Pantheon with an admission fee? Here’s what the Chapter of Canons say about it.
Concerning the admission fee which the Ministry of Culture has asked to introduce for the Pantheon, it should be remembered that the matter is rather complex, in that the Pantheon is a Christian basilica open for worship and thus subject to the relative laws about churches deriving from the Agreement between the Italian Republic and the Catholic Church.
In the last meeting between the Chapter of the Canons and the Ministry, the following fundamental principles were specified as necessarily to be taken into account if an entrance fee is to be introduced:
- the Chapter of the Canons of the Basilica is not a “third party” but the ecclesiastical party of a situation which is subject to mixed law;
- the laws laid down in the State/Church agreement are unavoidably applicable;
- worship and religious activity must take priority and be fully protected;
Any solution which might be found for the Pantheon must remain an exception (just as direct control of a church by the Ministry is exceptional and unique), and it must not become an example or a model to be automatically applied to other churches in Rome.
The Chapter, which has no intention of receiving any part of the profits deriving from the admission fees, desires that the cost of the ticket be small and that the ticket office (and any additional museum services) be located outside the Pantheon. During the religious activity and worship freely planned by the Chapter, admission for worshippers must remain absolutely free. The necessary information and notifications concerning this activity must thus be provided for online ticket distribution. The possibility of personal prayer must also be guaranteed, reserving for this the use of the inner chapel of the Madonna, where the Eucharist is customarily kept.
The economic needs of the Chapter and its international charity activities will continue to be exclusively covered by worshippers’ free offers. The Chapter’s evangelisation and catechesis activities shall remain unaltered, as for example the initiative “from Tourist to Pilgrim” and the Art/faith interactive initiatives.
In the next meetings, the Minister will present a draft proposal from which to create a proper article to be integrated into the Convention between the Chapter and the Ministry currently in force. This Convention, approved by the Cardinal Vicar, will then be signed by the Chapter and the admission fee can finally be introduced.