Canterbury tells NZ Anglicans to let go of the past

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s advice to New Zealand Anglicans to let go of their nostalgia for the earthquake damaged Christchurch Cathedral and build a new structure in keeping with the aesthetics of the modern era has drawn sharp criticism from activists. Speaking to reporters last week in Auckland during his two-day visit to New Zealand, the Most Rev. Justin Welby declined to address the controversy over the rebuilding of Christchurch Cathedral, but offered general observations instead. “My instinct is to favour a radical view. Rebuilds have to be 20th century rebuilds, not pastiches of previous buildings,” he said, offering Coventry Cathedral as an example. “A cathedral is there to serve the people, not the people the cathedral. Sometimes we turn buildings into ideals. It’s not to be the main focus of our efforts.” Great Christchurch Buildings Trust member the Rev. Graeme Brady said that though the story of Coventry Cathedral’s rebuilding was moving, aesthetically it was a “concrete mess.” He noted that Coventry “really is an awful city. For the archbishop to hold up Coventry as an example is strange. He’s obviously shooting from the hip.” The Great Christchurch Buildings Trust has launched a campaign to restore the cathedral to its former glory. However, a spokesman for the diocese told Radio New Zealand the diocese would tear down the old cathedral and build a contemporary church in its place. “The church property trustees have made their decision. They’ve opted for a modern concept. The courts have said that it is the church property trustees’ right to decide and then to act upon those decisions,” said Jayson Rhodes. “And so the decision has been made, and today’s campaign isn’t going to change anything for us.”

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