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New Cathedral for Raleigh, North Carolina

A major step forward in the Catholic architectural landscape occurred this morning.

Bishop Burbidge of the Diocese of Raleigh announced at an 11 am EST press conference that they have chosen an architect for their new cathedral, dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. And it is not a high-style, "starchitect" Modernist chosen by the secular museum-based intelligentsia. It is an architect known for his traditional designs (like the new monastery for the Mystic Monk Coffee monks in Wyoming) as well as his own Catholic faith: James McCrery of McCrery Architects in Washington, DC.
Watch a video of the press conference here.
An initial proposal --only in its earliest stages of development-- is shown here. But all who love traditional architecture can rejoice. For the first time in more than half a century, a talented architect trained in traditional architecture will design a large-scale cathedral from scratch. Not a renovation. All new.
This is good news.
James McCrery is not local Joe the architect told to "do classical." He is not a Modernist who knows nothing of traditional design and makes compromised attempts to do something he is not trained to do. He is the real thing. And the people of Raleigh and the nation should celebrate.
The diocese announced about a year ago that they were considering building a new principal church for the rapidly-growing diocese. Rumors buzzed around certain parts of the blogosphere with the usual comments, hoping the mother church of the diocese wasn't going to look like a "mother ship."
For those who don't follow the ins and outs of ecclesiastical architecture very closely, it's worth reiterating: this is a big, big deal. Talented architect like Duncan Stroik and David Meleca and others have designed large, beautiful buildings for college chapels, parishes and important shrines. But this is the first time in our lifetime that a bishop has engaged a specialist in traditional to design and build a new cathedral.

And this is indeed cause for rejoicing.

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salvage said...

Because if there is one thing Jesus was all about it was giant expensive houses for people to sit in to tell him how great he was.

Hey, crazy idea, why not a simpler structure and the remaining money goes to a shelter or some organization that helps victims of sexual abuse?

Ahh just kidding, I know, big churches is more important than all that helping the poor crap otherwise how would your god know how fearing of it you are?

Suzanne Temple said...

It is delight to be a part of this diocese. It is growing both in numbers and in faith. It is full of young and enthusiastic Catholics and the bishop and many young priests and seminarians here are an inspiration.

James D. said...

wow Salvage--if you are serious then there's a lot of reading and understanding you need to do. First, learn some sacramental theology, especially as it applies to architecture. 2. Ponder the idea of charity in the words you choose to use toward others. Tearing down others is never a good method, even for good cause. 3. Watch the press conference. Bishop Burbidge reiterated that this will not draw any money away from any of the diocese's service programs.

Micah said...

Salvage, I believe you will find the rebuttal to your way of thinking in John 12:1-8. Please take special note of the originator of your argument.

Loving and serving God is the most important function of the Christian life. It should not be in contrast to the way Christians love and serve their neighbors, but it is indeed more important. It is always a temptation to say that loving our neighbor is more important - afterall, isn't that also loving service to God? - but the experience of the Church, the saints, and even Jesus Christ in the Gospels, is that love of man flows from love of God. You watch, this cathedral will become a great servant of God, and from that, a great servant of man - greater than it would be if it neglected God and served man only.

Suzanne Temple said...

Salvage, this diocese does quite a lot to help the poor and needy. Besides coordinating regular food drives and weekly brown bag lunches at our parish alone, many whose homes were destroyed in recent natural disasters found themselves financially supported by the parish until they could get back on their feet. Many of these families afterward have been so grateful they turned around and began small but regular donations to the much needed new buildings. We need these buildings because the current ones are not large enough to hold the congregations that flock here. Our own parish building is not large enough to hold everyone on regular Sunday masses. People stand in the hall or watch mass on a television screen in the cafeteria. (Gives new meaning to cafeteria Catholics) So no sir, we do not build huge buildings to show our God how much he scares us, but to welcome and serve all those whom He loves.

Warren said...

Thanks be to God for a restoration of Catholic identity! The iconoclasm of the last few decades must end.

Here's to a vibrant theology of the Incarnation expressed in exquisite stained glass, brilliant statuary, awe inspiring frescoes and a structure built to last the ages, a magnificent edifice built to the glory of God and a suitable house for the Real Presence.

Fr. Shawn P. Tunink said...

Praise God. Now, maybe someone from the Diocese of Orange will be inspired...

Clinton said...

Those folks who object to the diocese taking the trouble and expense
to build a worthy cathedral might ponder two points:

1) While building up a vast network of schools, hospitals and colleges
that serve all Americans, Catholics have also paid the same taxes as
atheists. When will atheists get together and build such a system on
their own dime?

2) John 12 v.3-8. In those verses Christ Himself refutes the Apostle
who objected to the expense of the ointment 'wasted' on perfuming
Christ's feet. "Why was this not sold... and given to the poor?" was of
course asked by none other than Judas Iscariot.

