Spanish official: Mosque-cathedral belongs to all, not just Catholic Church

(RNS) “Religious consecration is not the way to acquire property,” said a Cordoba official, the latest salvo in a long-running debate over ownership of the unique place of worship.


(RNS) A Spanish official has rejected the Catholic Church’s claim over Cordoba’s celebrated mosque-cathedral, declaring the UNESCO-listed site the property of the people of the world.

“Religious consecration is not the way to acquire property,” Valeriano Lavela, secretary-general of the city council, wrote in a report on the long-running debate over ownership of the historic place of worship.

Lavela was quoted in The Guardian newspaper.

The city’s Great Mosque was built in the eighth century on the remains of a church and was transformed into a cathedral in the 13th century after Christian troops led by the king expelled the Muslim forces.

The building has been described by UNESCO as “an outstanding example of the religious architecture of Islam” and won a place on the World Heritage List in 1984.

Ten years ago the Diocese of Cordoba registered ownership of the mosque-cathedral. Mass continues to be held in a chapel in the building and Muslims have been banned from worshipping there, The Guardian said.

But according to the city’s new report, the Catholic Church has no right to ownership over the site.

The owners are “each and every citizen of the world from whatever epoch and regardless of people, nation, culture or race,” Lavela said.

The church has reportedly not responded to city hall’s findings.

(Rosie Scammell reports from Rome for RNS)