Paris, November 1, 2011
A Nice court has ordered the Constantinople Patriarchate to hand over the keys to St. Nicholas Cathedral in Nice to Russian representatives within seven days, the local media have reported.
Under the court ruling, there will be a penalty of 6,000 euros for every day of delay.
Russia previously filed suit asking the court to order the community of the Constantinople Patriarchate, which is using the cathedral, to give Russian representatives access to the building and give them a complete set of keys to the cathedral.
On May 19, a French court ruled against the Constantinople Patriarchate, upholding Russia's ownership rights to the cathedral. Russia, in turn, made a decision to hand the church over to the Corsun Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate for free and unlimited use. However, the Constantinople Patriarchate is dragging out the handover of keys.
In late September, the Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe (the Constantinople Patriarchate) said it continues to consider itself a lawful user of St. Nicholas Cathedral.
"The community of the Constantinople Patriarchate has no intention of leaving the cathedral, but it has had to stop charging for entrance, which, in turn, led to the dismissal of all staff who received visitors and maintained the church, since there was no money to pay them, and the closure of the cathedral to visitors outside of service hours," the Exarchate said in a statement.