Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Parishioners of St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Nice Demand the Abolition of Paid Entrance Fees to Their Church

Filed under: Christian,church/state,EU,Orthodox life,religious,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Nice, built with imperial Privy Purse funds… as the Russian Federation’s the legal successor of the Russian Empire, it’s the owner of the building… QED. The French courts agree. Gabriel’s band of merry buccaneers will lose their main source of funds. Boo-hoo!


They also fear further deterioration in the Cathedral’s condition…

Parishioners of St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Nice expressed their disagreement with current practise of charging an entrance fee to enter their church.” The vast majority of visitors to the Cathedral are Russian believers who come to our church not to gawk at a museum, but primarily to pray. As [the parish administration] outrageously charges an entrance fee to enter God’s church, this arouses indignation in believers”, a parishioner told our Interfax-Religion correspondent on Wednesday. Adult entry costs 3 Euros (120 Roubles. 4.25 USD. 2.65 UK Pounds), for students and members of groups of 10 people, its 2 Euros (80 Roubles. 2.85 USD. 1.75 UK Pound), and for children under 12-years-old and people with disabilities, it’s free of charge. According to parishioners, the daily income from such fees to the EP “Parisian” parish administration squatting in the cathedral at present, contrary to court rulings, is about 2,000 Euros (79,524 Roubles. 2,830 USD. 1,756 UK Pounds). Our interlocutors also pointed up another aspect of the problem… when Western Europeans visit the Church and pay an entrance fee at the door, they think that their visit is to a purely secular site, so, they come in shorts and t-shirts, having none of the “awed and respectful reverence that should be inherent in those who visit holy places”.

In addition, parishioners expressed concerns about the deteriorating state of the cathedral. As reported in late June, a big chunk of plaster fell from one side of the nave of the cathedral. Miraculously, no one was hurt. The administration closed the temple to visitors, but it later reopened. Steeplejacks cleared away some other hazards, and workmen repaired the damaged site inside the church. A parishioner noted, “However, no one knows when or where the next collapse will occur, because the building’s seen hard use, and it’s going to be in a sorry state for its centenary in 2012, it’s sad to see such an imperial cathedral in such a wretched condition”. In particular, fungal infestation has seriously damaged the icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” over the altar and the painted floral ornamentation on the walls of the cathedral.

Parishioners called for the parish administration to hand over the keys to the building to a responsible agent of the RF government, to observe everything that goes on there. Recently, Vladimir Kozhin, a member of the RF Presidential Administration, went on a business trip to Nice, according to a statement made to Interfax-Religion by his spokesman, Viktor Khrekov (the Press Secretary for the RF Embassy in France), on Wednesday. “His objective was to determine the steps that the RF needed to take to effectively place the cathedral under its control. He met with the mayor of Nice, to verify what’s necessary to carry out this transfer”, he said.

In May 2011, the Court of Appeal of Aix-en-Provence (France) recognised that the Russian Federation was the owner of St Nicholas Cathedral in Nice. At the time, commenting on this decision, Viktor Khrekov told us, “We’ll continue to work for the return of Russian property, and, when we receive a final decision, we’ll settle the formalities of administration, we’ll take stock of the situation at the cathedral, and take appropriate actions, in the interests of the believers who worship there”. Commenting on the current reluctance of the current occupants to hand over the church to its rightful Russian owners, Khrekov noted, “For them, the cathedral is a ‘cash cow’. They sell tickets for admission, according to various estimates, they earn up to one million Euros (39.73 million Roubles 1.41 million USD 878,000 UK Pounds) a year”, explaining that the church did hold services, but they use it primarily as “a moneymaking tourist attraction”.

13 July 2011



Editor’s Note:

I’ll tell you why there’s a dissonance between the figures offered by parishioners and by Mr Khrekov regarding the entrance fees taken by the St Nicholas Cathedral administration… the parishioners are noting the amount taken “at the door”. According to informed sources, that isn’t the main source of such fees. Many tour coach operators make arrangements to pay them in advance, and this makes up the vast lion’s share of the receipts from admittance fees.

In short, if Gabriel de Vylder loses this source of funds, it, for all intents and purposes, shuts off the cash spigot for the Parisian gang. It’ll cut off the slop chute for the Parisian swine. Of course, they’ll do what every group facing this does. They’ll deny, deny, deny (look at the present OCA and ROCOR and you’ll see another fine example of that)… they’ll claim that there’s NO problem at all. Well, what’ll happen? Firstly, they’ve spun it out in the courts as long as they could. Secondly, after the RF takes formal possession of the real property and its fixed assets, they’ll sell off what other tangibles (property, securities, gold, and jewels) they have and empty their bank accounts to maintain their present establishment. Thirdly, when that runs out, they’ll go hat in hand to the OCA, probably, through Behr in SVS. Of course, the OCA hasn’t a pot to piss in… therefore, they’ll try to get the ROCOR to kick into the kitty to aid their Parisian pals (the ROCOR doesn’t have much either… but it hasn’t had the same amount of costly “legal settlements” that the OCA has had).

Fathausen’s in the kimchi… the Deanery of New York State demanded a 50 percent reduction in Central OCA assessments… the Storheim case is a “gift that keeps on giving”… James Silver is bloviating about his pal RSK again… “Love BT” keeps resurfacing and spills ever more “juicy nuggets” (just because he’s cruel and nasty doesn’t mean that he speaks the truth on occasion… you can say the same of Lebedeff). If that wasn’t enough, now, this plops on their plate. Don’t forget, ADS came out of the Parisian Renovationist cabal, so, he brought over some of them and installed them in high OCA situations. That means that the institutional culture of the OCA is suffused with an overblown regard for these guys. When Gabriel (or his successor (if any), as de Vylder is sick with cancer, I’m told) comes hat in hand to Syosset, SVS will stamp its foot, hold its breath, stage a childish tantrum, and demand that the OCA cough up something. It’s not going to be boring, kids… that’s fer shure! Hold on tight, the old structures are just as infested with mildew and rot as St Nicholas Cathedral is. In the case of the cathedral, things can be put right with a change of owner and an infusion of cash directed in the proper direction. Gee… that’s what the Church here in the American diaspora needs, too… a change of owner and having the cash flow directed to the proper objects (instead of having apparatchiki drones steal the better part of the pie (take that, John Dresko)).

It’s NEVER uninteresting in diaspora Orthodoxy, is it? As for me, after we put this right, I’m all for a little “boredom”… we deserve that, don’t we?



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