The priests who provide their services in Galician hospitals are going to charge 4% more in 2023. The budget project of the Xunta that Parliament is processing includes items that add up to 768,129.93 euros to pay with public funds the salaries of fifty of religious. They are almost 30,000 euros more than in the year that is now ending.
Galician health will spend 700,000 euros on priests’ salaries during 2021
The figure includes the amounts that correspond to the 42 priests who work full-time identified as religious personnel and another 11 who work part-time, as well as a chaplain from the Ourense health area who is considered a workforce. In total, the Galician public health pays 53 priests, who carry out their work by taking turns in hospital centers. Those who are full-time will earn 16,070.96 euros each in 2023. Those who work half the hours are paid, consequently, 50%: 8,035.8 euros. These tasks are compatible with the care of their parishes.
The presence in public hospitals of religious paid by the Galician Government derives from an agreement signed by the Xunta in the 90s, when Manuel Fraga was in charge. Since then, this policy has remained stable, both with the PP governments and with the bipartisan PSdeG and BNG, and the more than fifty priests chosen for these tasks.
The health areas with the largest number of chaplains continue to be Vigo, where there are seven full-time and two part-time. In Santiago and Ourense there are also seven full-time priests. In the case of the Galician capital, another two are added part-time and in the city of Ourense there is one part-time and another, the one that appears as labor personnel, with a remuneration of just over 18,000 euros.
In Lugo, Pontevedra and A Coruña, there are six full-time religious in each. Two half-days are added in Pontevedra and one more in both Lugo and A Coruña. In Ferrol there are two in each modality.
The debate on the relevance of assuming the salaries of these priests with public funds was revived a few years ago. In 2017 the PSOE demanded in the Galician Parliament that this item be withdrawn, to which the Xunta refused with the argument that “citizens do not mind”. The Socialists have raised the issue on other occasions, but the Galician Government alleges that there are no irregularities in this system, which derives from a framework agreement between the Spanish State and the Vatican formalized in the 1980s, and continues to include budget after budget -increasing in recent years- for wages.