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Nearly half a billion euros of subsidies go to debt |  the interior

Nearly half a billion euros of subsidies go to debt | the interior

PolicyIn times of gradually empty churches, a lot of money still goes to the recognized religions of this country. In Flanders alone, this relates to 468 million euros in 2021, calculates the Flemish MP Maurits Vande Reddy (Open Vld).

The five different religious denominations are all supported by the local, regional and federal government to some extent. In total, government support increased from €417 million (2015) to €468 million (2021): this growth roughly follows an increase in age.

For example, local authorities are obliged to pay for the renovation of old church buildings. This amount will increase from €69.9 million (2015) to approximately €80 million (2021). Won’t the churches disappear then? The nuances of the diocese: “Many church buildings have not disappeared from the heritage.” Concerned Minister Bart Summers (Open Vld) also answers: “We are currently working on introducing a mandatory multi-year plan for local church factories, which will allow them to control their costs and expenditures more in the long run.”

The federal government pays the salaries and pensions of priests, imams, etc. The amount of this has remained constant over the past five years and fluctuates around 60 million euros. “The number of priests is declining, but more church employees are also becoming paid employees,” explains Gert de Kerpel, a spokesman for the diocese.

Finally, Flanders pays teachers who teach religious subjects in Community Education (GO!) – which is organized and funded directly by the government. In total, 295 million euros were paid in teacher salaries in 2021 to various recognized religions, of which 180 million were for lessons of Catholic faith and 36 million for lessons of Islamic faith.

There is no general idea of ​​the financial resources available for recognized religions, especially the Catholic Church, according to the diocese. Vande Ride concludes that “the fact that no one can say exactly how much money goes to the Catholic Church is no longer justified”.