The Czech president and the Archbishop of Prague have announced an agreement resolving a property dispute over St. Vitus’ Cathedral dating back to the communist era.
In a May 24 meeting which included state representatives, church dignitaries and the press, President Vaclav Klaus and Archbishop Dominik Duka signed an agreement outlining joint administration rules for the cathedral.
“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.
Archbishop Duka’s predecessor, Cardinal Miroslav Vlk, began a legal case concerning the property soon after the fall of communism. The cardinal said he was prepared to take the dispute to the European Court of Human Rights.
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.”