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Lay groups back decision of bishop to resist Muslim attempts share use of Cordoba Cathedral

.- Various Catholic lay organizations in Spain have expressed their complete support of the actions of Bishop Juan Jose Asenjo of Cordoba, who is resisting pressure from Muslims seeking to force the Catholic Cathedral to be used as a mosque.

The president of the Muslim Assembly of Spain, Mansur Escudero, has been pressuring authorities to turn the Cathedral of Cordoba into a “multi-religious” center where Muslims can pray towards Mecca.

In response to Bishop Asenjo’s resistance, Escudero held a press conference on January 1 outside the Cathedral during which he publicly prayed that God would “soften the bishops’ heart.”

Victoria Briceño, president of Catholic Action in Cordoba, told the Spanish daily ABC that the organization is in complete agreement with the bishop and that Escudero “should have done the same with the imams who won’t allow the ‘infidels’ (Christians) to enter mosques.”  She chided the Muslim leader for his publicity stunt and said, “It’s not necessary to call journalists in order to pray.”

Juan Jose Primo Jurado, president of the organization Nocturnal Adoration in Spain, told ABC, “The first step towards coexistence is mutual respect.  The freedom and ease with which Muslims can practice their faith in traditionally Christian countries, including Spain, is not extended to Christians in Islamic countries,” he said.

Msgr. Santiago Gomez Sierra, vicar general of the Cordoba diocese, said Escudero’s request was “disproportionate” and reiterated the differences between how Muslims are treated in the West and how Christians are treated in Muslim countries.  He called attempts to pressure the Church “sad…disproportionate and unjust.”

“As part of a minimum of reciprocity, Muslims should also think about how they respect religious freedom where they are the majority,” Msgr. Gomez said.

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