Spanish bishop rejects Muslims’ request to worship in cathed

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    OXFORD, England (CNS) — Bishop Juan Asenjo Pelegrina of Cordoba, Spain, has rejected calls by Muslims to be allowed to worship in the Cordoba cathedral, which in medieval times was a mosque.

    Bishop Asenjo said the Cordoba Diocese is “not against Muslims having a worthy place of worship, just as it also wishes this for Christians living in countries with a Muslim majority,” but “the shared use of Cordoba cathedral by Catholics and Muslims would not contribute to peaceful interfaith relations.”

    Spain’s Islamic Board, which represents a community of 800,000 in the traditionally Catholic country of 44 million, recently wrote to Pope Benedict XVI requesting Vatican authorization to share the cathedral.

    In a Dec. 27 statement responding to the request, Bishop Asenjo said he believed Cordoba’s “relatively small” Muslim minority — less than 1 percent of its 350,000 inhabitants — did not need extra facilities.

    Bishop Asenjo said his diocese favored “relations of respect and appreciation” with Muslims and hoped to maintain dialogue.

    However, he added, the Catholic Church held “irrefutable historic titles” to exclusive use of the cathedral and believed that sharing it would “only generate confusion among the faithful and give rise to religious skepticism.”

    “The Christian roots of Cordoba and its 1,700-year Christian history deserve respect,” said the bishop. “Catholics in Cordoba wish to live in peace with believers of other creeds. But we do not want to be continually subjected to pressure that contributes nothing.”

    Built in 785 on the ruins of a Visigothic basilica, Cordoba’s 70,000-square-foot mosque was turned into a cathedral after the city’s recapture from the Moors by King Ferdinand III in 1236. It was dedicated as a cathedral in 1523.

    In 2004, a group of Muslims demanded the right to worship in the cathedral, but they were criticized by Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, then-president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

    Mansur Escudero, the Islamic Board’s secretary-general, said Dec. 26 he had relayed the most recent request to the pope, hoping to “awaken the consciences” of Catholics and Muslims and help bury past confrontations. … 700064.htm



    I think Pope John Paul II is a perfect example of the latitude that we find in the Catholic Church to express our own individual personalities, and still remain within the Catholic fold. However I think that under the Pontificate of Pope Benedict, we may see more bishops around the world following his lead, and growing a spine. Drawing clearly observable lines that distinguish what is and is not acceptable for Catholic and Non-Catholics does not in fact distance us from our Non-Catholic and Non-Christian Brothers and Sisters, but rather is like the lamp that shines for all to see. Under the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II (In my fully fallible opinion) The light of the Catholic Faith, was guarded by the Pope, but sometimes hidden under a bushel, in order to not offend other religions. Putting the “Fullness of the Truth” as an example and standard to follow is a strength I see in our New Pope. I hope we are all praying for him.

    Oh God, the shepherd and guide of all the faithful, look with favor upon Thy servant Benedict, whom Thou hast been pleased to place as pastor over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, to help by word and example those over whom he rules, so that, together with the flock entrusted to him, he may reach everlasting life. Amen.
    (Roman Missal)

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