Anglicans in Christchurch are talking about sharing a cathedral with the Catholics, a move that would have worldwide ramifications.
Rebuilding Christchurch’s two wounded cathedrals into one ‘unprecedented’ Anglican-Catholic super-cathedral is under discussion at top levels in the Anglican Church.
The Sunday Star-Times understands the possibility of an ecumenical, or joint, cathedral to unify the two churches has been discussed behind closed doors for months.
If given the green light, it would bring the Catholics and Anglicans together under the same cathedral roof for the first time in the world since the churches split in the 16th century.
Christchurch’s Bishop Victoria Matthews was reluctant to speak publicly about the controversial idea for fear it would ‘kill the possibility’. But she confirmed she had informally discussed it with local Anglicans.
‘There are conversations about this going on, but those conversations are with ourselves,’ she said.
The idea had not been raised officially within Christchurch’s Anglican Diocese, was yet to be broached with the city’s Catholic leaders and was currently only an Anglican ‘hope’.
‘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.
‘It’s something that I would love to be able to discuss, but at this point we can’t. We have to wait for this thing to get out of the courts before it even becomes a good conversation.’
Matthews said the Anglican Church would patiently wait for the ‘right moment’, rather than ‘raising the question at the wrong moment and it’s dead in the water’. If the super-cathedral was accepted it had the ‘potential of being huge’ for Christianity worldwide, not just Christchurch.
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…