Church collections

German language media translated for TVR's Media Monitor

 As the Austrian government is looking for ways to cut spending, hidden subsidies to the Catholic Church have come under scrutiny. 


How the State Finances the Church, 5 Feb. 

by Saskia Jungnikl

The Catholic Church is exempt from laws governing private foundations and investment funds because property used for religious services is not taxed. Exemptions: €54 million p.a.

Church taxes paid by members of the public and donations to the Church are also tax deductible. Loss of tax revenue: €124 million p.a.

The state pays the salaries of religious education teachers. Churches are entitled to run faith-based private schools – currently some 335 Catholic and 30 Protestant schools – but the costs for maintenance and teachers are borne by the state. The Initiative against Church Privileges (Initiative gegen Kirchenprivelegien) estimates the costs at €912 million…

Dioceses and religious orders own 25,000 hectares [62,000 acres] of land, for which the Church indirectly receives tax money in the form of EU agricultural subsidies: over €4 million according to 2009 figures.

The Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) is legally obliged to air religious programmes. At commercial rates, the Church would have to pay €112 million for the coverage it receives each year…

The Diocese of St. Pölten owns 54% of the Niederösterreichisches Pressehaus, and the Katholische Medienverein controls shares in the Styria Media Group – the publisher of newspapers such as Die Presse, Kleine Zeitung or Wirtschaftsblatt…The Church also owns 85% of Schelhammer & Schattera, a bank, which in turn has a 5% stake in Casinos Austria.

Under the Vermögensvertrag, a 1960 treaty between Austria and the Vatican, the Catholic Church receives €44 million p.a. in compensation for assets seized by the Nazi regime…

“In total, the Church benefits from subsidies and tax privileges to the tune of €2 billion,” explains Niko Alm from the Initiative against Church Privileges, which is currently preparing a petition.


Cutting the deficit via the Church?, 6 Feb.

by Christian Rösner

While Austria is prepared to cut spending on education and social services, it has left the Church’s privileges untouched…

Michael Prüller, the spokesman of the Archdiocese of Vienna, thinks that the debate is far-fetched. “Why should pension payments to teachers be counted as subsidies to the Church?”

Prüller draws a parallel: When the state contracts a private company to build a road, the firm’s investments and outlays for building materials are reimbursed, and the company also makes a profit. “As a service provider in education, the Church is reimbursed neither for its investments, nor for its outlays, nor even for all of its staff costs. And we don’t make a profit. And Church critics construe that as a privilege… If the state were to run the schools itself, its expenses would be much higher.”

Prüller also thinks that the yearly compensation payments of €44 million are justified for the losses the Church suffered. Finally, Prüller does not see why the ORF should not address religious topics. After all, [the programming] is not propaganda.

Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » appearance » Widgets » and move a widget into Advertise Widget Zone