Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Muslims Angle for Ownership of German Catholic Churches

he Catholic Church is planning to close five or six churches in Duisburg, Germany, because of diminishing patronage, and local Muslims wish to buy the churches to use as Islamic worship locations, the German daily Der Westen reported January 1.

Only 19 percent of Duisburg-Marxloh residents are Catholic, and the diocese already closed several churches there five years ago. Pastoral counselor Michael Dörnemann said church officials have explored many options, but see “no way around” this second round of closings. 

Mohammed Al, the association chairman of Duisburg’s Merkez Mosque, doesn’t want the churches to sit empty or be demolished. He is among the Muslims striving to convince Catholic officials to allow Merkez, the largest mosque in Germany, to buy the churches after the Catholics vacate them, to use them for Islamic worship. Al explained the apparent incongruity, saying, “Regardless of whether it’s a church or mosque—it’s about a house of God.” 

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