First Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo presented a report in the Council of Ministers on Tuesday. This contained an overview of all real estate in Spain that the Catholic Church has legally appropriated in recent decades.
The list includes the Mezquita of Cordoba and the Giralda of Seville
During the reign of José María Aznar (PP) an amendment was passed in 1996. This allowed the Catholic Church to easily register property in the name of the Church. It happened in the period between 1998 and 2015. There were a total of 34,961 property registrations recorded in the cadastre during this period. Furthermore, it concerns more than 20,000 churches and nearly 15,000 pieces of land, estates, buildings and houses.
In April last year, the Spanish government announced it was going to investigate the size of the assets of the Catholic Church. It is by no means a modest appropriation! The list includes the famous Mezquita of Córdoba and the twelfth-century Giralda of Seville. In 2017, the House of Representatives submitted a request to the then Prime Minister Rajoy to start an investigation into the heritage in the name of the Catholic Church. At the time, the government did not comply with this.
A secular state does not grant privileges to the church
In January last year, Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez announced that he would implement the necessary legislative changes. As a result, any Spanish heritage falsely registered in the name of the Catholic Church will become state property again. “It doesn’t make sense that in a secular state any belief is above the law or enjoys privileges that undermine the principles of legality and equality,” the prime minister said last year. With some delay due to the corona pandemic, the report providing an overview of the Spanish heritage has been prepared. This has been conducted by the Ministry of the Presidency, of which First Deputy Prime Minister Calvo is the minister.
Cooperation of all dioceses in Spain
Spokesman and Secretary General Luis Argüello of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference (CEE) has said that with the publication of the Heritage List listing more than 34,000 properties, the Catholic Church should not be portrayed as a “large Spanish real estate company or landowner”. Argüello emphasises that the church never intended to acquire property improperly and that nothing illegal has ever happened. Likewise, the CEE spokesperson is of the opinion that there should no longer be any property in the name of the Catholic Church to which other institutions or persons would be more entitled. Argüello therefore fully supports the investigation into the assets of the church and has requested all dioceses of Spain to cooperate fully.