Kelemen Hunor, qualified as “extravagant” the Government’s decision to allot RON 10 M for the project.
“It’s extravagant, very extravagant, but there is solidarity within the Cabinet and I have to abide by the Government’s decision. I, for one, have never supported it and I do not think 2011 is the best year to allot such an amount from the state budget to the Salvation Cathedral. Without meaning to offend anyone, it was an exaggerated decision,” Kelemen Hunor said in an interview with RFI, quoted by Mediafax.
When asked by RFI whether he had also opposed the decision in the Cabinet meeting, he said: “This isn’t a question of … and it’s irrelevant whether I opposed it or not … I did not agree with such an intervention from the state budget, for such a construction, in 2011, but government solidarity, beyond my personal position, forces me to refrain from any comments, aside from voicing my opinion. This is how it is! In a Government, when a decision is made, each minister has to abide by that decision”.
The Government decided to allot RON 10 M to the building of the National Salvation Cathedral, funds which will, nevertheless, cover only a portion of the money needed to complete works, while the rest is to be covered from the Patriarchy’s own resources.
“The Government responded to a request made by the Romanian Patriarchy and decided to allot RON 10 M to the building of the National Salvation Cathedral. The amount requested covers only partly the funds needed to complete the works, which are to be performed in 2011, while the remaining funds will be covered out of their own resources,” the spokesperson for the Government, Ioana Muntean, stated.
The Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Blessed Daniel, called on the Speaker of the Lower Chamber, Roberta Anastase, in a letter sent at the end of the preceding year, for her support in allotting, in 2011, RON 20 M from the state budget to the building of the National Salvation Cathedral.
The Patriarchy stated that, in the 2009 state budge law, it had been allotted RON 5 M, used in its entirety by the Patriarchy as stipulated, and, in 2010, although it had asked for RON 20 M, no funds were allotted from the state budget. In September 2010, the Patriarchy claimed the funds needed to build the National Salvation Cathedral would be obtained by taking a loan from one or several banks, a loan whose grace period would extend until the completion of the works and which would be reimbursed out of donations from Romanian Orthodox Christians living in Romania and elsewhere, and not out of state funds.
According to plans, the cathedral will be 120 metres-long, 70 metres-wide and 120 metres-high. The building will host 15 offices, and will be able to accommodate up to 5,000 faithful during services.
The project was sharply criticized by several NGOs, which argue this decision is yet another trespass on the secular state and defies the dramatic situation that the Romanians find themselves in, following the dramatic austerity measures imposed by the government, under the terms of the agreement with the IMF.