Welby urges radical design for cathedral

The world's most senior Anglican bishop has a message for those fighting to salvage the Christ Church Cathedral damaged by earthquakes: Use your imaginations and do not cling to the past.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was in Auckland this week for a largely private two-day visit in which he gave two public services.

He would not comment specifically on the Christ Church Cathedral as he didn't know exactly what was happening there. However, in general terms he said his instinct was to take a radical view.

"A cathedral is there to serve the people, not the people [to serve] the cathedral. Sometimes we turn buildings into ideals. It's not to be the main focus of our efforts."

He pointed to the Coventry Cathedral in England as an example of the imagination people in Canterbury could aspire to.

Coventry has had three cathedrals over the centuries and the ruins of those destroyed by time and war have been incorporated in a new building. Everyone looked at what had been done in Coventry and was awed by the imagination at work there, he said.

"My instinct is to favour a radical view. Rebuilds have to be 20th century rebuilds, not pastiches of previous buildings."

He said the people of Christchurch needed to "be exciting and be brave".

He told the city not to "be boring".

The archbishop studied history and law before working in the oil industry. He left that in 1989 to train for ministry.

The Press