Heads of Christian denominations in Canterbury have called for acceptance of the decision by the Anglican Christchurch diocesan synod to reinstate the earthquake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral.

A statement by 13 church leaders, including Catholic representation by Christchurch Catholic diocese’s Mike Stopforth, expressed “unequivocal support for the Anglican community”.

But the statement also noted concerns around previous debate concerning the cathedral.

“At a recent heads of Christian Denominations meeting, serious concern was expressed about the conduct of some aspects of the debate around the cathedral. Church leaders recognised the contentious nature of the issue and the complexities involved, however there is great concern about the occasionally vicious nature of some of the debate. Vitriol and personal attack add nothing of value to a decision-making process, and in fact demean all of us in the city.

“Now Christian leaders plead with everyone interested in this divisive debate to accept the decision that has been carefully and legitimately made,” the church leaders’ statement continued.

“Let us put division and bitterness behind us and work together for the good of our whole community.”

The Christchurch Anglican diocese announced earlier this month that it would now work with the Christchurch City Council and Government to begin the reinstating process for the cathedral.

The church leaders’ statement noted that “while it is primarily an Anglican conversation [about the future of the cathedral], along with other interested parties, many Christians have felt a stake in this matter, even if for most, it is from the sidelines”.

The statement also noted: “The rebuild will be a demanding project, a whole new challenge. We look forward to seeing a successful conclusion, a building ready to be filled with people and praise again.”