of cathedrals and other major religious buildings in use
Cathedrals and other major religious buildings are amongst the most
significant constructions of the European architectural heritage. With them
are often associated a wealth of works of art and furnishings. In most cases
they possess a significant historical past and in certain cases this past
embraces different religions.
These buildings are particularly vulnerable because of their size, richness,
antiquity and tourist frequentation. Their fabric is at the mercy of
environmental pollution, storm damage and potential earthquake.
The cost of the proper maintenance and repair of such buildings often far
exceeds the resources of the present religious community that uses them.
arrangement must therefore be reached between the religious authorities and
those concerned (at local and national levels) with the conservation of the
cultural heritage. Different models exist ? from mediaeval associations such
as the ?uvre Notre-Dame in Strasbourg to the modern maintenance service of
the Dutch Monumentenwacht. Further
partnerships should also be sought in civil society, with interested
non-governmental associations and with the tourist industry.
communities have very different attitudes to the physical heritage. Some (such
as the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches) regard the buildings and their
contents as sacred. Others (such as most Protestant Churches) are very much
open to multifunctional use of the premises. These differing attitudes should
be respected for major religious buildings that are still in use.
In its earlier
work on memorials (Recommendation 898) and redundant religious buildings
(Resolution 916), the Assembly concentrated on the physical aspects of the
cultural heritage. More recently it has drawn attention to the relationship
between church and state (Recommendation 1396). The Assembly feels, therefore,
that it is most appropriate that the religious dimension be recognised as part
of the cultural heritage in the context of the present ?Europe, a common
involves the whole of Europe. The Assembly is aware of the revival of
religious interest in former communist countries and in the moves to restore
religious property to the Churches. It is concerned that due consideration be
given in this process to allocation of responsibility for conservation of the
fabric of the major religious buildings that are of cultural importance. Where
possible and appropriate, the return of historic buildings should be
accompanied by the return of the estates that used to service them.
communities should for their part build on their long traditions of love of
beauty and fine craftsmanship, music, welcome to pilgrims, hospitality, to
inaugurate a new form of tourism based on an understanding of spirituality and
the role that intangible values have in the cultural heritage.
There is room
for solidarity as well as partnership. Countries and religious traditions with
more experience and resources should assist those that are less endowed.
recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
examine the various models for the maintenance, conservation and repair of
major religious buildings still in use in Europe and draw up a code of good
practice for their effective management while recognising the rights and
responsibilities of the religious communities;
organise from time to time conferences at which experience in the management
of cathedrals and other major religious buildings in use can be exchanged, and
promote the creation of a database on that subject;
ask the governments of member states to:
that adequate and appropriate lists are drawn up of major religious
buildings and sites of cultural and historical importance (according to the
general criteria applied for monument listing);
up conservation plans for each major religious monument or site in
consultation with the religious authorities involved;
partnerships between the religious authorities, local interest groups,
conservation firms and tourist organisations and co-ordinate such
initiatives on a broader national basis;
on the code of practice and encourage the multifunctional use of religious
buildings wherever appropriate;
make sure that adequate funding
is available and control provided for the proper maintenance of the major
Text adopted by the Standing Committee,
acting on behalf of the Assembly, on 9 November 2000.
Doc. 8826, report of the Committee on Culture and Education, rapporteur: Mr