LONDON – Britain should follow the example of Pope Francis, who recently returned fragments of the Parthenon Marbles held in the Vatican to Greece, thus helping to “foster some much-needed friendship for the UK in Europe,” according to an article by Rachel Sanderson in “Bloomberg” entitled “Greece’s Elgin Marbles Are Not Britain’s to Keep”.
Quoting a Vatican statement that the decision was prompted by a “sincere desire to follow in the ecumenical path of truth,” the author noted that the 50th anniversary of the return of democratic rule to Greece in 2024 will be an “ideal opportunity” for such a gesture.
The article presents the Greek arguments in favour of the sculptures’ return and the efforts of the Parthenon Project, which is working with both the British Museum and the Acropolis Museum to find a solution, while noting the UK government’s refusal to change a 1963 law that forbids the museum “from disposing of its holdings”.
The anniversary of the restoration of democratic rule in Greece on July 24, 2024 will be an opportunity for “an unencumbered gift of the marbles” to the people of Greece, the article proposes, noting that the UK has over a year to make perfect copies and replace the sculptures in the British Museum.
It also notes that such debates represent a “sea change” in global public discourse regarding the return of works of art, and a global rethink of “giving back something when it is wrongly there.”