THE PROTECTION OF SACRAL ART MONUMENTS IN THE LIGHT OF THE CURRENT LAW OF CATHOLIC CHURCH (Ochrona zabytków sztuki sakralnej w swietle aktualnego prawa kosciola katolickiego)
The preservation of historical-artistic heritage has always been a great concern of the Church, which perceived it as visible testimony of evangelisation and a tool of pastoral work. This trend is evidenced by the cultural property stored in churches, Church museums, libraries, and archives as well as numerous pertinent regulations in Church legislation. Valuable instructions were provided by the Second Vatican Council (1963) and during the post Vaticanum II period. The protection of sacral art is mentioned in the Code of Canon Law from 1983 and the Pastor Bonus apostolic Constitution of John Paul II from 1988, establishing the Pontifical Commission of Preserving the Church's Patrimony of Art and History, which in 1993 became known as the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church. The Commission issued a number of valuable documents concerning the protection of the cultural heritage of the Church, i. a. a circular letter on the Necessity and Urgent Need for Inventories and Catalogues of Church Cultural Property (1999) and The Pastoral Function of Church Museums (2001), published in a valuable collection of documents entitled “Enchiridion” of Church Cultural Property (Bologna 2002). Their reception in Poland has been, and continues to be, the task of the Conference of the Episcopate of Poland and the Council for Culture and the Protection of Cultural Heritage (formerly: the Episcopate Commission for Church Art), acting within the Conference, which has issued numerous norms regulating the protection of cultural heritage and the functioning of Church museums, published in the collection 'Dokumenty duszpastersko-liturgiczne Episkopatu Polski' 1966-1998 (The Pastoral-liturgical Documents of the Episcopate of Poland 1966-1998). Much attention to this issue has been also paid by the Second Polish Plenary Synod 1991-1999 (Poznan 2001), which decided that: The protection of monuments consists, on the one hand, on their inventories and, on the other hand, on securing them. Particular responsibility for the protection of the monuments of Church art lies with parish priests and rectors of historical churches. The resolutions of the state statute on the protection of historical monuments are binding since they express joint civic concern for salvaging the national patrimony… Particularly valuable objects, and especially those withdrawn from the cult, can be transferred to a diocesan museum or augment a parish collection. The same pertains to archives and parish book collections. The purpose of museums and collections is not only to protect the monuments but also specific pastoral impact realised by permanent and periodic expositions. Protection is also due to the surrounding of historical churches, the so-called church cemetery together with the bell tower and trees (pp. 68-70). Diocesan synods, the Council for Culture and the Protection of Cultural Heritage at the Conference of the Episcopate of Poland and the Centre of Church Archives, Libraries and Museums at the Catholic University of Lublin play an important part in the popularisation of the protection of cultural heritage and monuments of Church art.
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