Same Name, Different Case

American law and religion scholars know the case of St. Nicholas Cathedral, a Supreme Court decision from the 1950s, about which Rick Garnett has  written recently. Briefly, the case involved a dispute over a Russian Orthodox cathedral in New York between two parish councils, one loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate and the other loyal to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), a group that broke away from the Communist-dominated Patriarchate in the twentieth century. It turns out that a similar dispute has been making its way through the French courts. Since the fall of Communism, the Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR have reestablished communion, and the Patriarchate has been reasserting its right to church properties around the world, including St. Nicholas Cathedral in Nice (above), an impressive, onion-domed structure, reputedly the largest Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe. The local parish council objected to returning St. Nicholas to Moscow and a six-year legal battle ensued. The battle ended last week, when the local council sadly turned over the keys to the Patriarch’s representative. The story is here, from a local paper (in French).

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