Dean quit as bishop made job 'untenable'

23:34, Dec 08 2011
Dean Peter Beck and Bishop Victoria Matthews
"ALL'S NOT WELL": Dean Peter Beck and Bishop Victoria Matthews clashed over the Christ Church Cathedral's fate.

Dean Peter Beck's position was made "untenable" by Bishop Victoria Matthews as they clashed over the future of Christ Church Cathedral, senior Anglican figures say.

Beck announced his resignation from the cathedral on Wednesday to contest a Christchurch City Council seat in a by-election.

A senior member of the cathedral broke ranks yesterday, criticising Matthews and questioning if she should remain as bishop.

Haydn Rawstron is a member of the cathedral's Canons Almoner group, which includes high-profile Christchurch figures such as Sir Miles Warren, Lady Stewart, Humphry Rolleston and Lady Isaac.

"Bishop Matthews of Christchurch seems to be flying in the face of public opinion on the question of Christ Church Cathedral's future and, among other apparent serious misjudgments, seems now to have made untenable the position of the brilliantly competent cathedral dean, Peter Beck," he wrote in a letter to The Press.

"Technically speaking, how could Canterbury rid itself of a bishop, were that bishop adjudged to make serious errors of judgment in the province's post-earthquake situation?"


The cathedral's website describes the Canons Almoner group as "people of sound standing in the community with a genuine interest in this iconic building and its life in the city".

A person close to Beck, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the dean and Matthews disagreed over fundraising tactics for the rebuild.

Matthews believed money should be raised for all Anglican churches damaged in the quake, rather than just the cathedral, the source said.

"Why would a very good dean step down like this? You could argue that not all is well," the source said.

"It gets to a point where [the relationship] gets too hard. It just isn't working ... There is not a war, but he [Beck] just feels he can't express himself as the dean. I think that might be part of it."

Beck yesterday declined to elaborate on the rift but acknowledged "there have been differences between me and the bishop, but they are between me and the bishop".

"We live in very difficult times and people have different opinions. Frankly, it has been tough for everyone in the last six months," he said.

He resigned as he "can help the most at the council table".

Matthews has also been criticised by an international expert who offered free fundraising services for the cathedral, but was rejected.

Graeme Brady, of Compton Fundraising, raised money for British cathedrals at Westminster, Ely, Liverpool and Salisbury. He also helped raise $8 million for Christ Church Cathedral in 2006.

He offered free fundraising services for the cathedral, but was rejected by Matthews.

"We have a long success story, so I was very angry because our staff had spent an awful lot of time [on the proposal] when their own houses had been wrecked in the quake," he said.

"She was quite dismissive of the offer and quite dismissive of our expertise."

Matthews, who is on Anglican Church business in South Korea, declined to respond to the criticism.

The Press