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Decision on Catholic churches in Canterbury months away

24 February 2012

Decision on Catholic churches in Canterbury still months away

The fate of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and several other Catholic churches in Canterbury will not be known for several months.

With insurance negotiations still on-going, the diocese is in the early stages of preparing a strategic plan on the number and location of churches to be built in the future. This will later be presented to Bishop Barry Jones for consideration.

Lance Ryan, chairman of the Cathedral Management Board, said that the board is in full support of the plan as it was essential that all churches in the diocese are considered and not just the Cathedral.

“The planning group needs to consult with a wide range of people throughout the diocese while also looking at the changes that have occurred to the city’s population demographics.

“All these factors, as well as establishing the status of all insurance claims, need to be known before a comprehensive report can be completed,” he said.

While this plan is being considered, work on the Basilica continues.

“We are really looking at three options - whether to demolish the existing building, to retain what we can of the Basilica and rebuild to its former glory, or, in the short-term, whether or not to mothball the building until we have a clearer picture.

“Early indications are that the costs of retaining and rebuilding the Basilica are in the vicinity of $100 million. The nave is the only part of the existing building that could be retained, but it will still need extensive reinforcing to bring it up to the required standard.”

The board is having costs prepared for the removal of the large organ and also the stained glass windows.

“This is a frustrating time for all, but we must ensure we work wisely. The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is only one piece of the diocesan jigsaw, and until we know all the pieces and the community has been consulted, we are reluctant to move with any haste.

“Getting it right is everyone’s first priority,” he said.

ENDS

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