February 26, 2021

The Government identifies 34,961 assets unregistered by the Church thanks to the Aznar law and activates the process for their claim


34,961 are finally the real estate that the Catholic Church Enrolled thanks to a law promoted by José María Aznar in 1998 that allowed buildings, apartments or farms to be registered in his name with only an ecclesiastical certification. The Council of Ministers sees this Tuesday the report prepared by the Vice Presidency of the Presidency, Relations with the Courts and Democratic Memory and will send it to Congress, as reported by government sources to elDiario.es. From there, the list of the more than thirty thousand properties and real estate may be submitted to public consultation so that individuals who consider they have property rights over them can initiate the claim processes.

The Mosque of Córdoba or the Giralda of Seville: what are the registration of the Church and how it was done with them

The Mosque of Córdoba or the Giralda of Seville: what are the registration of the Church and how it was done with them

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Aznar promoted a modification of the Mortgage Law that allowed the Church to register thousands of farms in his name with a simple ecclesiastical certification. During the Franco dictatorship, a law allowed the Church to register temples with only the signature of a bishop. Aznar’s regulations extended that privilege to places that were not of worship. This procedure was in force until 2015, when this regulation was modified. In that seventeen-year period, the Church registered a total of 34,961 assets according to the report that has come “in hand” to the Council of Ministers, that is, without being previously included on the agenda, according to the same sources.

The registration list is a long-standing claim. The PSOE promoted a non-law proposal in the Justice Commission of Congress in which it urged the then Government of Mariano Rajoy to draw up that list so that the process of recovery of the assets could be launched by whoever considered they had property rights over them. The motion was approved with the vote against PP and Ciudadanos in 2017. When Pedro Sánchez arrived in Moncloa, the Ministry of Justice that Dolores Delgado headed then began the work that has now been completed by Carmen Calvo’s department, which is the one that guides relations with the religious orders. “With the referral to Congress of the list, it will be possible from now on the origin of these registrations, which could make it possible to claim the assets in case of conflict over their ownership,” they explain in Moncloa.

Some of the emblematic monuments that the Church has registered for just a few euros are the Mosque of Córdoba in 2006, the Giralda and the Cathedral of Seville in 2010 or the Cathedral of Zaragoza – known as the Seo -. To this list we must add the Cathedral of Valladolid, that of the Good Shepherd of Donostia, and those of Granada, Jaca and Malaga. However, the list also includes real estate that has nothing to do with religious activity, such as apartments or garages. In fact, the report that the College of Registrars sent to the Government stated that more than half of these unregistered assets were of this type. That document also showed that only in 4,075 cases did the Church provide any title to property beyond its own certification.

Based on that report, the Government has addressed with the Church the issue of registration, which is added to taxation, another of the issues that Pedro Sánchez intends to modify in his mandate. The First Vice President has already started talks with the Episcopal Conference on the intention that the Church pay IBI for the places that it has at its disposal and that are not of worship. “We want the Church to respond to taxation as in France or Italy,” Calvo said in an interview before meeting with the Vatican nuncio in Spain. This issue was also addressed in the meeting he held with the Pope’s number two, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

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