THE Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand, the Rt Revd Victoria
Matthews, has spoken of the personal attacks that she has suffered
over plans to demolish the city's cathedral, which was damaged by
an earthquake (News, 4 November
Bishop Matthews has spoken of how she became the "lightning rod"
for people's anger after the series of earthquakes that destroyed
homes and the cathedral, in 2011.
In an interview with a local newspaper, she said: "It's been a
time of raw emotions right across the city. I keep saying it, but I
still believe it: you can't get angry at an earthquake. It's just
not satisfying. I know that people have been shaking their fists at
the heavens since time immemorial, but you can't kick God and you
can't kick an earthquake. You can weep and you can shout, but
you're more likely to focus on a human being, and so I've become
one of the lightning rods, and along with that has come a number of
accusations. And it's actually become quite personal."
Bishop Matthews, a Canadian, was accused on air and in print of
not understanding the people of the city. She said: "There was some
of that 'It's time that you went home.' Well, I'm here to do
something I feel called to do by God, and I do it to the best of my
ability. I'm not for a moment saying I always get it right. None of
us always get it right."
The diocese has released three separate designs for the
cathedral, including restoration, a reinterpretation of the
neo-Gothic cathedral in modern materials, and a completely new
building. Restoration of the 19th-centry cathedral would be the
most expensive option, and could take up to 22 years to complete.
Bishop Matthews would not be drawn on which was her preferred
choice. But architecture critics from around the world have
criticised the modern design, calling it "bizarre".
A senior curator of contemporary architecture at the Victoria
and Albert Museum, Kieran Long, said: "If I had to choose now, I
would strongly advocate rebuilding the original cathedral. . . It
would speak of continuity.''
A judge ruled this week that insurance money cannot be used to
build a transitional cardboard cathedral for the city.
The owners of the Cathedral, Church Property Trustees, had
earmarked up to $NZ4 million ($US3.39 million) of the insurance
payout to fund the cardboard cathedral, which is scheduled to open
late next month.