A tale of two Churches

Comparisons between the progress made at Barbadoes St and in Cathedral Square are unhelpful, but perhaps inevitable, says an editorial in the Christchurch newspaper, The Press.

The editorial explains how public reaction to the two Churches has differed and suggest the reason can be found in their history and current use.

Since the earthquakes, debate has raged about the Anglican cathedral in the Square but there has been relatively little controversy over the fate of its Catholic counterpart.

The relative heat in discussions about the two can be judged in the number of hits for the phrases “Christ Church Cathedral” and “Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament” in the electronic archive of The Press since 2011.

The Anglican cathedral rates more than 850 mentions; the Catholic one just 150.

The editorial suggests that the positions of the two buildings in the life of the city owe much to history, and particularly to the founding of Christchurch as a supposedly model Anglican settlement, in which the cathedral of that denomination – after much delay, it must be said – eventually took the central position.

This also had the effect of bestowing the Christ Church Cathedral with a secular and civic significance which is reflected in the passionate debate over its future.

The arguments surrounding it are roughly divided between these ecclesiastic and civic factions – lately more awkwardly expressed as the “churched” and the “unchurched”.

The Catholic cathedral, on the other hand, although much admired for its architecture, was always predominantly a place of religious worship without parallel secular significance.


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News category: New Zealand.

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