27 July 2001
Management of cathedrals and other major religious buildings in use
Recommendation 1484 (2000)
Reply from the Committee of Ministers
adopted at the 761st meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (18 July 2001)
The Committee of Ministers has considered Recommendation 1484 (2000) on “Management of cathedrals and other major religious buildings in use” of the Parliamentary Assembly. It welcomes the renewed awareness of the need to preserve, promote and enhance religious cultural heritage and to recognise the spiritual and other values they represent, such as a people’s sense of belonging and identity, respecting, at the same time, the provisions of civil and religious law in each of the Council of Europe’s member state.
The Committee of Ministers shares the views of the Parliamentary Assembly, as expressed in paragraph 7 of the Recommendation, and encourages member states to continue with measures to promote the conservation of religious cultural heritage and the legal restitution of Church property, in accordance with the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights.
To make sure that the civil authorities become more acquainted with the systems established by religious authorities for the protection, preservation and enhancement of their cultural property, the Committee of Ministers decided to bring this Recommendation to the attention of the Governments of its member states, as well as the opinion of its specialised Committee on Cultural Heritage, the CC-PAT, which is appended to this reply.
Given that the Recommendation puts an emphasis on the role and responsibility of local and regional authorities, along that of the national ones, for integrated conservation and promotion of cultural heritage, the Committee of Ministers decided to transmit this Recommendation to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) and draw its attention to it.
As for the question of disseminating case studies and exchanging good practice in the fields of standard-setting, identification, integrated conservation and promotion of cultural heritage, the Committee of Ministers considers that the European Heritage Network (HEREIN) set-up by the CC-PAT could be used as a means to this end. The Committee of Ministers invites its member states either to do that at their national level, or to pledge voluntary contributions, in case they wish the Council of Europe to carry out this task.
Opinion of the Cultural Heritage Committee (CC-PAT) on Recommendation 1484 (2000) on “Management of cathedrals and other major religious buildings in use” of the Parliamentary Assembly
(adopted by the Bureau of the CC-PAT on 9 May 2001)
- congratulates the Parliamentary Assembly on drafting and adopting this text, which was a most useful contribution to the Campaign “Europe: A Common Heritage”;
- notes that it raises matters important to all member states, and illustrates aspects of the issues of standard-setting, identification, conservation, management and promotion common to the cultural heritage as a whole;
- wishes to develop co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly in the field of cultural heritage, especially in the field of standard setting and, if possible, at the early stage in preparation of reference texts;
- proposes that the European Heritage Network (HEREIN) be utilised as a means of disseminating case studies and exchanging good practice in these fields;
- recommends that it be drawn to the attention of the CLRAE, given its emphasis on the importance of the role of local and regional, as well as national, authorities;
- supports the Recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly subject to the following specific observations:
- notes with satisfaction the renewed awareness and commitment by civil authorities to help preserve, promote and enhance religious cultural heritage and to recognize the spiritual and other values they represent;
- welcomes the change of emphasis from the technical problems of conservation to the "integrated conservation" of major religious buildings and their contents;
- strongly advises that the proposals in paragraph 10 make specific reference to the need to respect the provisions of civil and religious law in each European state, provisions which do not address management "per se" but conservation ("integrated conservation");
- recommends that civil authorities become more acquainted with the systems established by religious authorities for the protection, preservation, enhancement of their cultural property, and build a policy of collaboration accordingly;
- emphasises that the balance between the rights and responsibilities of religious communities, and the wider public interest in all heritage, represented by public authorities, is a sensitive matter in all member states;
- recalls the rights of religious denominations to exist, aggregate, develop modes of worship and use, and consequently own, administer, or manage their religious cultural heritage in use, both movable and immovable;
- asks that civil authorities acknowledge not only the often remarkable material value of religious cultural heritage, but particularly its intrinsic spiritual significance and sacred character, and its contribution to people's sense of belonging and identity;
- emphasises that the basis for partnerships in developing access to religious monuments should be respect for their authentic spiritual and sacred nature;
- stresses that religious authorities should have the right to decide the extent to which additional functions may take place in major religious buildings in use;
- requests that specific reference be made to major religious buildings of all faiths, including synagogues and mosques.