A collective study from different perspectives of Law aims to shed light on a controversial issue: who owns the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba? The debate was reopened in 2018, when a report questioned the ownership of the monument and the City Council was urged to act against the registration (that is, the registration of the building under the ownership of the Catholic Church) that took place in 2006. For those responsible for the «Historical and legal study on the ownership of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba» (Dykinson), Professor of Administrative Law of the Complutense University Jorge Fernández-Miranda and Professor of Constitutional Law of the Complutense University José Carlos Cano Montejano, this is a “Inane and wicked” debate encouraged from politics and “unfounded.” According to his conclusions, from the legal point of view, it is a question that «does not raise doubts: it belongs to the Catholic Church». The published study analyzes the issue through seven chapters, from different branches of law such as administrative, constitutional, public international and ecclesiastical. The fundamental idea of the study, according to Fernández-Miranda, is that “under no circumstances” was an opinion, not an ideological or political issue, but a “strictly legal” study.
The first of the arguments that this group of jurists emphasizes to grant ownership of the monument to the Catholic Church is that of “immemorial possession.” «It is incontestable that the church has held the possession of good peacefully and recognized by all, since 1236. Anyone who lives in Córdoba knows it. It is a notorious and unquestionable fact, ”said Cano. «Although from the colloquial point of view it is understood what is meant by public good, from a legal one that statement has no way out, because it is not. That it is a good of cultural interest, something that limits the capabilities of the church, does not mean that the property is lost, ”explained the lawyer.
«It was not bought for 30 euros»
One of the statements that once raised controversy was that the Church had acquired the Cathedral-Mosque for 30 euros, the cost of the process in the property registry. «That is not right. Registration, that is, registration, is only publicity of the property. he declares it, it does not constitute it, it is prior, ”said Fernández-Miranda. That act of registration also resulted in his controversial day, but the expert clarified that it was carried out “according to law after a reform of the Mortgage Law of 1998 approved by the General Courts.” «To the question of why he had not registered before, the answer is that the Law did not allow it. Because I understood that this property was undoubted. However, other religious denominations begin to access this registry. And the Catholic Church also did it because it understood that it was a discriminatory fact. Because the registry does not grant ownership but it does protect the owner, ”added this expert.
Cultural and cult place
The nature of the building is twofold. On the one hand, as a good of cultural interest, access to citizens must be guaranteed and, on the other, being a place of worship, this activity must also be allowed. “Both principles must be respected in balance, but, if it is not possible, worship prevails, because it refers to a fundamental right, that of religious freedom, as opposed to a guiding principle of social and economic policy (access to culture ), so the first one prevails, ”Cano explained.
As for the contribution of institutions (both local and regional and state) for the conservation and maintenance of the building, for these experts it is an “obligation of the public power that does not prejudge the ownership of the good that is protected.” Therefore, according to this expert, there are legal arguments “to spare” to prove that it is “a private good” of the Catholic Church. The coordinator of the study, José Carlos Cano, refused to interpret the interests that defend that the good is public and limited himself to pointing out that “it is about bringing light on an issue that benefits public opinion and does not have a religious or ideological perspective” . “This study is only intended to benefit public opinion,” added the lawyer about a controversy that has not written his last chapter.