“If there are no Christians, the churches become museums.” The general secretary of the Episcopal Conference, César García Magán, reflected in this way when analyzing the data from the Justifying Report of Activities of the Spanish Church which was presented today in Madrid and which shows how the Spanish bishops manage a global budget of 1,142 million euros, an amount that is equal to that of the large companies in our country, with 64,925 direct employees and hundreds of thousands if the activity is added cultural or tourist
The abuse scandals do not make a dent in the Church, which breaks a historical record in Income: 25 million euros more
And that only the budgets of the 70 Spanish dioceses are taken into account, and not the huge business network behind congregations, schools and institutions that work on behalf of the Church in our country, and that benefit from the tax regime blessed by the Church-State Agreements. Aid that secular groups say exceeds 11,000 million euros.
The data, which corresponds to the year 2021, the last one closed with the Treasury, shows how income comes, fundamentally, from four ways: voluntary contributions from the faithful (donations, etc…), which account for 30% of them, with 343 million euros; the controversial box of the ‘X’ in the Income Statement, which with 256 million delivered on account (although the collection was 321 million) contributes 22% of the total budget; income from patrimony and other activities, which includes “those income that come directly or indirectly from the patrimony of the diocesan institution” (property rental, financial income and economic activities, such as publishing houses, bookstores, museums, etc.) they take 10% of the total, with 109.2 million euros. Finally, the “Other current income” section accounts for 383.4 million euros, the largest amount, 34%.
And what is that? According to the annex to the report, it is “other income received in the dioceses, which due to its type cannot be classified in those detailed above: such as income from services, current public subsidies (received institutionally, intended to finance actions and events ), and income from diocesan institutions (income received from the diocese).” And that, of course, are exempt from any taxation. Finally, 50.9 million (4% of the total), included in “Extraordinary income”, which refers to “those income that are not related to the activity of the Church: capital grants, disposals of assets or other income extraordinary (for example, inheritances)”.
And what does the Church spend its money on? Fundamentally, in the salary of priests -204,638,999 euros- and workers -233,667,829 euros-, 18 and 19% of the total respectively. On the other hand, the conservation of buildings and operating expenses take 309.8 million euros (27% of the total), for another 70.7 of extraordinary expenses, or used in the construction of new temples, rehabilitation programs and “other expenses of an extraordinary nature”, which account for 9%. Contributions to training centers, with 21 million, represent barely 2%.
Where does the money from the X of the Rent go?
A very different question is that of the destination of the Tax Assignment, which in the last year reached an absolute record: 321 million euros. Fundamentally, to pay the salary of the priests (under the concept “Send to the dioceses for their Sustainability”, which takes 229,040,241 euros) and the Social Security of the Clergy, with 23.6 million. It stands out how, unlike last year, the bishops once again endowed TRECE TV with six million from the income (today Ábside Media, they explained, so there will no longer be any more injections into the episcopal chain), and that there are 32, 8 million that have gone to the “Increase in the available reserve fund”, the total amount of which was not disclosed by the bishops.
“For each direct employee of the Spanish Church, 0.27 additional jobs are generated in the Spanish economy,” assumes the Report. Episcopal sources point out that many of the workers perform functions of an almost voluntary nature, although there is some type of contractual relationship. In some cases, the salary barely reaches 400 or 450 euros per month, while “professional salaries” are almost “at market price”.
Beyond the dioceses, the memory of the Episcopal Conference ‘brings out’ its educational and cultural work, ensuring that it saves the State “several billions of euros”. Specifically, it is argued that the Catholic concert “represents a saving for the State that amounts to 4,356 million euros per year in 2021”, 461 more than the previous year.
As for cultural, tangible and intangible heritage, the report stresses that it contributes 3% to the Gross Domestic Product, with an economic impact of 22,620 million euros, in addition to 225,000 direct and indirect jobs.
More churches than priests
The accounts show the good health of the Church’s money. But they show how the vocational and sacramental crisis has not peaked in a country that is less and less Catholic. At least formally.
And it is that in Spain there are 22,947 parishes (half located in rural Spain), to which must be added 87 cathedrals or 639 sanctuaries. However, with data from 2021, the number of priests barely adds up to 16,126, in addition to 116 bishops and 539 permanent deacons. This is: there are at least 7,000 temples without a pastor, although there are actually many more, because many parishes, especially urban ones, have several clergy in charge.
“There is a general crisis of disengagement,” said the EEC spokesman, who asked to frame the data in the general situation in society, especially in the West. However, the data shows the reality of a profound de-Christianization, which has been permeating our country for decades and has been a constant for years, a separate pandemic.
And not only because of the number of priests or religious. In Spain, with data from 2021, there are 1,028 seminarians –although we already know that they have dropped from a thousand in 2022– for 27,006 religious men and 8,501 religious, in addition to the 8,326 cloistered monks and nuns.
Added to them are 87,923 catechists, 36,911 religion teachers, 10,382 missionaries (in a very clear decline in recent years, although there are 542 families on mission) and “millions of lay people” who cannot be detailed, although memory does point to more than 9.5 Eucharist per year for 8.2 million faithful who attend Mass regularly. In Spain there are 408,000 lay associates, and more than a million members of Brotherhoods and Brotherhoods.
In 2021, the year in which we began to recover from the pandemic, there were 149,711 baptisms in Spain, 182,760 first (and in many cases, last) communions, 103,584 confirmations, 25,762 marriages (only one in ten couples are married by the Church in Spain) or 27,045 anointing of the sick, the only one that suffers compared to 2020. “If there are no Christians, the churches become museums” Magán repeated again.
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