Bishop hits out at plan to use child immigrant cash to restore church in Spain

Photo of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Credit: Wikipedia By Tasnim News Agency, CC BY 4.0,

A BISHOP says cash offered for a church’s repair from the Government of Ceuta should be refused because he says it has been “stolen from the poor.” 

Santiago Agrelo, archbishop emeritus of Tangier, has taken issue with the decision of the president of Ceuta, Juan Jesús Vivas, of the Partido Popular, to remove aid to unaccompanied immigrant children and use it to restore the church of Carmen, in accordance with extreme right wing party Vox’s demands. 

Agrelo said: “I don’t know who has the responsibility (for the restoration of) the church of Carmen that the Ceuta politicians are trying to restore with the money stolen from the poor. I am sure that, if it is the bishopric of Cadiz and Ceuta, it will not allow a single euro of the money stolen from the poor to put a single brick in that church,” he wrote on his Facebook page. 

Argelo refers to an article published by the Catholic magazine Vida Nueva, under the title “Vox lands in Ceuta for Christmas”, in which it is explained that the draft budget of the city for 2020 includes the demands of Vox, whose local spokesman, Carlos Verdejo, boasts of the “elimination of unnecessary investments” and “the end of the chiringuitos“. 

Among the items that have been eliminated is aid to the Catholic association Cardinj (in homage to the Belgian priest who founded the Young Christian Workers), which, together with the Christian Secretariat for Migration, manages a network that cares for immigrants and the Ceutí centre in San Antonio, where unaccompanied immigrant minors are looked after. 

According to the local spokesman for Vox, the public aid that until now was given to this association and two others (Sick People Without Borders and Progressive Women) will be used, among other things, for the rehabilitation of the church of the Virgin of Carmen. 

Argelo, a 77-year-old Galician Franciscan, has been bishop of Tangiers (Morocco) for 12 years and there, as he himself has acknowledged, he was faced with the drama of immigration. He has proved himself to be very critical of the way in which it has been managed by the Spanish and Moroccan authorities. “It is not the same to read the Gospel in a cathedral as in a patera (migrant boat)”, he said. 


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Dilip Kuner

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