Beliefs Culture Institutions News Revelations

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


(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)

About the author

Rosie Scammell

Rosie Scammell is a British journalist with extensive experience reporting for leading international news organizations. She has been based in Italy since 2012 and covers the Vatican for RNS.


Click here to post a comment

  • “Christian troops expelled Muslims in the 13th century”?? They were definitely not true Christians since Jesus said to return the sword to its place, as those who use the sword will die by it. He only promoted peace, loving our fellowman sourselves, and even loving our enemies.

  • You call it loving to allow an entire city to be captured and reduced to 2nd class citizens under Sharia?
    This who forget history…

  • You are sick in the head, They have killed 700 million since its inception; they have killed 300 million Christians; You have every right to defend yourself, against people, who preach it is ok kill Christians, Jews, and other non muslims; ok to have women as sex slaves,; ok to have children as sex slaves…ok to behead, steal, lie, cheat, murder…..I guess, you also agree, female genital mutilation, need i go go further…

    WAKE UP.

  • And what of all the pre-Reformation cathedrals and churches in England, Scotland and Ireland that were once the property of the Catholic church and forcibly handed over to the new state church that Henry VIII created? Will those be declared world property too, or is there any chance that they may be returned to the Catholic church? And for crying out loud, isn’t it also time to allow Catholics in Great Britain the right to recover the names of their ancient dioceses and sees?