Bells toll as protest in Saint Joseph’s Cathedral

On Monday afternoon, Saint Joseph’s Cathedral bells started tolling as a protest to the restarting of the Cathedral Plaza project.

Ieronim Iacob, spokesperson for the Romanian- Catholic Archbishop’s Office in Bucharest said, as response to the building operations being re-started in spite of Thursday’s summons from the local authorities: “We have been tolling our bells for two hours since the morning and we won’t stop as long as building operations are still on.” Bell tolling is, according to the Catholic Church, normally a sign that Christians should come to Mass, but in special circumstances, it is an alert of danger for the Christian community. “ At this very moment, a crane is being operated a few meters from the cathedral roof, so we do consider ourselves in danger, ” Iacob added. This is the development of a longer dispute between the Millenium Building Development group and representatives of the Catholic Church in Bucharest. The project for raising an office building in the immediate vicinity of Saint Joseph Cathedral, a national heritage monument, was authorized in February 2006 by City Hall. Works have started in March of that year; after only a week the Roman- Catholic Archbishop’s office disputed the case in front of a judge panel and works have stalled for three years, bringing the Millenium Company a 20 million euro prejudice. A court order was canceling the building authorization, but the company petitioned for recourse.

The Archbishop’s Office in Bucharest issued a press release yesterday reading: “ In case works are not stopped today, all the Catholic churches in Bucharest will start tolling as a sign of protest.” The action will continue in the upcoming days in all Catholic dioceses throughout the country.

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