The Catholic church’s Christchurch diocese today announced it will rebuild a new cathedral on the same site of the earthquake damaged Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.

The decision is a major U-turn for the diocese, which was planning to build a new cathedral at a different site in the centre of the city on land it purchased for millions of dollars.

Bishop Michael Gielen said the decision followed 85% of parishioners supporting the plan.

Bishop Michael Gielen said the decision followed 85% of parishioners supporting the plan.

“We discerned with our people and the experts have told us this is the best place to build,” Gielen said.

“It is financially prudent, and it is of course where we have the most history.”

The Barbadoes Street site has been owned by the diocese for more than a century and is still used for educational facilities and housing priests.

But under the previous leadership of Bishop Paul Martin, a new plot of land was purchased on Amargh Street.

Christchurch City Councilor Jake McLellan said he was happy the diocese had made a decision, although it did mean the Amargh Street project would end.

“It provides a little bit of short term uncertainty, but ultimately it is a beautiful bit of land in one of the best parts of the CBD so I know the future for that area will be good,” McLellan said.

Gielen said a lot has changed since Amargh Street was purchased and the land would slowly be sold off to pay for the new rebuild.

“A lot has changed, there are financial considerations and our church has had to relook at the way we do things,” he said.

“You just try to deal with all the information you have and you make what decision you think is best and that is what we have done.”

But Gielen will not reveal whether the design of the new cathedral will match the grandeur of its predecessor.

“Something that is a worthy monument to God, that is who we want to honour. Also something the people of the city are proud of and something that represents us,” he said.

The announcement was met by praise by parishoner Ellen Scott, who said they felt a connection to the Barbadoes Street site because she went to school there.

“It is so exciting we can put a big, beautiful catheral on that big plot of land,” she said.

Even if it took a bit longer for the rebuild on the old site, Scott said it would be worth it.

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