Engineering reports expected in March will help decide the fate of New Zealand’s earthquake-wracked Christchurch Cathedral. Thanks to relentless aftershocks, the cathedral “is slowing rocking itself to death,” according to its project manager.
In a statement this week-close to the one-year anniversary of the first devastating quake-Bishop Victoria Matthews said the worsening of the building’s condition “has set back our decision-making about the future of the cathedral.”
The cathedral was further damaged by quakes just before Christmas. “The December 23 earthquakes came just as we were finalizing the assessment and interim ‘make safe’ plans for it,” she said.
Bishop Matthews further stated that safety must be the church’s primary focus. “Buildings, however dear to our heart and beautiful, are secondary to our concern for people. At this time we are especially aware of those who suffered injuries on February 22, 2011 and the families of those who died on that tragic day…
“We are also aware that the church is people and not buildings. The proclamation of the Gospel and the ministry and mission of the Kingdom are carried out by people empowered by the spirit of God.”
She said the peer-reviewed engineering and heritage re-assessments will help determine realistic options for the cathedral’s future and will be shared with the public. “The diocese of Christchurch promises to work with the people of Christchurch-Canterbury as we recover together. We are a resurrection people. No amount of death and destruction will defeat us.”