I agree completely with Warren's post above. It is high time we recover
the idea of churches as 'prayers in stone' and an expression the beauty
of the Faith.

priest's wife said...

salvage- Be careful! If you keep reading good Catholic blogs, you might have a change of heart and join us in belief!


Jason said...

Wow, this is amazing and wonderful news.

It was barely a decade ago when one could go to Mass at Raleigh's cathedral and have a chance to see

-the blessings of openly lesbian couples

-openly lesbian EMHCs

-universal distribution of the Eucharist at an interfaith ecumenical Christmas "service"

Brick by brick...in this case literally.

Andy Milam said...


Two things...

1. The Church is not first in the business of social justice. So, while it is certainly noble for Catholics to aware of those who are poor and needy and to provide for them, that is not the sole end of Church, as you intimate. The first end of the Church is saving souls. So, that being said...the whole social worker is primary issue which you are assuming is painfully weak, as a valid and fruitful argument.

2. If Christ is the King of the Universe, and if Christ is God, then would it not stand to reason that we would put forth our best to house Him? This is about Christ wanting the best, why? Because he expected the best from us, so we should give the best back to Him. Not only spiritually, but also temporally. One of the best ways to do this is through beautiful churches. And if you really want to get angry about this, you really should be mad at the Jews...have you not read the accounts of the two temples? We're just following our elder brother's example....

You really need to get a grip. Being Catholic is as much about being temporal as it is about being spiritual. Catholicism is not a peasant religion, it is a religion where it gives it's best to God and to man. So, before you go passing judgment, you should probably direct your energies where they are of best use. On your knees and praying for the greater glory of God.

Anonymous said...

This is a missed opportunity. Every new era brings new technology and a new idea of architecture should be expressed and celebrated. Catholics used to be the leader in architectural innovation expressing the present times. Traditional architecture does not define 2011. A few architects could achieve a high quality of spiritual timelessness without succumbing to a style(whether historic or modern), but rather design for the specific location and time, and enhance the liturgy through art and architecture.

Anonymous said...

@selvage:"Because if there is one thing Jesus was all about it was giant expensive houses for people to sit in to tell him how great he was."
God with a capital God is great and Jesus Christ is great. May I suggest you go change your underwear.
Mary De Voe

Anonymous said...

"Every new era brings new technology and a new idea of architecture should be expressed and celebrated."

I could only laugh.

Anonymous said...

I don't know.... may withhold judgment until I see the real deal. Meanwhile it looks as though it is only really about the same size as your average high school. (Something tells me it will be built for far less)

I don't know enough about the architect but it seems to me that it should be possible to combine traditional classical designs with modern technology and modern materials and so on.

This is great news though.

BTW, to Salvage: I had a hard time with the idea that Catholics spent money on churches that could have gone to the poor.

...Right up until I started to truly grasp the magnitude of the idea that God humbled Himself out of his infinite love for us and infinite mercy for us and that in doing so, the one Lord of the universe, He Who Is, Who created the laws of physics and ever speck of substance, is present to us in the Eucharist.... at... church! He actually gives us a PLACE here on earth where we may go and worship Him and RECEIVE Him. Why wouldn't we want to take advantage of that? It is about LOVE. Love of God.

Not only do I now understand why entire families sacrificed for generations to build cathedrals, but I also find myself willing to do the same thing. New big screen TV? Nah, give the money to the poor AND to the Church. Then, when I walk into one of these magnificent places, I am in awe at how He moves us.

Jesus Himself said that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord Your God with your whole heart and your whole soul and your whole mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. It is interesting that, to love God so utterly and completely, requires that we pay Him homage in EVERY way that we can think of.

Notice, too, He didn't put that the other way around even though they are so closely related to one another. There is a distinction.

Anonymous said...

Salvage- Why not a magnificent building? Would the world be better off without Westminster Abbey? The Notre Dame? St. Paul's Cathedral? The Taj Mahal? Cheops, Stonehenge, the Washington Monument? Is it the human dedication to magnificence you disdain- or the human dedication to God's Magnificence? Get over your convenient chastising in the name of giving everything to the poor. Giving to the poor and glorifying God through a magnificent human creation can both be done. And should be. Mozart's Requiem, Bach's Masses; works by Michaelangelo, Titian, daVinci- all done in the glorification of God. For good reason. Were they a waste of time because they were inspired by, and dedicated to, Him? Should the great artists have worked in a soup kitchen instead of creating their masterpieces? Sheesh.

Anneg said...

Anon, My parish is one of those with "modern adaptations". It is actually a beautiful building but there are NO WINDOWS. Without electric light, it is DARK. The "modern" audio system is a constant pain. In 13th to 19th century Churches in Europe we never had that problem.
Sometimes the reason for tradition is because it actually functioned. I hope the new cathedral does as well. It should. AnneG in NC
Raleigh is my diocese.

