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 By: Inga Reča – 26.04.2006

[Latvia] Government Decides in Favour of the Lutherans

Return of St. Peter’s Church to the ELCIR: Ministers in Favour, Saeima Still Has to Decide

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St. Peter's Church in Riga
“One of the arguments for the return of Riga’s St. Peter’s Church to the Church was the petition of active church members,” the church secretary of the cathedral parish, Kaspars Upītis, said. He was one of the members of the working party of the ELCL, who participated in the session of the Cabinet of Ministers on April 4th, in which the government resolved upon the return of St. Peter’s Church to the Church.
The Mayor of Riga, Aivars Aksenoks, said that the town council, who had been responsible for the place of worship until now, wanted to continue maintaining it this way, but did not want to bristle against this resolution of the government and insist upon its owner’s rights. During the past months, there were press reports that the town council wanted to insist upon its owner’s rights, because it had invested many resources for the renovation and preservation of the church building, and doubted that the parish could continue to maintain the building. In addition, well-known figures of society vocalised their concern in open letters, that different cultural events could not take place anymore, if the parish assumed the role of the landlord.
The ELCL church board rejects these concerns. Minister of Justice Solvita Āboltiņa informed the ministers in the session that there were more cultural events at neighbouring St. John’s Church than at St. Peter’s Church when directed by the town council. “Has concert life in the cathedral suffered any losses?” the church secretary of the cathedral parish, Kaspars Upītis, asked. The cathedral administration continues the concert tradition that was started and also found a possibility to keep the cathedral open daily. Furthermore, believers are able to pray undisturbed in St. Mary’s Chapel. Nor do they have to pay an entrance fee for it.
The pastor of St. Peter’s Church, Atis Vaickovskis, expressed himself sceptical; he had not been completely convinced that St. Peter’s Church would pass into the ownership of the Church again. Until May 31st, the Ministry of Justice has to submit a bill regarding the owner’s rights of the ELCL. Afterwards, the Saeima has to decide about it.

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