“Vincent Jordy, recently named archbishop of Tours in the center of France, has been forced to publish a statement after declarations by a local Muslim leader revealed that the Catholic diocese has given funds for the construction of a large mosque, and that these funds can be said to have been financed by the ‘denier du culte’: parish contributions given by Catholics in the diocese for its upkeep and operating costs.
The story broke ten days ago when a local newspaper, la Nouvelle République, published a story for the beginning of Ramadan on April 13, with comments by the president of the Muslim community of the department of Indre-et-Loire in the Loire valley explaining that the new Grand Mosque of Menneton was not yet ready to receive the Muslim faithful, in particular in its areas destined for public worship.
Salah Merabti, talking about COVID restrictions that will prevent the faithful from ‘breaking the fast’ in communal dinners at their present mosque, said he hoped that next year, works will have been completed in the new building, for which €4 million euro (nearly $5 million) have already been spent. 2 million euro worth of funds are lacking at present to pay for the roof, the dome, and sealing work. The construction project is already several weeks or months late because of COVID-19, and now the price of building materials has risen steeply, compromising the Muslim community’s ability to finance future contracts.
It was at this point that Merabti spoke about those who had helped or are still helping with the funding of the project: ‘In Paris, I met the boss of Coca-Cola Algeria who gave us the sum of €150,000 for the roof. This is exceptional. We also received gifts from elected officials of the [Tours] metropolis, from the Jewish community of Tours, and from the diocese, for the worshiping area of the mosque. This is a great comfort.’
The story was picked up by the independent Catholic website ‘Riposte-Catholique,’ which asked: ‘Are we to understand that parish funding of the church has been diverted for the needs of the Muslim community? This is a question that should be put to the accounting office of the diocese.’…
Bishop Vincent Jordy published a statement on April 15, only two days after the news of diocesan funding for a mosque in Tours broke:
In 1996, during the visit to Tours of Pope Saint John Paul II, as subsidies were almost non-existent, the diocese had launched an appeal for donations to ensure the funding of this reception. On this occasion, the Muslim community of Tours wished to make a symbolic donation. In return, the diocese of Tours wished to make a similar and symbolic donation on the occasion of the launching of the Tours mosque project more than 15 years ago.
He added (in a largely incomprehensible phrase that appears to put Christian and Muslim celebrations on a par): ‘As Christian communities live in the light of the Easter celebrations and Muslim communities have entered the period of Ramadan, this reminder allows us to measure up to our lives as believers.'”
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