Lepea Catholic church project not a Cathedral
The under-construction St. Therese Jesus The Child Lepea Catholic Church will retain its status as a church, not a cathedral, local Catholic authorities have clarified.
Contrary to earlier reports, the new building, which is an estimated 70 per cent complete, would be classified as a cathedral, Father Muliau Stowers said that the church's status would only be upgraded if it made a request to be bestowed with such a title to Samoa’s Archbishop.
But it has no plans to make such representations and, unless it is blessed with such a designation, it will remain a church, Father Stowers said.
Father Stowers, a spokesman for the Catholic Church of Apia, Samoa, clarified the differing status of church buildings within the Church’s hierarchy.
At the top level there stands a Basilica, Father Stowers explained.
“This is the type of Church building where the Pope is (called St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome),” said Father Stowers.
“We have a Basilica here in Samoa, which is the one in Leulumoega and it’s called the Minor Basilica of Saint Ann.
“The reason it’s called a Basilica is because the Pope Paul VI who is now Saint Paul because he held Mass there when he came here back in the 1970’s when he visited Samoa. That is why it’s called a Basilica, it’s the Church of the Holy Father (Tama Paia).”
The Archbishop of Samoa Apia is Alapati Lui Mataeliga.
A Cathedral, he explained, is in the second tier of Catholic buildings. It is the chair of the Archbishop.
“We have only one Cathedral in Samoa which is here at Mulivai. If we have here large events at Mulivai, the Archbishop comes to lead these gatherings and events because this is where his seat is, in the Cathedral. When we talk about the chair, we talk about his authority as an Archbishop, his authority to lead the diocese (puleaga),” Father Stowers said.
“So we have a Cathedral [...and below] the level of Cathedral, we have Churches. As for Lepea, it has not been given Basilica or Cathedral status. It is a Church. Now if the building is completed and the Archbishop wanted to elevate the status of the Church building and bless it as a Cathedral or something else, he could do so. But for now, we have just one Cathedral in Samoa.”
Catholic Chapels, he said, are smaller spaces found in schools and, for example, beneath the ground floor of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral at Mulivai.
“The Archbishop is the representative of the Pope in Samoa. He has been given the authority, from the Pope, to execute his duties as [the] shepherd for the Samoa Apia Diocese. The Pope wouldn’t have to authorise a Cathedral or anything done in Samoa. No,” said Father Stowers.
“If the Archbishop wanted to make the Lepea Church a Cathedral, he could do that; he has the authority.
“And then the Archbishop will have another seat there in Lepea. When you look inside the Cathedral, there is a special seat reserved only for the Archbishop. When we have Mass, we cannot sit in his seat, only the Archbishop can.”
Upon its completion the new church at Lepea will cost an estimated T$10.5 million.