Christchurch Anglicans and Catholics should unite under one cathedral, says former Attorney-General

A former National cabinet minister has called on Christchurch Anglicans and Roman Catholics to unite under one cathedral and save the Canterbury capital millions of dollars.

Former Attorney-General Chris Finlayson, who recently published his political memoir Yes, Minister, spoke at The Piano in central Christchurch on Saturday 3 September.

Finlayson, a Roman Catholic who believes in life after death, said: “They only needed one cathedral in Christchurch and the Anglicans and Catholics should get along” as the Anglo-Catholics’ and Roman Catholics’ belief systems were not that different.

He lamented the loss of heritage the Roman Catholic Basilica on Barbadoes Street [the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament] represented.

“I am very pleased your cathedral [ChristChurch Cathedral in Cathedral Square] is being rebuilt but the better one [the basilica] was demolished.”

However, to build two cathedrals was “a shocking waste of money and we should try to be ecumenical [promote unity within the Christian movement]”.

The reinstatement of ChristChurch Cathedral in the square has been costed at $154 million while the planned Catholic Cathedral has a price tag of $40 million and is part of a central Christchurch Catholic complex which has an estimated total cost of $100 million. The Catholic complex is under development in a block bordered by Colombo, Armagh and Manchester streets and Oxford Terrace.

Upon being pressed by event moderator and broadcaster Kim Hill on same-sex marriage, Finlayson said marriage should not be regulated and he supported civil unions for all.

“We should do away with state-sanctioned marriage.”

Finlayson said he was a man of faith and attended church but “I don’t always listen to the sermon” before adding that the most memorable sermon he had heard in his church-going life had the line: “Let’s have some silence.”

In response to a query about rugby, perhaps New Zealand’s alternative religion, Finlayson admitted to praying for heavy rain on many Friday nights and that his involvement in the sport never went beyond the Onslow Super Midgets.

And of his spiritual future once he departs this mortal coil? “I will probably be in Purgatory for 20 years [imposed] for a lack of charity but then probably will go upstairs.”

Further reading

Note that Christchurch City Libraries' has ordered several copies of historian Edmund Bohan's new book, Heart of the City: The Story of Christchurch's Controversial Cathedral. It is scheduled to be launched next month.

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