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Czestochowa. Councilors appealed to the city not to pay for religion in schools. The prosecutor’s office checks the resolution

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The Catholic Action of the Archdiocese of Częstochowa asked the Ombudsman and the Minister of Justice to examine the resolution of the Częstochowa councilors regarding the co-financing of religion lessons by local governments. Councilors called for the costs to be transferred entirely to the state. The Ombudsman has already replied. Now the prosecutor’s office is looking into the case.

In mid-December last year, the city council in Częstochowa passed a resolution on the co-financing of religion lessons in schools by local governments.

“Due to the growing, regardless of the city, costs of servicing the education system, the Częstochowa City Council appeals to the Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki and the Minister of Education and Science, Przemysław Czarnek, for the liquidation of financing religion lessons from the budget of the city of Częstochowa, reads the resolution.

Read in Konkret24: “Częstochowa withdrew from financing religion in schools”? It was not approved by the councillors

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Ombudsman: the resolution is a political appeal and has no legal effects

The president of the Catholic Action of the Archdiocese of Częstochowa, Artur Dąbrowski, reacted to the resolution at the end of December. He sent inquiries about the compliance of the resolution with the law to the Ombudsman.

“After analyzing the case, the Ombudsman found no grounds to take action within his competences,” we read on the Ombudsman’s website. And further: “The resolution contained an appeal for the liquidation of financing religion lessons from the city budget in connection with the growing, independent of the city, costs of operating the municipal education system. The resolution is a political appeal that has no legal effect on residents. It does not mean a decision to stop It also does not aim at stopping their financing from public funds.

The answer was formulated on January 27.

Commissioner for Catholic Action on the resolution on financing religion in schools

Prosecutor’s office: this is not an extraordinary or criminal case

The president of the Catholic Action also asked the Minister of Justice to investigate the case Zbigniew Ziobro. – He appealed to the Minister of Justice to investigate whether the resolution of the city council in Częstochowa is lawful. He cited a number of provisions that the resolution may violate, articles of the constitution, concordat, and education law. The minister referred the case to the National Prosecutor’s Office, which in turn to our Prosecutor’s Office, so that we could investigate it – says Tomasz Ozimek, spokesman for the District Prosecutor’s Office in Częstochowa.

Dąbrowski referred, inter alia, to the Constitution of the Republic of Poland.

The religion of a church or other religious association with a regulated legal situation may be taught at school, but the freedom of conscience and religion of other people may not be violated.

and a concordat between the Holy See and the Republic of Poland.

Recognizing the right of parents to religious upbringing of children and the principle of tolerance, the State guarantees that public primary and secondary schools and kindergartens, run by state and local government administration bodies, organize religious instruction as part of the school and pre-school curriculum, in accordance with the will of those interested.

The Częstochowa prosecutor’s office received this task at the end of January. She applied for the content of the resolution and other documents to the city council, she is still waiting for it.

Ozimek emphasizes that this is not an extraordinary or criminal case. This is an administrative procedure based on Articles 69 and 70 of the Public Prosecution Act. – We conducted similar proceedings, also in response to media reports, for example, in cases of collecting fees for municipal or market waste by the local government – explains Ozimek.

Initiators of the resolution: let the government itself finance religions of all denominations

The initiators of the resolution argued that every year more and more students resign from participating in religion classes, despite this, the costs of organizing classes do not decrease. According to the information they obtained from the Ministry of Education and Science, in 2019 religion cost the Polish state about PLN 1.5 billion a year. The local government covers 30 percent of the costs, the rest comes from the education subsidy. The salaries of 130 catechists in Częstochowa schools consume PLN 9.5 million annually. Częstochowa contributes PLN 2.8 million to this amount.

Read also: Less and less students go to religion classes, but expenses for catechists are increasing

Councilors pointed out that local governments throughout Poland are in a difficult financial situation and are looking for savings. They referred to the requests of students’ parents, who “often ask us councilors for the return of religion to the catechetical rooms.”

“If the government wants to finance religious education, let it do it itself,” they suggested. A compromise solution for them is to increase the subsidy so that it covers 100% of the organization of religion lessons.

“Stop financing religion lessons from the city budget is not a project aimed against any religion or against any Church. Our appeal concerns the liquidation of financing classes of all denominations” – emphasized the initiators of the resolution.

Main photo source: TVN24

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