The end of the St Vitus dance? Church and State find compromise over Cathedral
A long running dispute between Church and State in the Czech Republic concerning the ownership of St Vitus Cathedral in Prague has come to a close. Archbishop Dominik Duka OP of Prague signed an agreement with the Czech President Vaclav Klaus to share the care of St Vitus on Monday ending an 18 year long dispute over the Church’s property rights.
After the fall of Communism, Duka’s predecessor Cardinal Miloslav Vlk started a courtbattle over cathedral ownership. The battle has raged for years, swaying in the favour of one party then the other.
Archbishop Duka said: “ It is clear that this particular property cannot be judged on purely legal grounds. This cathedral is a historical, spiritual, national and cultural symbol dear to the heart of all Czechs – regardless of their faith.”
When Cardinal Vlk stepped down, Radio Prague reported that his three greatest failures were a) the inability to end the dispute over the ownership of the Cathedral b) reaching a final agreement on Church property restitution and c) establish a concordat between the Holy See and the Czech Republic.
When Archbishop Duka was nominated, he pledged to put an end to such disputes between Church and State in the Czech Republic.
He said: “The unresolved situation is blocking the development of villages, towns and regions. We want such an agreement that would benefit the whole society, which means also churches and religious societies.”
The Church lost the last legal battle, with the court ruling that the State had ownership over the Cathedral. Under the new agreement, the Church has full use of the buildings while the State oversees the building’s maintenance. Radio Prague has more
Archbishop Duka was installed as Archbishop of Prague in April this year.