The Church acknowledges that it improperly put close to a thousand assets in its name. With the arrival of Pedro Sánchez in Moncloa, the Episcopal Conference was forced to make public the list of real estate that it registered thanks to a law by José María Aznar that allowed it to do so with only an ecclesiastical certification. After the publication of the 34,961 assets (20,014 intended for worship and 14,947 for different uses), a negotiation was launched between the Government and the Episcopal Conference to analyze the list and, after several months of talks, the Church assumes that 965 of those goods do not belong to him. Now the regularization process will begin while the commission created to examine registrations continues its work.
SEARCHER | Garages, houses, farms or orchards: the registrations of the Church, one by one
The agreement by which the Episcopal Conference recognizes that it is not the legitimate owner of the real estate that it put in its name between 1998 and 2015 has been sealed at the highest level in a meeting between Pedro Sánchez and the Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños , who is responsible for the religious relations of the State, with the president of the bishops, Juan José Omella.
This is the first major agreement reached by the Government and the Episcopal Conference within the framework of the three subcommissions that were created with the arrival of Sánchez to power: one to analyze the list of unregistered assets, another to study taxation and another to the Pious Work of Rome. In the first meeting between Bolaños and Omella in August, the recently appointed Minister of the Presidency urged the Cardinal to speed up the work on the list of registrations. The details were finalized in a meeting they held last Tuesday.
Now the regularization begins
“The Episcopal Conference, in the context of dialogue with the Government, has made an exhaustive study of it through timely consultations with the dioceses. Said study has consisted of the cataloging of the assets, their division by diocese and verification of the registration processes in each of the aforementioned assets,” explains the joint statement from Moncloa and the Church after the meeting on Monday: “The analysis carried out by the Church of said list, within the framework of the aforementioned Commission, has revealed a set of assets that the Church considers to belong to a third party or is not aware of its ownership over it.
The Church admits, therefore, that it improperly registered nearly a thousand assets. The majority are farms (502 rural and 151 urban), but also places of worship (179), homes (98) and cemeteries (28). Of the 965, the Church recognizes that 757, despite being registered in his name, belong to another owner and that 208 of the assets that he registered without corresponding to him are now in the hands of third parties because he has sold or transferred them, for example.
After recognition by the Church, the next step will be to put the list in the hands of the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) so that the corresponding municipalities can proceed to identify the legitimate owners. “The forecast is that the Government informs the local entities and the registries of this information and they can, in this way, initiate the regularization processes that, where appropriate, may correspond. For these purposes, the Church expresses its commitment to collaborate in order to facilitate such processes,” the joint statement states.
However, the work of the subcommittee will continue as there are at least 73 properties on which there is incomplete or contradictory information that must continue to be analyzed. Government sources also point out that this body can be used to analyze the claims of people who consider that they have the right of ownership over some property that appears on the list of registrations without having to go to court for their claim.
What about the Cordoba mosque?
The Mosque of Córdoba is one of the most emblematic places of worship of which the Church registered despite not having a written domain title. Faced with the claim of public ownership, the Church claims its property. Government sources point out that the mosque is not one of the assets under analysis and that its claim has a “specific regime” since it is a “singular place of worship”. The Government’s intention is to find a negotiated solution with the Episcopal Conference and the Córdoba City Council.