Cardinal Vlk welcomes return of St. Vitus Cathedral to Catholic Church
Oct 30, 2005
Reacting to a ruling that was 13 years in the making, Prague Archbishop Cardinal Miloslav Vlk yesterday welcomed the court decision that said, St. Vitus Cathedral, perhaps Prague's best-known symbol around the world, belongs to the Catholic church and not the state.
PDM staff with CTK) 26 October 2005 - St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle and the adjacent real estate belong to the church, the Prague 1 District Court ruled yesterday.
Czech courts have been dealing with the dispute between the state and the church about the cathedral for 13 years.
Vlk said the latest legal round was a good sign that Czech courts have started working properly and that it was a victory of justice.
He said that it was also a sign of hope that further cases of arbitrariness connected with the Communist regime would be set right, too.
But the case is hardly over.
"We will still appeal," Milada Sipkova, lawyer for the Office of the Government Representation in Property Affairs (UZSVM), said.
According to yesterday's ruling, the cathedral, along with the land and the tower at St. Vitus Cathedral, belong to the Saint Vitus Metropolitan Chapter. A part of the adjacent land belongs to the All Saints Collegiate Chapter at Prague Castle, according to the district court.
"This is a clear response to those who claimed, using the Communist vocabulary, that the cathedral belongs to all the people," Czech Catholic primate Vlk told CTK, adding that it was nonsense to claim that church could purloin the precious national heritage, and "take it away to the Vatican."
Several years ago, Vlk voiced the church's readiness to donate the cathedral to the nation. "At that time, the government and Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus refused this as they wanted to settle the affair through a law, but I could not accept it. Now the time of our willingness is gone," Vlk said.
"We are glad that the 13-year ordeal is nearing the end," Vlk said about the protracted trial.
He said that there was still no general arrangement of property disputes between the state and the church.
When the state took charge of church heritage after the Communist take-over, it did not fulfill its duty, Vlk said.
"It is right to say that as far as the cathedral is concerned, at least its outer part, the Prague Castle Administration, did care for very well. Inside, some things have been damaged or lost," Vlk said.
Some houses at Prague Castle that the church is also claiming, such as the well-known Vikarka wine bar, have been empty for years and are falling apart, Vlk said.
"One can see that the Prague Castle Administration does not need them," he added.
"In same cases, I do not find a decent word for the behaviour of the Prague Castle Administration," Vlk said.