A rescue worker looking through the rubble of the Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch.
A rescue worker looking through the rubble of the Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch. Reuters

The 131-year-old Anglican cathedral of Christchurch, New Zealand will be demolished after suffering severe damage from more than a year of aftershocks following the devastating 6.3-magnitude earthquake in February 2011.

Right Reverend Victoria Matthews, the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch, announced the news of the forced demolition.

The cathedral will be deconstructed with the utmost care and respect while at the same time protecting the treasure within its walls -- there will be no bulldozers or wrecking balls on the job, Bishop Matthews said.

Deconstruction will bring down the height of the cathedral walls to a safer level of 2-3 meters above the ground.

That will leave the footprint, although there may be parts of the walls that need to come down lower, she explained.

Due to a shortage of funds -- an estimated $84 million -- the cathedral cannot be rebuilt.

A new cathedral at a cost of $42 million will replace it, while the cathedral's deconstruction will allow for remaining treasures to be preserved, such as the stained glass windows and memorial stones.

The news has saddened much of the Christchurch community, for which the cathedral provided memorable personal connections, and angered many conservationists. Mayor Bob Parker described the demolition news as heart-breaking.

We acknowledge the high level of community interest and sense of ownership as the cathedral was both an iconic building and a place of regular worship by many, Rev. Matthews said in a statement. However, this is now a very dangerous building that needs to be made safe, alluding to the cathedral's sentimental value.

However, conservationists are organizing last minute campaigns to press the church to reconsider the decision. Indignant, many of them feel that not enough options were explored for reconstruction of the cathedral.

The church has not yet provided a timescale for the demolition process nor a start date for the construction of the new cathedral.