The sum has created discontent among MPs.
A group of MPs headed by Green Party Lower Chamber member Remus Cernea, known for his stance against the Church, is preparing a draft law that would replace the form of financing religious denominations from the state budget with the German model.
Cernea wants to replace the current form of financing with a percentage of the income tax that citizens could freely earmark for religious denominations just like they do for NGOs. “We plan, because I’ve talked with several MPs from various parties and there is a current of opinion on this issue, to have a system of financing religious denominations based on this model. This would relieve the state budget of a lot of funds earmarked for denominations and would help a lot the churches to have predictable and stable revenues. I am sure such an initiative would enjoy wide support because it is for the interest of the Church, who would be primarily interested,” Remus Cernea . Moreover, stressing the need for this proposal to enter the public debate, the Green Party MP stated that he will do everything possible for his initiative to be approved. “I will do everything in my power for this system to be implemented,” he added. Nevertheless, Remus Cernea refused to disclose who the MPs that support him are. On the other hand, as expected, the Romanian Patriarchy’s position is entirely different. Such an initiative should be analyzed very well and, at the same time, should be correlated with the issue of restoring the Church’s properties, Father Constantin Stoica, the Patriarchy’s spokesperson, stated. “This financing from the budget has been responsibly assumed by the state ever since the 1863 secularization. We consider that this initiative should be launched for public debate, should be very well analyzed and correlated with an initiative concerning the restitution of Church properties confiscated by the state in 1863. This financial support was also respected by the communist regime. The financing is not done out of charity, the religious denominations play a very important role. This initiative is isolated and the German model is not viable for Romania,” Father Stoica stated for ‘Gandul.’
At the same time, although Cernea claims that his initiative on adopting the German model when it comes to financing religious denominations would enjoy the backing of several parliamentary groups, most of the MPs deny that. Even though they now oppose each other, PDL and USL are on the same side when it comes to religion. Lower Chamber Deputy Speaker Ioan Oltean stakes on the model of financing the Church from the state budget because, according to him, “where there’s faith things will be well.” The financing of religious denominations differs from state to state, depending on each country’s history and dominant religion. State aid is common in most European states, to a smaller or larger extent. For example, in Belgium, Luxembourg and Greece the state partially covers the costs of building and renovating religious establishments, the priests’ salaries and the salaries of non-clerical employees. On the other hand, in France the separation between Church and state is stipulated in the Constitution, France being a secular state that does not finance religious denominations.
Currently 75 per cent of the Church’s income comes from donations and 25 per cent from voluntary contributions. Likewise, clerical salaries are not paid from the state budget.