Church and State
Church, state battle over who owns Prague cathedral

.- Cardinal Miloslav Vlk is defending the Church’s ownership of St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague after the Supreme Court nullified a verdict it issued in the fall, under which the cathedral came under the jurisdiction of Church authorities, and returned the case to a lower level court.

The Supreme Court announced its decision in February. The lower court, which had previously ruled that the cathedral belonged to the state, is to start discussing the case on May 3.

The Catholic Church in Czech Republic and the state have been engaged in court disputes over the ownership of Prague’s 14th-century St. Vitus Cathedral for more than 13 years. The cathedral forms part of the Prague Castle where the Presidential Office is located.

"The Supreme Court's verdict does not at all state that we should hand the cathedral over. This is just the interpretation of the Presidential Office. As we see it, the dispute returned to the district court and the verdict is yet to come," Cardinal Vlk told the Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD).

But, according to a report in the Prague Daily Monitor, Supreme Court deputy chairman Pavel Kucera said the verdict "actually meant that no further court decisions were needed for the cathedral to be returned to the state."

There are some obvious misunderstandings about what the Supreme Court decision means. Petr Hajek, spokesman for President Vaclav Klaus, said the Church is expected to hand the cathedral over to the state. Hajek interpreted the Supreme Court decision to mean that the Administration of the Prague Castle is obliged to take over the cathedral and that it can do so immediately.

Both parties were to discuss the handover at a meeting yesterday. Hajek said he expected the handover to happen then. Cardinal Vlk said he did not understand this to be the case.

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