The path opened by the Government to claim ownership of the 178 property registered by the Church in the province between 1998 and 2015 has barely aroused interest in Alicante city councils. Some rule out making any kind of claim; others show their ignorance on the subject and a few go to study the public ownership of the assets.
From the municipal government of Alicante, led by the bipartisan PP-Cs, they assure that it does not enter their agenda to “do anything” about the unregistered properties of the Church. In the Alicante capital, during that period, three buildings were registered: the San Nicolás Cathedral, the San José Parish Church and the San Antonio de Padua Hermitage. “We do not contemplate opening any way to claim the real estate”, referring to the properties that, thanks to a reform of the Mortgage Law carried out during the Government of Aznar, allowed the ecclesiastical institution to register for the first time in the Property Registry real estate with an ecclesiastical certificate as proof of ownership. In Elche, the mayor, Carlos González, recalls that the Santa María Basilica and two lots were registered, of which the local executive has no further information. The first mayor asks for common sense and points out that what is «duly registered by the Church is part of its property, and of its patrimony there is no need to object, and whatever is questionable, I am sure that the Government will make more convenient decisions for the general interest”. However, from Compromís, as a partner of the PSOE government, it is pointed out that “if there is the possibility of claiming any of these properties in Elche, the City Council has to do it.” In Elda, Patrimonio has been asked to investigate whether there is any property that is municipally owned. “We believe not, but if so, the matter will be put in the hands of the City Council’s legal services,” says Mayor Rubén Alfaro. The same will do Novelda according to the socialist spokesman Iván Ñíguez.
In Orihuela the City Council rules out claiming. In the municipality there are unregistered churches and hermitages, but not lands, plots or farms that could be of interest to the City Council. “We are not interested, nor do we have to do it,” said Rafael Almagro, the mayor of Heritage. In Orihuela, a city where there are a large number of temples and the bishopric, the Salvador Cathedral, the Episcopal Palace, the Church of San Agustín, the Church of Monserrate, Santo Domingo and several hermitages appear on the list. The mayor of La Torre de les Maçanes, the popular Cristóbal Sala, is unaware of the existence of a plot in the name of the Church or that there is any type of dispute with the City Council. In Monforte, the mayor María Dolores Berenguer, of IU, does not know if there are unregistered assets and in Petrer, the mayor Fernando Portillo, rules out the existence of properties that may be the subject of a claim.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.