Dave P. said...


It should tell you something that neither St. Francis of Assisi nor Dorothy Day had any problems with beautiful churches.

meilinPR said...

It is great that the cathedral will have a traditional design, but it bothers me that it will be located in a "cathedral campus" with a huge three-story parking lot and, presumably (judging from the renders), sitting far away from the City of Raleigh proper. It would seem that if I don't have a car, I can't get there. But, more importantly, traditionally cathedrals are in the city, where the action is. It seems wrong, at least in the symbolic level, to isolate the cathedral of Raleigh from Raleigh.

salvage said...

Now this is interesting. I have asked an awful lot of questions here about the whole Jesus thing, stuff like:

Why did your god sacrifice himself to himself so it wouldn't be wrathful to its creation for behaving exactly how it created it / knew it was going to behave?

And what sacrifice? Jesus came came back from the dead and went off to Heaven, so nothing was lost save one unpleasant day and three days to sleep / coma it off.

And for the most part I was ignored or told I just don't get it, which is true, I don't, hence the questions to the people who claim to.

But here I ask and get answers a plenty! It seems when it comes down to the material world there is no mystery.

You and your gods like prestige and opulence and I can dig that, being a fan myself, but that contradicts Jesus, for instance the time the guy goes up to Jesus and asks, "How can I be like you?" and Jesus says "Give away all your stuff and own nothing." and the guy says "Ehhh yeah... no, I'm not going to do that..."

I'm paraphrasing of course but that's the the gist of it.

And the early Christians followed this ideal, shunning all material wealth for a very long time until of course Christianity's popularity exploded thanks to some very nasty wars and money was to be made. Then it came to pass that all that stuff about being poor was wrong! Turns out money was just the god's way of saying "Job well done son!".

For a well documented example you should check out the history of monks, how the movement started (in complete poverty) and peaked (Henry ripping off all their gold and property making him even richer).

John said...

Good Morning, Salvage,
So, if I understand you correctly, you believe that the moneys that the diocese may spend on the proposed cathedral would be better spent on the poor, needy, and abused. Hmm. If you had the money to provide for your parents, would you require them to live in a warehouse? Or would you buy a nice, comfortable home? If the latter, wouldn't you be guilty neglecting the poor, needy, and abused in the manner by which you accuse the Church? I can't imagine your parents would appreciate the warehouse though.

You're quite correct in referring to Church history concerning monks. You also seem oblivious to St Paul's comments regarding vocations. Not all parts of the Body of Christ will live exactly the same way. Different portions will have different lifestyles, depending greatly on their calling in life.

1:40 Anonymous:
If you believe modern technology and so forth so wonderful, I fear I might horrify you: I keep thinking it'd be rather cool to offer the entire Easter Vigil Mass by candlelight, with almost no light bulbs in use at all. Granted, it won't happen, but technology can easily be overused.
I've noticed that I have a strong preference for the churches in this area that Catholics built before 1950. After 1950..they seem generally quite boring to me. ..But then, I'm a sucker for good stained glass! :)
PS. Have you ever been in a church that has an organ with actual pipes? Organs with speakers work fine, but you haven't heard organ music 'til you've heard it on a genuine pipe organ!
What a sound!!

I am not Spartacus said...

"Because if there is one thing Jesus was all about it was giant expensive houses for people to sit in to tell him how great he was."

Exodus. God commands His followers to build out of gold, brass, setim wood etc etc. God hates the poor.

"Hey, crazy idea, why not a simpler structure and the remaining money goes to a shelter or some organization that helps victims of sexual abuse?"

This is built for the greater glory of God whereas each generation has innumerable Judas' who complain of expensive items used to worship God that could have better spent to help the poor

"Ah just kidding, I know, big churches is more important than all that helping the poor crap otherwise how would your god know how fearing of it you are?"

Most of the big Catholic Churches in the world were built, in part, with the monies contributed by the poor who took GREAT pride in giving what little they had to construct a beautiful Church, with Iconography, Verticality, and Permanence and within which is an Altar, the symbol of Jesus, and which Catholic Church was decorated with Statuary and paintings and sculpture and carvings which were, essentially, a Catechesis in stone where as the Puritan minded suck

Dingo said...

Hey Salvage.

So it sounds like you have asked your questions somewhere, but have not been answered?

Where did you ask them? You might try to rephrase them slightly and pose them over at the Catholic Answers website. Or you could ask them directly to a solid orthodox Catholic priest.

I, myself, and no expert, rather I am a terrible sinner, but I do have a tiny bit of knowledge here so I will do my best to answer your questions.


