Spain: Cordoba cathedral shared with a mosque? (continued)

Source: FSSPX News


Regarding the controversy surrounding the shared use of the cathedral of Cordoba, a former medieval mosque, by Catholics and Muslims (see DICI n° 95), Mgr. Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, is asking the Muslims “to accept history”, “without desiring revenge”, just as the Catholics do not claim back their former buildings, taken over by Islam through the centuries. And he added, “The pope has visited the mosque of the Umayyades in Damascus, and prayed there in front of the mausoleum of Saint John the Baptist, which is in this former Byzantine church. But he did not ask to celebrate Mass there”. (Asia News, April 29)

“The use of communal places by diverse religious communities is problematic. Such places exist, as for example, the chapels at airports. But they are neither true churches or real mosques. They are interreligious spaces,” explained Mgr. Fitzgerald, who stressed that the disposition of these places allowed their common usage to several religions. “This is not the case at Cordoba, where the building belongs to a particular community”.

Asked about the argument, according to which, a place of worship becomes Islamic ground, as soon as Muslims have prayed there – Cordoba Cathedral was, in the Middle Ages, a church before becoming a mosque – the archbishop replied “not always”, and pointed out that “Muslims had prayed at the Vatican, without, for all that, laying claim to it. A street where Muslims may pray does not belong to them. The Spanish authorities do not have the theological sensitivity to understand the Church’s position on this matter,” concluded Mgr. Fitzgerald.

It is true that Mansur Escudero, secretary general of the Spanish Islamic Council, had announced that he had sent a request, to the Holy See, that the cathedral of Cordoba become the first Church in the world, where Christians and Muslims could pray together. Moreover, the Muslims of the town, supported by the municipality, considering that such a gesture would be a step forward in interreligious dialogue and ecumenism, had sent a similar request to Mgr. Asenjo Pelegrino, the bishop of Cordoba.

The Cordoban controversy dates back more than ten years, and was re-launched in March, during a meeting on the subject of the formation of priests and imams, organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the World Islamic Call Society. The Spanish Muslim delegates presented their request and a letter to the mayor of Cordoba, calling for communal use for Muslims and Catholics, of the Andalusian cathedral. The petition remains unanswered, but at the end of the meeting Mgr. Fitzgerald told them that “the use of a cathedral was the responsibility of the local bishop”.

The controversy is currently at a standstill. The bishop is remaining discreet and wants to allow time for the situation to calm down. Nevertheless, in order to avoid any incidents, the entrances to the cathedral are now being guarded.

It should be known that, in the context of the September 11 attack in New York, terrorist propaganda films have been found in Spain, which recall the prestigious Muslim past of Al-Andalus (Andalusia), rejecting the Spanish Reconquista, in a country confronted today, by high level of Muslim immigration. Cordoba is currently the Muslim center of Spain. On the banks of the Guadalquivir, stands the first Islamic university of Spain and, at Aldomovar del Rio (about twenty kilometers away), is the International Islamic Internet Center of the Roger Garaudy Foundation (Garaudy was a French communist who converted to Islam). And, as in Europe, some of the 200 Spanish mosques have been financed partly by Saudi Arabia, which advocates a radical wahhabite Islam.