the Right Reverend Beck wants to save the church and resigned after clashing with Bishop Victoria Matthews on the issue.

Haydn Rawstron, a member of the cathedral's Canons Almoner group which includes high- profile supporters of the church, questions whether Bishop Matthews should continue in her role.

Bishop Matthews, originally from Canada, has said ChristChurch Cathedral should be rebuilt with a new design, instead of staying true to the church's original plans.

But Mr Rawstron says the bishop has failed to grasp the significance of the cathedral to Cantabrians - and this has not been helped by the fact she has come from overseas.

"She's not listening and she probably has her own religious political agenda - and that's very sad in a place as special as Canterbury.

"If she cannot relate to Cantabrianism as Cantabrians want her to, then she must make that decision as to whether she's better suited here or better somewhere where she is prepared to commune with the cultural heritage of the place she is."

Mr Rawstron says Bishop Matthews has turned down generous donations from within New Zealand and overseas to repair the cathedral because of her preference for money to be spent on churches damaged elsewhere in the city.

A spokesperson for the dioceses of Christchurch told Radio New Zealand Bishop Matthews is overseas and will comment when she returns next week.

However, he stressed that any decisions made about ChristChurch Cathedral are being made by a committee, after consultation and debate.

The spokesperson says the cathedral has more damage than first thought, but there is no thought, right now, that it will be demolished.