Two days ago Bishop Juan Jose Asenjo of Cordoba, south of Spain,
rejected the request of the city’s Islamic board to allow the Muslim community to worship in a cathedral, which was
once a mosque, along with Catholics, to boost inter-religious dialogue. The bishop argued that the prayers of Muslims
in the cathedral would only lead to confusion. He added that common worship could be affected in many other places,
but not in Cordoba’s cathedral.
Bishop Asenjo explained that Christians in Cordoba want to live in
peace with the followers of other religions, but they did not want to be subjected to pressures that would not
contribute to coexistence and dialogue.
The bishop of Cordoba expressed his support for dialogue with
other religions but "with keeping religious identity."
Spanish press said that the bishop rejected
the Muslim’s plea to share worship in the cathedral because he saw it as "confusion for the faithful." According to al
Pais newspaper, the bishop was keen to refer to the wonderful Islamic architecture of the mosque that was turned into
a cathedral in 1236 in the wake of the fall of Andalusia. "It was built on the ruins of a Visigothic basilica," he was
quoted as saying.
According to the author of the article, the Agence France Press reported that in
response, Mansūr Escudero, secretary-general of Spain’s Islamic Board, performed prayers before the cathedral,
hoping for "the bishop’s heart to soften."
The mosque of Cordoba was built by the Muslims in 786
[170 Hijrī year]. It was one of the most significant mosques in Spain and also played a cultural role for centuries
until the fall of Cordoba in 1236 [633 Hijrī year] when King Ferdinand III ordered Catholic clergy to turn it into a
cathedral. [See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mezquita%2C_C%C3%B3rdoba]