Catholic Church loses St Vitus case but vows to fight on
It’s instantly recognisable on Prague’s horizon, and has been subject to legal battles for several years. St Vitus Cathedral, the gothic masterpiece that towers over Prague Castle, does not belong to the Roman Catholic Church – that was the verdict reached on Thursday by the country’s Supreme Court.
The court recognised two of the state’s key arguments – first, that the Roman Catholic Church was not the sole owner of St Vitus Cathedral during its 700-year-history. And second, in complex legal terms, that the Church should have used a suit of restitution, and not declaratory action, when it filed its legal case.
But the church isn’t giving up, and says it will now appeal to the Constitutional Court. If this fails, it will use the final legal avenue open to it – international arbitration. Until then, the status quo from an agreement signed last year remains in force – the Roman Catholic Church has the right to use St Vitus Cathedral for religious services; but it belongs to the state, which must pay to maintain it.