God gave man free will. This means that while God knows everything that man will do, man always has a choice between good and evil. Always. He sent His son, not so that he would not be wrathful, but because God's nature is infinitely merciful and infinitely loving.

Along with this infinite mercy and love is infinite and perfect justice. God knew and loved each of us when we were all ideas to Him - before he made us. He loves us so much that he does not want any of us to reject Him.

What you refer to as "wrath" is merely our own actions separating us from God forever. By our own choices, we reject Him. By rejecting Him, we cut ourselves off forever from Him and because his justice is perfect, it would be impossible to reject Him and yet then be with Him eternally along with those who have loved and obeyed Him.

This is where His mercy comes in: God's love is so beyond comprehension that, despite our sins, He chose to give us new graces and chances to change our hearts.

He sent Jesus to die for our sins because, as one writer put it, a single sin carries the weight of the universe. As God is perfect, any rejection of Him, even a tiny one, is perfectly backwards. We are incapable ourselves of EARNING back or meriting any mercy through our actions.

Therefore only God Himself can merit for us the chance to be forgiven. God chose to do this by sending us His son, that by His death AND His resurrection, we MAY be able to gain eternal life by following His commands.

Second question:
Regarding the suffering of Jesus. "Nothing was lost save one unpleasant day."

In His passion, Jesus experienced really EVERY form of suffering that there is in human experience. From loneliness and rejection, humiliation and betrayal to unimaginable physical pain.

More importantly, Jesus was not just a man, he IS God. So His very presence on earth at all was a supreme sacrifice. He could have just staying in Heaven.

Think of it this way. If God is the Prime Mover, the one who wrote the laws of physics, etc. then by He, Himself, living as a man and allowing Himself to be subjected to all He was, He demonstrates for us perfect HUMILITY. The pain He suffered was real pain, the friends who left Him, He truly loved. Yet He is GOD! Far from being a minor sacrifice, it is actually not possible for there to be any greater one.

As for being in a "Coma" - Jesus "descended to the dead". Meaning that he was in the place where souls were prior to His Resurrection.

And it was by His Resurrection that he proved Himself God and proved the Father's love and sacrifice for us.

In renaming Simon, "Rock" (Peter) and saying "upon this Rock I build my Church" He gave us a new vehicle by which we could come to know Him and understand Him and, most importantly to Love Him. And through his gift of the Himself in the Eucharist He gave us another way to be in communion with Him in His Church.

I hope this is somewhat helpful.

God bless you, my friend. Keep asking tough questions. You are in my prayers.

RS said...

Thinking out loud says:
Not one but two thumbs up for Dingo's input. Salvage read everyone's comments for a grand lesson regarding "different people, different thoughts. In the twilight of my years I can only hope and pray that the new Cathedral does not do as many other progressives have done: Hide the Tabernacle and fail to provide kneelers, two acts of the devil.
Lastly for those who with hardness of heart let me share this bit of wisdom with you: "It is better to believe then die and find that there is no God, the to disbelieve and die, finding out that there is." Woe to you on which way you choose. As I continue to live and breathe it is true, "Life here is short." When we leave here, then life begins - ETERNALLY! God bless you one and all. Pray as you have never prayed before.

Anonymous said...

Why is a new Cathedral necessary? I attended a Latin mass at the present one and was quite happy the way it is.

Anonymous said...

As a Catholic who has asked this specific bishop bishop, in writing, to intervene on behalf of a valid, sacramental marriage that was targeted for destruction by the Catholic Church and which has been supported by the Catholic Church for more than two decades of adultery, in spite of its validity, I would rather see this irresponsible bishop grow up, act like a priest and actually spend money, and make personal, substantial efforts to work to restore marriages, especially those which have been demonstrated to be so by the Roman Rota, rather than show his "love for Jesus" through a bigger, more beautiful building.

I am insulted by this man's incredible arrogance.

John said...

Anon @ 5:20,
This sounds like a statement that you sought a statement of nullity for a previous marriage,did not receive it, but re-married anyway, and are now enraged that the bishop seeks to build a suitable house of worship for the diocese.

Instead of shouting with rage on the internet, perhaps you'd be well advised to make an appointment with the marriage tribunal to determine the best step to take next? Lashing out at your bishop doesn't precisely help solve any problem.

Anonymous said...

Precisely why the Catholic Church is dying and under such attacks.....because its priests and bishops DO NOT do their jobs and DO NOT require those who call themselves CATHOLIC to behave as if they took their beliefs seriously:

Let's have a better house of worship even as we ignore the teachings of Jesus AND the well being of the FEW Catholics who care enough to follow those teachings AND are openly mocked by their priests, bishops and supposedly fellow Catholics.


And the Pope does NOTHING to discipline these abominations of clerics he curses us with.

Anonymous said...

Brick by brick? I think not.

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