Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Prague Cathedral

I have posted a number of times before on the state of the Prague Cathedral. A brief history: the first Church there was built in the 900s, the present day Cathedral in the 1200s, the Commies seized it (with much of the Church's property) when they took over Czechoslovakia, then, when the Czech Republic formed, they decided not to give the Church its property back, including the Cathedral. And so, there have been fights in Czech and European courts. But, now the word is that an agreement has been reached.

“The state and the Catholic Church will work together to administer and maintain the cathedral as they have done for centuries,” President Klaus explained, according to Radio Prague. “The Church will continue to use the cathedral as a metropolitan church and the state will secure the necessary funds for its maintenance.”

The agreement will create a board of administrators made up of the Czech Republic’s leading representatives. They will meet once or twice each year to discuss issues related to the cathedral’s maintenance and use.

The Catholic Church will be allowed to use two adjoining buildings, part of the Prague Castle compound, free of charge.

Not too bad a deal if you ask me, the State opts to pay to keep up the place, though I generally don't like the idea of getting in bed with the state like this. After all, what if the Secular authorities decide they want to hold some non-sacral events within the Cathedral, or worse. My guess is, this Cathedral is consecrated in perpetuity, and thus can't be rendered to the secular. The new Cardinal Archbishop, replacing Cardinal Vlk, decided that the probably almost 20 year old court battle has been drawn out too much.

Radio Prague reports that the new archbishop said the court fight, almost two decades old, was pointless.

“It is clear that this particular property cannot be judged on purely legal grounds,” he commented. “This cathedral is a historical, spiritual, national and cultural symbol dear to the heart of all Czechs – regardless of their faith.”

In the same way, the Pieta or the ceiling of the Sistine chapel are "historical, spiritual, national and cultural" icons, but I wouldn't want to turn their control or ownership in whole or part to secular authorities. This case, however, is different, as the state has the ownership at this moment. This is probably a good compromise, as the European Courts might just tell the Church "tough luck", and in this case, there could be a chance that a benevolent government in the future might decide that administrating Church properties nearly a Millennium old isn't worth it.

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