Monday, May 30, 2005

Madrid may cut state payments to the Church

Spain's Socialist government may trim public financing of the Catholic Church when it renegotiates a current deal with the Vatican. Spanish justice minister Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, in an interview published by the Spanish daily La Vanguardia: "The government won't be seeking friction with the Church." But he explained it would be rational to renegotiate the deal that was signed in 1979 because it runs out next year. That deal not only assures public finance of the Catholic Church, but also of private Catholic education. Spanish tax payers can sign a covenant whereby some of their contributions to the state are redirected to church coffers. But since 1989 this has covered only 70 percent of its needs, estimated at EUR 110 million euros. Despite Spain's 80 percent Catholic population and being home to the influential Vatican group Opus Dei, its socialist government of prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is frequently challenging Vatican doctrine.


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