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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Church Fund for reform. Agnieszka Buczyńska, Minister for Civil Society, recalled two possible solutions and recalled the Poland 2050 proposals

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The Church Fund is a relic of old times and requires reform, said Minister for Civil Society Agnieszka Buczyńska. As she pointed out, “we have two possible solutions to reforming the Church Fund.” She recalled that Poland 2050 proposes replacing it with a tax deduction or a donation to a selected religious association. At the same time, Buczyńska assured that solutions will be developed in consultation with representatives of all interested religious associations.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced on December 27, 2023, that the government had established an inter-ministerial team to change the financing system of the Church Fund, including the rules for financing retirement and pension benefits for clergy. Agnieszka Buczyńska is to represent Poland 2050 in this team.

– It must be said that the Church Fund – for those who do not know – is something that was supposed to be a form of settlement for goods that were taken over by the state. However, this property has been settled a long time ago – said Buczyńska in a Monday conversation with the Poland 2050 Facebook page. The minister added that the largest beneficiary of the Church Fund is the Catholic Church. – He received the most funds – she noted.

In Agnieszka Buczyńska’s opinion, “the Church Fund today is a relic of old times and it requires reform.” – When it comes to the Church Fund, today we have two possible reform solutions – she said.

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The Minister reminded that in its program Poland 2050 proposes replacing the Church Fund with a voluntary donation to a selected religious association, which will be tax deductible or a tax deduction for a selected religious association, similar to a deduction for a selected public benefit organization.

Buczyńska assured that solutions will be developed in consultation with representatives of all interested religious associations. – I think that this team will have its first joint meeting in the near future – said the Minister for Civil Society.

About the Church Fund

The Church Fund was established under the Act of March 20, 1950 on the state’s takeover of the property of a dead hand, guaranteeing parish priests the ownership of agricultural farms and establishing the Church Fund.

According to the original assumptions, it was to be a form of compensation for churches and other religious associations for land properties taken over from them by the state. An estate was to be created from the confiscated properties, the income from which was to be divided among the churches in proportion to the size of the confiscated properties.

Fr. prof. Dariusz Walencik from the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Opole told the Polish Press Agency that this assumption was never implemented. – The number of seized goods, their value and the income they brought were never estimated. In fact, from the very beginning, the Church Fund was simply a subsidy entered into the Budget Act every year, he explained.

He added that currently the Church Fund is used by all religious associations operating legally in Poland, including those that did not operate in Poland in 1950 and did not lose any properties then. There are currently 185 such religious associations.

Since 1990, the main source of financing for the Fund has been the state budget. In the initial period of its operation, the Fund transferred funds for purposes such as: reconstruction and maintenance of religious buildings, material assistance for clergy and subsidies for personal and administrative-material expenses. Currently, most of the money from the Church Fund is used to cover social and health insurance contributions for clergy.

In the draft of next year’s state budget, the Church Fund is expected to amount to PLN 257 million.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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