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Czestochowa. They called for non-financing of religion in schools from the city budget. Prosecutor’s Office: the resolution is in accordance with the law

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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. Both institutions decided that the resolution did not violate any provisions.

The District Prosecutor in Częstochowa has completed the analysis of the resolution of Częstochowa councilors regarding the financing of religion in schools. The councilors appealed in the resolution that the local government should not pay the catechists.

– It was found that there are no grounds for the prosecutor’s office to take legal action regarding the resolution in question – says Tomasz Ozimek, spokesman for the Częstochowa prosecutor’s office. He adds: – First of all, this resolution does not contain any legal norms, but is an appeal to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Science to abolish financing of religion lessons from the city budget. It contains arguments that the economic situation of Częstochowa and other cities is difficult, and indicates that the costs of servicing education are rising. Therefore, the councilors asked that religion be funded by the government.

The prosecutor stated that no provisions had been breached, including the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. On the contrary – as Ozimek emphasizes – the tasks of the city council also include the adoption of the budget, and the appeal under analysis is related to this, so the councilors had the right to pass such an act.

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The appeal of the councilors and the reaction of the Catholic Action

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

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.

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

“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 abolition of financing religion lessons from the city budget in connection with the growing, regardless of the city, costs of operating the municipal education system. The resolution is a political appeal that has no legal effect on residents. It also does not aim at stopping their financing from public funds.

The answer was formulated on January 27.


Zbigniew Ziobro ordered the prosecutor’s office to examine the resolution

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 transferred it to our Prosecutor’s Office for us to investigate, said Ozimek.

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

The Częstochowa prosecutor’s office received this task at the end of January. She did not call anyone for questioning. She examined the documents, including the content of the resolution.

Ozimek emphasized that it was not an extraordinary or criminal case, but an administrative proceeding, based on Articles 69 and 70 of the Law on the Prosecutor’s Office.

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 fund 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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