News Protzbau in Limburg: Why every German has funded the bishop
Wednesday, 16.10.13 , written by Juliane Wellisch The waste of money at the bishopric of Limburg has been causing a stir for days. It’s not just Catholics who wonder how their church tax is handled. Even Otto normal citizen addresses the topic. For even those who are not church members, pay through their taxes money to the church. But what does the state and taxpayers pay annually to the two major
In Limburg, church members are unlikely to feel like donations
The episcopal see in Limburg excited since days the minds. Because instead of the originally planned 5.5 million euros, the construction of the bishop’s residence will now cost at least 31 million euros. Other estimates even assume a total cost of more than 40 million euros. The whole is financed by the church tax of the diocese and the means of the Episcopal See. Many Catholics, but also members of other churches and non-denominational respond angrily to the waste of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst. Many citizens are well aware that the churches also receive funding from the state – regardless of the church tax. Every citizen pays indirectly for lavish projects like the one in Limburg. But what do the churches receive funding for and what is the size of the state payments?
State grants for schools, nursing homes and hospitals
The churches run numerous social institutions. These include kindergartens, schools, nursing homes and hospitals. In many areas of Germany, the social infrastructure and health care of the population without these facilities would be inconceivable. However, many people assume that church-sponsored hospitals, for example, are financed by church tax. In fact, however, hospitals, as well as non-denominational institutions, receive public funding to finance buildings, facilities, technology, etc.
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State subsidies more than twice as high as income from church tax
How much money the churches receive for kindergartens, schools, nursing homes and Co. from the state is difficult to quantify. According to the violet book church finances in 2009 alone 3.915 billion euros were paid by the state for church daycare facilities. The Catholic and Protestant religious education cost the taxpayer 1.7 billion euros. By comparison, in 2009, the Catholic and Protestant churches received 4.9 billion or 4.4 billion euros through church tax. The state subsidies amounted to approximately 19.29 billion euros . The expenses of the municipalities, for example, for hospitals are not included.
State benefits of the countries bring the churches hundreds of millions
In addition to the tax money and subsidies, the churches receive the so-called endowments or state benefits. These are compensation payments by the Länder (except Hamburg and Bremen) to the churches for past expropriations. For example, the Protestant churches were affected by expropriations until the end of the 18th century. In various state church treaties, agreements were therefore reached on compensation between the countries and the various churches.
State finances 475 million euros for staff costs
These contracts often still exist today. In 2012 alone, around 475 million euros were paid nationwide to Catholic dioceses and the Protestant churches. Baden-Württemberg had the highest expenditure of around 106 million euros. Also in the new federal states since the beginning of the 1990er years donations are made to the churches again. The level of benefits is based on civil servants’ salaries – falling membership numbers thus have no influence on state benefits. The money is used for the personnel costs of the churches. Thus bishops continue to receive high salaries, even as the number of churchgoers decreases.
Welfare associations are predominantly financed by the state
But even then, the state donations to the churches have no end. For example, charities such as Caritas and Diakonie receive a large part of their financial resources from the state. Approximately 50 billion euros flow annually to the associations. And even church tax eventually costs those taxpayers money that is not a member of a church. Because the churches save about 1.8 billion euros per year in administrative costs, that the state collects the tax.
Critics want better handling of church finances
All in all, the excitement around Limburg so well understood. Although the waste of money at the bishopric has no direct financial impact on churchgoers and taxpayers. However, with so much government support to the churches, many are seeking a more responsible use of church tax and government grants.
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