Cardinal Defends Cathedral Against Skyscraper

Romanian Leader Admonished for Construction Plan

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 18, 2009 ( Benedict XVI’s secretary of state expressed concern to the prime minister of Romania about ongoing plans to build a skyscraper close to the Bucharest cathedral, potentially damaging the foundation of the church.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and his collaborator Archbishop Dominique Mamberti spoke Thursday with Emil Boc about the construction issue. The Romanian leader and a delegation from his government were visiting the Vatican, also meeting Wednesday with the Pope after the general audience.

Vatican Radio reported that the leaders discussed St. Joseph’s Cathedral. In 2007, the Holy Father had already expressed his concern about plans for the skyscraper construction. A recent legal decision in Romania again gave the go-ahead to the project, despite the cathedral being one of nation’s historical architectural monuments.

The Vatican press office informed that the meeting also provided «a fruitful exchange of opinions on topics of international importance and the identification of some aspects of international cooperation between the Holy See and Romania.»

According to a note from the Romanian embassy to the Holy See, published before the meeting, the officials hoped to give «a new impetus to dialogue and to the excellent bilateral relations.»
The prime minister also planned to invite Cardinal Bertone to Romania.

According to the note, the prime minister wanted to express gratitude for the «Holy See’s constant support of Romanians of the diaspora,» especially «the Orthodox, Catholic and Greek-Catholic religious communities and Romanian parishes in Europe.»

The Romanian diaspora is the term given to those of ethnic Romanian origin living outside of the nation. The number of those in the diaspora was estimated by the Romanian president to be 8 million in 2006.

The Romanian government, the note affirmed, «gives great importance to the religious communities of the diaspora, as important instruments for maintaining the national identity and for good integration in host societies.»

Romania has more than 21 million inhabitants, 85% of whom are Orthodox, 6% Catholics of the Latin and Byzantine rites, and 7% Protestants.

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