Tijuana’s new archbishop has rejected the design of a new cathedral that has been under construction since 2006.
In an undated press release posted on the new cathedral’s website, Archbishop Francisco Moreno Barrón said, among other things, “That in eagerness that it be modern, the project does not look like a Catholic church, much less a cathedral.”
The archbishop has asked architects interested in the cathedral’s re-design to submit their plans by mid-June. After the winning design is selected, Moreno said he hopes the new plan will be unveiled on December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, for whom the cathedral is named.
In the press release, Archbishop Moreno enumerated other problems with the new cathedral: that the current plan was approved by only a few people without the opportunity for other persons or groups from the Church and society to participate, that priests in the archdiocese do not identify with the proposed cathedral and, because of that, have not promoted it, that a committee meant to consult on the cathedral’s design and help raise money for its construction, the Patronato Pro Construcción, has remained on the sidelines and has not met for years, that donations have been very limited for a project of its size, and that it is too much work and responsibility for just one priest to handle.
Ground was broken for the new cathedral in June 2006 in Tijuana’s Zona Río. The first phase included the construction of a columbarium and crypts, which were offered for sale in an effort to raise money for the structure. Moreno said the already-constructed portion will be incorporated into the new design.
The long planned replacement for Tijuana’s existing downtown cathedral was made a priority by Moreno’s predecessor, Archbishop Emeritus Rafael Romo Muñoz, when he arrived in Tijuana in 1996. Romo retired last year after turning 75, and Pope Francis named Moreno his successor. Moreno has been archbishop since August 2016.
Romo has defended his handling of the new cathedral project, pointing out that one land parcel needed for the building cost $1.25 million, and a second parcel cost another $600,000.
Moreno has named a new committee to handle details of the new cathedral, which is made up of 10 priests along with prominent business and political leaders in the city. The archbishop will head the committee.