Much to the dismay of cultural heritage expert groups — and common architecture lovers — Vietnam has announced the upcoming demolishment of the unique Catholic Bui Chu Cathedral. A 135-year-old building, famous for its blend of Vietnamese and European architectural styles, will be replaced by the exact, albeit larger, replica, the government promises.
According to the local authorities, Bui Chu’s condition has grown so poor, it is now a threat to the parish: hence the tough decision. It will reportedly be destroyed by the end of the summer. After the Vietnam authorities initially announced their plans last year, the international media uproar forced them to pause for a while. 25 prominent architects from all over the world have written an open letter, begging the state of Vietnam to spare Bui Chu. But it seems that the decision is final.
Last year Martin Rama, the World Bank Chief Economist for the LAC who used to live in Hanoi, published a letter titled “Save Bui Chu Cathedral, From An Atheist With Love,” addressed to Father Vu Dinh Hieu, Bishop of Bui Chu Diocese and Father Vu Van Thien, Archbishop of Hanoi. In it, Rama offered to purchase land for the new cathedral in exchange for preserving the original Bui Chui. He also offered to raise money for its restoration. His proposal, however, was reportedly rejected.