Storm-damaged cathedral to be demolished

With fears the building could collapse after it was severely damaged during devastating storms earlier this month, it has been announced that the historic St Patrick's Cathedral in the town of Bunbury in Western Australia's south-west is to be demolished.

ABC News reports that the condition of the 84-year-old cathedral has further deteriorated in the past couple of weeks following more heavy rain, which has caused cracks in the building's walls to widen.

Last week the building was fenced off from parishioners after the Bunbury City Council declared it a danger zone.

Bishop Gerard Holohan informed parishioners at Masses on the weekend that Structural Engineers assessing the damage said it has ben worsening to the extent that it is now too unsafe to undergo further examination and was in danger of collapse at any time. In his Report the Structural Engineer has condemned the building and it needs to be demolished to ground level as soon as possible.

John Ogilvie from the Catholic Diocese of Bunbury told the ABC that the locals are devastated.

"Particularly for the Bunbury parishioners, who many of them have been baptised or married in there and obviously some have farewelled loved ones in the cathedral," Mr Ogilvie said. "It's a very very sad day in the history of the Catholic Diocese of Bunbury."

The diocese says it hopes to have a new cathedral built in the next couple of years, but the working out of details will be put on hold until after the grieving process. But the bishop said advice would be sought from other dioceses that have experienced the same problem of needing to build a new Cathedral.

"With its fate now determined, I am announcing that there will be a farewell ceremony when the engineers tell us it is safe to conduct such a ceremony, within the next four weeks," said Bishop Holohan. "We would appreciate the wider community allow Catholics to grieve over this loss before we start to worry about details for the future" Bishop Holohan said.

He expressed thanks to "the many people who have come forward to help in so many practical ways".

"Thank you again to all who have offered their support from around Australia. Finally, thank you to our insurance company and their assessors who have been very supportive during this difficult time."

Storm-damaged cathedral to be demolished (ABC News 30/5/05)
Media Statement: St Patrick's Cathedral (Diocese of Bunbury 30/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Diocese of Bunbury
Statement of the Bishop to Bunbury Parishioners (Diocese of Bunbury 20/5/05)
Painter John Garde captures Bunbury in the right light (ABC South West WA 12/3/04)
St Patrick's Cathedral (Trove.Net)

Tornado-damaged Cathedral may face demolition (CathNews 23/5/05)

31 May 2005