'Poland cannot solve budget problem by fighting the Church'
PR dla Zagranicy
Poland's leading Roman Catholic priest has said the Church “should not be exploited by those in power,” following government proposals on new ways to fund the priesthood.
Archbishop Kowalczyk: photo - wikicommons
Primate of Poland, Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk has told Polish Radio that “Poland cannot solve budget problems by fighting with the Church.”
On Thursday, Minister of Administration and Digitisation Michal Boni outlined proposed changes to Church funding at a session of the Joint Commission of the Government and the Episcopate.
Among other proposals, Minister Boni put forward the notion that the clergy should pay its health and social security costs, rather than the state.
He also speculated that Polish citizens could be entitled to pay 0.3 percent of their taxes towards the Church, echoing a model that is practised in several European countries.
Currently, the state pays about 89 million zloty per year (21.4 million euro ) into the Church Fund, which was set up by the communist authorities in 1950, as a means of compensating for Church property confiscated after the war.
Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk did not condemn yesterday's proposals outright, noting that it was the government, and not the Church that was late in attempting to develop new legislation regarding the Church Fund.
However, he argued that the fund “should not be abolished, but reshaped.”
The archbishop also expressed anxiety that reforms will lead to religious instruction being removed from schools.
Meanwhile, Professor Zbigniew Mikolejko, head of Religious Studies at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology (a branch of the Polish Academy of Sciences), told Polish Radio that the proposed reforms are “a step in the right direction.”
The professor argued that the proposals “are not a provocation, but a sort of normalisation.”
Minister Boni has asked representatives of the principal religious organisations to submit their opinions on the proposals within the next thirty days. (nh/pg)