Wall dividing Catholics, Protestants down down after 300 years

Berlin, Germany - Doors are to be knocked in a metre-thick wall that has divided the Catholic and Protestant communities in the church of the German town of Mosbach for 300 years, church officials said Thursday. A festival to mark breaking doors through the wall is to be held on July 27, with mass being said on the Catholic side and an evangelical service held on the Protestant side.

After the services, the door will be officially opened for representatives of the two communities to extend the hand of peace to each other.

After the 16th century reformation, saying the Catholic mass in the town's Gothic church was banned, until in 1685 the local prince, Philipp Wilhelm, a Catholic, instituted freedom of worship.

He ordered the two communities to share the facilities of the St Juliana church. As they could not agree, the church was divided in two.

The local Catholic priest, Father Klaus Bader, said he would have preferred to knock the entire wall down, but this was not possible as it is listed as a protected monument.

The two communities in the town of some 25,000 in south-western Germany have agreed to divide the costs of some 38,000 euros (60,000 dollars) equally.