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Churches get CZK 10 billion in compensation by end 2017

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Prague, Nov 14 (CTK) – Churches in the Czech Republic will receive the fifth instalment within the 59-billion-crown sum going to them under the restitution law at the end of the year, whereby the total sum they will have received will slightly exceed 10 billion crowns, the Culture Ministry’s data show.

Based on the church restitution law, in force since 2013, the Culture Ministry is in charge of gradually paying the financial compensation, two billion crowns a year, to churches for the property that could not be returned to them.

Andrej Babis, chairman of the election-winning ANO movement and probable new prime minister, is pondering a taxation of the compensation sum and a transfer of the church agenda from the Culture Ministry to the jurisdiction of the Finance Ministry.

Under the restitution law, 16 churches and religious movements should be returned land and real estate worth 75 billion crowns, confiscated from them by the communist regime, and gradually give 59 billion crowns plus inflation in financial compensation for unreturned property by 2030. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.

Most of the churches’ claims for property return have been settled already, and some disputable cases are still subject to court proceedings. In most cases, the courts are to decide on the owner of the property in question.

The largest recipient of money within the financial compensation is the Catholic Church, which lost the vastest property of all churches during the communist regime.

The Catholic Church receives about 1.5 billion crowns out of each annual two-billion-crowns instalment going to the 16 churches that are eligible for restitution.

In total, the Catholics will receive 47.7 billion crowns.

Simultaneously, the state pays subsidies to churches for their operation, and it will continue paying them for another 13 years.

The subsidy, derived from its height in 2001, has been gradually lowered to reach zero in 2030, when the state will stop supporting churches.

The churches therefore use the financial compensation they get as a means to raise their capability of financing their own operation.

Last year, the Catholic Church for the first time released the structure of its financial management in the preceding year.

In 2015, it invested 1.2 billion crowns in projects aimed to generate profit. It invested another billion crowns in schools, healthcare, social services and heritage conservation.

Its investments went to four areas – agriculture and forestry, real estate, financial projects and businesses launched by particular dioceses.

Table: a review of payments churches receive within financial compensation based on restitution law and as state subsidies for churches’ operation (in billions of crowns):

Year Financial compensation – total sum Compensation sum going to Catholic Church State subsidy to churches’ operation Total
2013 1.959 1.573 1.445 3.404
2014 2.023 1.625 1.445 3.468
2015 2.052 1.648 1.444 3.496
2016 2.060 1.654 1.373 3.432
Source: Culture Ministry’s annual reports

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