SPAIN CUTS FUNDING FOR CATHOLIC CHURCH (Abridged)
In a move that took many by surprise, the Spanish government has announced that it will cease
paying a subsidy to the Catholic Church, which last year totalled about 30 million euros. In addition, the church will lose its exemption from value-added tax (VAT) on purchases of goods and property, as required by the European Union, and will have to supply the government with an annual report to justify the spending of monies granted to them through the voluntary income tax levy.
The new measures will not affect the hundreds of millions of euros in payment to religious school teachers and in subsidies paid to maintain Spanish cathedrals.
Since taking power in April 2004, the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has had a stormy relationship with the Catholic Church, introducing legislation making divorce much easier, legalising gay marriage and eliminating the requirement that religion be an obligatory subject in schools.
The pope attempted to chastise Zapatero during a recent papal visit to Spain, but the Prime
Minister shrugged off the criticism and then compounded the “insult” by not attending the Pope’s mass.