Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Churches may receive CZK 79-96bn in compensation

4 October 2011

Prague, Oct 3 (CTK) - The cost of the property settlement between the Czech state and churches may reach 78.9 billion to 96.24 billion crowns if inflation is to be taken into account, the Culture Ministry says in its bill published at the government web page yesterday.

In late September, the Czech government approved the outlines of a property settlement with churches within which the state is to pay 59 billion crowns over 30 years and to return 56 percent of the property the Communist regime confiscated from to churches.

The process of property separation of churches from the state is to take 17 years during which the state is to be gradually lowering its contributions to the salaries of the clergy and church administration.

The 59 billion crowns, gradually raised by inflation, will be divided among 17 churches and religious entities.

Most of the sum will go to the Roman Catholic Church (some 47 billion crowns), followed by two Protestant churches - the Czechoslovak Hussite Church (some three billion) and the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (over two billion).

The lowest sum of about 36 million will be allocated to the Religious Society of Czech Unitarians, the proposal says.

If the presumed inflation rate is included, the churches would be receiving 2.63-3.21 billion crowns annually, the report said.

The plan proposes in detail the separation of churches from the state. The transitional period is to start in 2013 and to last 17 years. During it, the state is to pay the total of 16.997 billion crowns to the churches.

During the first three years of the 17-year transitional period, the state will fully cover the clerics' salaries, with 1.445 billion crowns annually from its budget.

Starting the fourth year, the sum will be lowered by 5 percent every year.

The communist regime (1948-1989) confiscated a total of 181,000 hectares of forests and 72,000 hectares of farmland from churches.

The proposed separation is to reprieve the Communist seizure of church property.

The hotly debated issue dragged out for many years after the 1989 fall of the Communist regime. Although a number of proposals were tabled, the government and churches never arrived at an agreement.

The church restitution is rejected by the opposition Social Democrats and Communists. Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka has said the budget cannot afford the transfer of the property and the financial compensation.

($1 = 18.331 crowns)

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