A Madrid city council of the PP approves a religious ‘macroproject’ of the Heralds of the Gospel association in a protected area

A few days before the municipal elections of May 26, 2019, the mayor of the Madrid town of Seville the New (9,000 inhabitants), Asensio Martínez, from the PP, welcomed the bishop of Getafe, Ginés Ramón García Beltrán, to the ‘Los Alcores’ farm, in the ‘Los Cortijos’ urbanization of the municipality; a beautiful place, of 198,000 square meters, surrounded by vegetation, such as the blue cedar, and where the last nests of imperial eagles nest in the Community of Madrid. That is why this area is qualified as a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA).

But the mayor and the bishop were not there, that May 18, 2019, to contemplate nature, but to celebrate the future construction of the Heralds of the Gospel macroproject, a private association of faithful of pontifical right, recognized by the Vatican in 2001 and dotted with various controversies, such as an investigation in Brazil into complaints of mental and physical mistreatment of the faithful. Three years ago the Pope ordered his interventionbefore complaints about exorcist practices and parental alienation, but the Heralds of the Gospel are reluctant to recognize the authority of a pontifical commissioner.

The Bishop of Getafe blessed the laying of the first stone of the macrocomplex after a parade of men and women from the association dressed in unique habits, similar to those of the Templars. The mayor and other members of the City Council present had to keep to themselves what had happened there because the people did not find out anything until September 30, 2021when a plenary session was held and the mayor announced the project, which was approved with the absolute majority of the PP.

According to the Detailed Study, to which he has been able to access Publicthe macrocomplex consists of a church of 1,800 square meters, with two towers 70 meters high; a monastery of 5,000 square meters; a school of 1,500 square meters; a inn of 1,600 square meters; in addition to a swimming pool, changing rooms and 488 parking spaces.

As this is a special protection area for birds, constructions cannot exceed 7 meters in height, according to the municipal ordinance regulating the Environment of the City Council of Sevilla la Nueva. Therefore, the projected towers of 70 meters in height have a difficult urban fit.

This is what the neighbors believe, who are organizing to present allegations and be able to stop “this environmental aberration”. They have also organized a campaign to collect signatures on the Change.org platform, where they have already accumulated around 900.

Members of the Heralds of the Gospel association show the Bishop of Getafe, Ginés García Beltrán, a cake with a model of the church they plan to build in their religious ‘macro-project’ in the Madrid town of Sevilla la Nueva.

Ramón lives very close to the future complex of the Heralds of the Gospel. It will be one of the most affected in the urbanization, which has a hundred chalets. The farm of the religious is precisely in the center of the urbanization, flanked by the private plots of the neighbors. “We do not understand how it is possible to approve the construction of a macro complex with these characteristics here, when the neighbors are not allowed to build an attic more than seven meters high or they let us install a workshop on their plots because of the environmental noise and now they are going to build 488 parking spaces,” says Ramón.

The farm was bought by the Cultural Association Save Me Queen of Fatima, registered in the National Registry of Associations in 1999, one of the denominations of the Heralds of the Gospel. They bought it at the end of 2018 from the heirs of the politician and businessman Michael Boyer, as this newspaper has learned. Religious today have a mortgage of 1.9 million euros.

The conditions of the Heralds

The origin of this acquisition is also marked by controversy. In September 2018, the City Council of Sevilla la Nueva received a curious petition signed by an architect from Jaén. In it he explained that the Heralds of the Gospel had the intention of acquiring a plot in order to carry out the construction of a complex that would consist of several buildings, but they needed a commitment from the mayor.

“Specifying prior to the formalization of the purchase-sale, for the sake of security, of an urban planning certificate for said plot, this request is made to your Excellency City Council for the issuance of a report on the viability of the intervention proposal what arises, understanding that such report would be binding for the Municipal Administration in the corresponding processing of urban license in accordance with the applicable regulations and as long as the conditions of the technical project that was provided for it at the time are not modified”, appears in said communication, to which he has had access Public, where the project was already described.

On October 3, 2018, the municipal architect reported favorably, although he specified that some details had to be corrected, and the religious association bought the land. For its part, the council has issued a press release in which underlines the legality of the urban development operation. He emphasizes that the project was presented by the religious association on August 18, 2021, but it goes without saying that it was already known to the City Council years before.

They cannot live with children

In 2020 the Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life ordered the closure of the schools of the association of the Heralds of the Gospel, demanding that the minors be returned to their families. “The school they are planning has no reason to be,” says Carmen Flores, councilor of the PSOE of Seville the New–. We already have three schools in the town.”

The decision to close the community colleges was made after an investigation carried out between 2017 and 2019, and the appointment of Cardinal Damasceno as pontifical commissioner of the Heralds of the Gospel. The Pope made the decision in view of the complaints of parents of children and young people who resided in association centers without sufficient contact with their families. The pontifical decree warned of the excessively rigid discipline that was followed there. The Heralds deny any practice of abuse and power.

That same year the Holy See prevented monks from the Heralds from settling in the Mula Convent (Murcia), due to his investigations into “alleged deficiencies in the style of government, the life of its members, the pastoral care of vocations, formation, administration, the management of works and the collection of resources,” according to what was reported by The opinion of Murcia.

Carmen Flores, councilor of the Socialist Municipal Group in Sevilla la Nueva, explains to this newspaper that in the plenary vote on September 30, 2021, the members of the corporation learned about the macroproject. “We hadn’t heard of the Heralds of the Gospel before,” he says. He considers that the project does not comply with the urban parameters that govern the municipality. “For the approval of such a project it had to have been done through a partial plan, but the mayor has opted for another very questionable plan. He knows perfectly well that the Subsidiary Norms prohibit the erection of these 70-meter towers,” says Carmen Flores.

The Heralds of the Gospel have other properties in Spain, such as a residence in El Viso, in Madrid, and a house-castle in Toledo. The one in Sevilla la Nueva will be one of the most impressive of all those they have and the famous towers of its basilica in Sevilla la Nueva will be seen for miles. To give an example, the Almudena Cathedral, in Madrid, measures 73 meters, only three meters above the future Basilica of Our Lady of the Resurrection of the Heralds.

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