The fate of the earthquake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral will be decided early next month.
Bishop Victoria Matthews says in an advertisement in The Presstoday (on page B7) that the cathedral is "a very dangerous building" and that buildings are "secondary to our concern for people".
She insisted the advertisement was not preparing the public for possible demolition of the cathedral.
"We are not preparing for a certain outcome. We need to tell people what we know," she said.
"That is not the point. The point is to share what we do know. It is not to prepare the ground for what we don't know."
Matthews said engineering reports on the building would be received by the Anglican diocese early in March and peer-reviewed by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and the Historic Places Trust.
"I don't know what I will be told when I get all these reports.
"I don't know if it will be black and white or shades of grey. If there is a difference of opinion, it will take longer," she said.
"Structurally, it is in bad shape, but I am not a structural engineer. We don't know what the report is going to say."
The advertisement includes photographs showing the extent of damage to the cathedral. The photographs, taken from a crane, show rubble inside the nave of the cathedral and the sagging tile roof.
In the advertisement, Matthews says the December 23 quakes set back plans for the cathedral.
"The 23 December earthquakes came just as we were finalising the assessment and interim 'make safe' plans for it," she writes.
"We are now undertaking new engineering reassessments of the cathedral in order to determine what are the realistic options for the building's future ...
"We believe they will be in a position to make an announcement and talk with the church community and the wider community early in March 2012."
Outgoing dean Peter Beck, who will be sworn in as a city councillor next week, referred media calls to public relations firm Chambers PR and Matthews.
"I am very happy with what is happening and I am very conscious of the fact it is all going very well," he said.