Netherlands' main Catholic cathedral may be sold for €1

Interior view of the Sint Catharina Cathedral in Utrecht
Interior view of the Sint Catharina Cathedral in Utrecht. (Photo: Dnllnd/Wikimedia Commons)

The Sint Catharina Cathedral in Utrecht may be sold for only 1 euro. The cathedral, which dates from 1560 and where the archbishop - the highest Catholic clergy in the Netherlands - celebrates mass, is too expensive to maintain, especially with the diminishing number of worshippers, the Volkskrant reports.

The Sint Catharina Cathedral on Lange Nieuwstraat served the function of cathedral since 1853, when the Episcopal hierarchy in the Protestant Netherlands was restored after a centuries-long interruption, according to the newspaper. But the high cost of maintenance and use can no longer be borne by the three cooperating inner-city parishes, which are also responsible for the maintenance of the monumental Augustinus Curch on Oudegracht. The parishes face an annual budget deficit of 400 thousand euros and one of the two churches has to close, the parish board established last year.

As the Sint Catharina Cathedral is more expensive to maintain, it seems the rational choice to close that church. The parish board already conducted "exploratory talks" with the Museum Catharijneconvent about possibly selling the church tot he museum for a symbolic amount of 1 euro. Before this happens, the parish board will ask archbishop Wim Eijk to withdraw the status of cathedral from the Sint Catharina. And as it is not just an ordinary parish church, the Vatican also has to give its concent.

The parishioners are dead against the closure of the Sint Catharina Cathedral, according to the Volkskrant. They launched a petition that was signed 1,800 times in a short period. 

Last year archbishop Eijk said that the more than 200 churches currently in the archdiocese of Utrecht will dwindle to around 20 in the next decade. Eijk has long since reconciled himself with that development. The number of churches may dwindle, but the quality of the faith will only increase as only the most devoted believers remain, he recently said to Italian newspaper Il Messagero.