|Spanish Bishops With Pope Francis|
(Madrid) The attacks against the Catholic Church have recently increased in intensity in Spain. In the parliamentary elections in December 2015, the progressive Partido Popular (People's Party) lost its majority. However, the left-wing parties were unable to form a government within what is the stipulated by the Constitution. This coming June 26, therefore, new elections are to be held. Another shift to the left is not excluded.
The attacks against the Archbishop of Valencia, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, by representatives of the Left parties, may be significant as a new sign of the escalation against the Church. The former curial Cardinal was defending the natural family and criticized the gender ideology. Cañizares turned especially against "false" laws which are contrary to human nature and therefore run counter to the government's mandate to provide for the general welfare.
It's a position of the left-wing parties (PSOE, Podemos, IU), which is barely tolerated any more. They want to muzzle the Church, and prefer to bring it into silence. The recent campaign in itself, which is being carried out initially by clerical employees who are active in left-wing political parties, who have publicly insulted high church officials, shows that freedom of expression is in serious danger. It's a phenomenon that is not only to be observed in Spain.
The context of these recent events involve the efforts of the Spanish Church, to become independent of state funding. The proportion of state financing accounts for between 10 and 50 percent, at present, of the annual budget of Spanish dioceses.
The state contribution to the financing of the Church is governed by a democratic transition agreement in 1979 signed between the State and the Church. The Left has agitated against the financing of the Church by the state since the 80s. In 2007, the left-wing Zapatero government put into effect a supplement that abolished the direct subsidy to the Church by the state. Instead, it was determined that the state would withhold 0.7 percent of personal income tax (IRPF) for the Church from those taxpayers who so wished it. The scheme is modeled on similar provisions which have been laid down in the 1984 Concordat between the Catholic Church and Italy.
Since the revision of 2007, the Catholic Church no longer receives subsidies from the tax budget. It will only be paid the money that Catholics want their pay voluntarily by an explicit statement on the tax return. In contrast, to the Church-tax in Germany, the tax is voluntary. Only the rate is fixed.
The Archdiocese of Madrid is financed up to 18 percent from the IRPF tax. In Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Barcelona, the figure is 34.1 percent, in the diocese of Cordoba it is at 14.5 percent.
Overall, the indirect subsidies from the government (transitory items IRPF tax) amounted to around 250 million euros annually. It's a modest sum compared to the more than five billion which sustains Germany's church through the church tax. Accordingly modest are also the salaries of Spanish priests which stand between 700-1000 euros.
Nevertheless, there are discussions within the Spanish Bishops' Conference of renewed efforts to seek independence from the indirect funding by the state and switch the budget of the dioceses entirely to self-financing. Financial dependence, be it only indirect, could restrict the freedom of maneuver and independence, and freedom of expression, as things are in Spain. The money supply has ever been a popular form of pressure for currently ruling authorities at any time.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Trans: Tancred email@example.com